Creativity Tuesday: Love Unites

Love is in the air, can you feel it? Welcome back to Creativity Tuesday, a new recurring post that I hope inspires your creative side through beautiful photography and art. Each Creativity Tuesday post will feature a different photographer or artist, and will … Continue reading

Creativity Tuesday: The Livegram Project

Welcome to English Outside the Box’s newest theme post, Creativity Tuesday! Creativity Tuesday is going to be a recurring theme that will give you opportunities to practice and improve your writing skills, as well as review some reading. The name … Continue reading

Common Pronunciation Issues…Eliminated!

Happy Thursday to you!  We are nearly finished with Week 2 of our August Learning Plan, and our focus all week has been on improving our speaking skills! If this is your first time on English Outside the Box’s learning … Continue reading

August Learning Plan: Improve your English skills in 4 weeks

Hey…Hey! Happy August! ♥ But, ummm…. where did July go?! This summer has just flown by, and I can’t believe we’re entering the second half of the year. Before we know it, it’ll be my birthday (woooo! 😉 ), the holiday … Continue reading

Word Reductions in English: American Pronunciation + 5 minute English video

John can watch them today with her, and Paulo can go with him tomorrow.

Before we begin, take a second and read that above sentence aloud. If you really want to test yourself and monitor your progress, then I recommend recording yourself reading it. Did you notice anything special or unique about the underlined words?  Once you’ve record yourself, you can move on….

In school we’re taught to e-nun-ci-ate our words when we talk, to speak clearly and not mumble our sounds. However, have you ever heard a native English speaker actually pronounce every…single..word when speaking? Of course not! English speakers (and most languages) are lazy, we do all kinds of things to make speaking easier. We reduce, link, and modify sounds, we contract words, and we often say words differently than they may look. As the title suggests, I want to emphasize that I am writing about American English here, but I know those on the other side of the world have their own word modifications and reductions, we’re just not reviewing them here.

As I mentioned, there are many words with sound reductions, links, and modifications; however, to simplify things, we are only going to review 5 of these words today. To have some fun before we get into the lesson, how many of you reading can relate to this meme?

mumble

I would bet money that you have experienced this AT LEAST once if you are an English learner, and even an English speaker too! Not giving up, not saying “never mind,” and not just agreeing because you didn’t understand someone is something I pretty consistently tell my students. But, there’s a meme so it has got to be true!

I wanted to use this meme to not only put a little smile on your face before you learn, but also to point out one of our sound reductions. Did you already notice the “n” in the middle of bottom text? Do you know what this “n” is supposed to mean?

Any guesses?

 

Well, if you said “and,” then you are absolutely correct, nicely done!

In addition to AND, we will also review the reduction of sounds in the pronouns THEM, HIM, and HER, as well as the modal, CAN.

So why do these words “change” in speech?
These words are a few of many that have weak and strong forms. So they change in speech, depending on how they are being used. The strong forms, when they are said with stress, happen only when they’re used individually or when the word is being emphasized.

The weak form, however, is used when the word is unstressed in a sentence. Because these words are “function” words (giving grammatical meaning, not lexical) they are not emphasized or stressed, and are linked or modified in connected speech. We’ll review these weak sounds since we’re focusing on conversational English.

AND is going to to sound like the consonant “n”. Notice that even in the meme above, the creator wrote the letter in place of the actual word. Remember, writing in this way is not correct, and definitely shouldn’t be practiced.

THEM and HIM are going to sound the same, so contextual clues will let you know which one is being used. In both words, you need to drop the beginning sounds “th” for them and “h” for him and just say the ending “-em”. However, in connected speech, you will make more of an “um” sound, closer to a short “u” (of umbrella) rather than a short “e” (of elephant).

HER is going to follow the same pattern as the pronouns above, you’ll drop the beginning “h” sound and only pronounce the “er”. Remember that in American English, it’s a very hard “r” sound…like a pirate!

CAN is going to have a change in the vowel sound; instead of pronouncing it with a short “a” sound, like apple, you should be pronouncing it with a short “i” sound, like igloo. So the word in connected speech will sound almost identical to the word “kin”.

Let’s take another look at the sentence you read at the top of the post:

John can watch them today with her, and Paulo can go with him tomorrow.

If you listen back to your recorded voice, do you think you were saying them correctly, according to the information you just read in this post? Consider reading the sentence, as if it were written like this:

John kin watch-um today with-er, n Paulo kin go with-um tomorrow.

Try and re-read the sentence, focusing on the sound changes, and again record yourself to check the progress. Let me know how you did below!

For more examples, watch English Outside the Box‘s newest 5-minute English video about pronunciation and word reductions on my YouTube channel. Make sure you subscribe to continue getting new content and free English lessons!

You can also watch it here! ♥

The end of the video gives you ways to connect with me via the blog or social media, which is a great way to receive some feedback and take your learning to the next level. Don’t be shy, I’d love to hear from you and hear you creating some of your own examples, so I’ll talk to you soon!

Happy Studying! ♥

Want to show your love and support for me and English Outside the Box? Please share this post and video! Thank you!

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Reading Comprehension with Bree-Elizabeth | Part 1

Just as the title suggested, today’s post is brought to you by guest-blogger, Bree-Elizabeth. To keep things interesting, we’re changing up (doing things differently) the posts that Bree-Elizabeth does, with this week being a 2-part short story to practice reading comprehension … Continue reading

Flashback|Phrasal Verb Friday: Coachella

Ah, Coachella. Frolicking (playing and moving about happily) in the California desert with my best friends, listening to endless music for 3 days, I only wish I could partake (to join with others in doing something) in this festival every year. It’s been … Continue reading

Phrasal Verb Friday

Happy Friday! Phrasal verbs are an important part of everyday English, and help you understand more natives, and sound like one too! Check out Phrasal Verb Friday to learn about animals p.vs with definitions, examples, and discussion questions. Continue reading

How to Effectively Express Your Opinion in an Argument

Today I am excited to share another guest post, which fits perfectly into this month’s theme of March Modal Madness. Guest posts provide an excellent opportunity for you to see even more ‘Outside the Box’  learning opportunities; you’ll see different styles of … Continue reading

Poetry with Bree-Elizabeth

I am extremely delighted for today’s post, as it’s not only a breath of fresh air (something new and refreshing), but an introduction and the first of what I hope is many upcoming posts from a very talented writer. Bree-Elizabeth has jumped on board of English Outside the Box’s blogging journey, and I hope you are excited to be exposed to new literary works (pieces of writing). From poems to short stories, and other masterpieces in between, her writings will definitely provide learning opportunities.

Her first post is a poem! Pay attention to how she writes this rhyming couplet. Do you notice the rhyming scheme? You can also use the poem to practice reading comprehension with some questions following her work, and don’t be shy to practice writing by commenting and sharing your thoughts. Who knows, maybe Bree-Elizabeth will even answer questions you may have! This is also a great way to practice new vocabulary. I’ve selected and defined some words, but I encourage you to look up the definitions of any new words. Don’t forget to take it one step further and break out that thesaurus, too!

Well enough is enough, here is Bree-Elizabeth:


 Hello, English Learners, my name is Bree-Elizabeth.  I was very excited when Jennifer asked me to contribute to English Outside the Box!  This website is a ‘pot of gold’ for anyone trying to learn English.  I’m lucky enough to know Jennifer very well – she is my sister after all!  And if there is one thing I know, she is a very passionate and devoted person.  See what she does for you all only stokes my passion for learning new languages.

That being said, here is my first contribution to Jennifer’s cause.  I can’t wait to write more!

The Girl 

“The lonely girl left home to travel the world around her
And to see what different countries had to offer.
She arrived in the busy city on a beautiful winter night
But she realized the cold was not her only plight.

The girl could not understand the words these new friends said
Their language was so new to her she could not even buy bread.
She did all she could to learn any word,
No one stopped to help until a kind boy overheard.

Though they spoke different languages, they became good friends
The boy helped her find her way through the city’s twists and bends.
He was patient and kind when something happened the girl did not understand
And did not hesitate to give her a “helping hand”

While the girl studied hard to speak and have fun,
The boy fell in love and knew she was the one.
Soon they were getting married to be husband and wife,
Because a kind boy gave a sad girl a smile and a new life.”


 

Vocabulary:

plight [noun]: difficult situation
kind [adjective]: gentle in nature, wanting to help others and do good
overheard [verb]: to hear what someone said usually by accident
twists & bends [plural noun]: referring to the streets and area of this city; an area that is easy to get lost
hesitate [verb]: pause/stop in doing something because one is nervous or unwilling
“helping hand” [noun] assistance, giving help
“the one” [noun]: refers to the person who will become your husband or wife

Comprehension Questions: (answer in the comment section, and we’ll let you know if you are correct!)

1. In your own words, why did the girl leave home to travel?
2. Why was the new situation difficult for the girl?
3. What are some of the ways the boy helped the girl?
4. What happened in the end?

Did you accurately answer the question in the introduction: What was the rhyming scheme?
AABB

Do you have questions for Bree-Elizabeth, about her poem, the idea, or her writing? Post in the comment section!

Can you relate with the girl in this poem? Have you ever set out for an adventure and faced difficulty, found love and/or happiness? Share your story..

As always.. Happy Studying! ♥And please, share this post and blog with friends, families, learners, and lovers to help support English Outside the Box and keep up the fabulousness!