Category Archives: intermediate

FREE Resource Pack for English - Holidays

FREE Resource Pack for English – Holidays

FREE Resource Pack for English – Holidays

Do you deserve a holiday? Are you dreaming about a relaxing break or hitting the beach? What about sightseeing in an exotic place? This pack could be the next best thing! Improve your English lessons immensely with our helpful FREE printable resource pack on the topic of Holidays.

Featuring great material to practice:

Vocabulary, English Idioms, Grammar, Tense Conversion, Verb Forms, Word and Sentence Stress, Speaking and Listening, Connected Speech… and much more!

This resource pack is completely free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/holidays-complete-pack.pdf

FREE Resource Pack for English – Holidays

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FREE Worksheet: 100 Words You Didn’t Know Were Adverbs

FREE Worksheet: 100 Words You Didn’t Know Were Adverbs

FREE Worksheet: 100 Words You Didn’t Know Were Adverbs

Improve your grammar skills in English with our helpful FREE printable worksheet (PDF) on the topic of adverbs.

Find out more about adverbs here!

This worksheet is free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/100-words-you-didnt-know-were-adverbs-1.pdf

FREE Worksheet: 100 Words You Didn’t Know Were Adverbs

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FREE Resource Pack for English - Creepy Crawlies

FREE Resource Pack for English – Creepy Crawlies

FREE Resource Pack for English – Creepy Crawlies

How much do you know about creepy crawlies? Are you scared of spiders? Fascinated by flies? Worried about worms? Boastful about bees? Improve your English lessons inordinately with our helpful FREE printable resource pack on the topic of Creepy Crawlies.

Featuring great material to practice:

Vocabulary, English Idioms, Tense Conversion, Verb Forms, Word and Sentence Stress, Speaking and Listening, Connected Speech… and much more!

This resource pack is completely free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/creepy-crawlies-complete-pack.pdf

FREE Resource Pack for English – Creepy Crawlies

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Adventures in Connected Speech – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Adventures in Connected Speech – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Adventures in Connected Speech – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

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Before reading why not find out more about connected speech here.

Woduvaigada

If I came up to you and said ‘Woduvaigada?’, would you know what I meant?
What about if I added a main verb – an infinitive – afterwards: ‘Woduvaigada do?’
I’m guessing if you are a native speaker – if you have grown up listening to English your whole life – you will understand this phrase with a main verb:

‘Woduvaigada do?’

‘Woduvaigada say?’

However, if you are a learner of English – if you haven’t grown up with English as your main language – this lesson could help you. We’re talking about connected speech. The way that English speakers combine words in a sentence.

‘Woduvaigada do?’ = ‘What have I got to do?’ which becomes ‘What’ve I got to do?’

But how do we get a coherent sentence in English from a seemingly gibberish word? And why is it that a native speaker understands it – instinctively – while a non-native speaker may not?

The phrase ‘Woduvaigada do?’ comes from the first line of the original recording of the famous song by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (1976), above. (Super Tip: hear the syllables in more detail by playing the video at half speed or lower; just click the gear and select: Speed > 0.5.)

Let’s break it down into syllables:

In the top line we see the actual words of the lyrics and in the bottom line the sounds made. I have written the sounds phonetically using Clear Alphabet[Click here for more about Clear Alphabet.]

When analysing a sentence we must:

i. separate the words into content words (important words) and function words (grammatical words): here ‘What’ and ‘do’ are content words

ii. make any possible contractions: ‘What’ and ‘have’ make the contraction ‘What’ve’

iii. identify the stressed syllable in each content word: each content word has only one syllable, so it is stressed

iv. identify the stressed vowel sound in the stressed syllables: ‘What’ has the short o sound, while ‘do’ has the long oo sound

v. reduce the function words to make them weaker and less obvious: this is where we end up with the unusual ‘word’ ‘woduvaigada’

(We should note that it is also possible to read the sentence as ‘What do I got to do’, which is not standard English grammar but rather a mix of: ‘What do I have to do?’ and ‘What have I got to do?’ We sometimes hear ‘What do I got to do’ as a slang form, particularly in American English.)

The sentence has four weak syllables, marked in grey below:

The aim for the speaker (or singer) is to go from ‘What’ to ‘do’ as quickly as possible. The last thing we should do is put an accent (stress) on every syllable: ‘What. Do. I. Got. To. Do?’ This sounds awful and makes the sentence very difficult for a native speaker to understand, since we are relying on the stressed vowel sounds to give us most of the meaning of the sentence:

What – do?

If I said simply ‘What – do?’ while pointing at myself (‘I’) the listener could probably understand what I meant. The message is ‘What do?’ or ‘What I do?’ From this we may understand ‘What must I do?’ The problem is that ‘What do?’ has to be expressed correctly in English grammar, either via present simple – ‘What do I have to do?’ – or via present perfect: ‘What have I got to do?’ Native speakers are so familiar with the forms of these tenses that we can skate over them very quickly, barely referencing them:

Learners of English have to study connected speech to be able to understand it and then use it as spoken English. The process is fairly simple and is laid out in detail here. I always tell students that it’s not rocket science. Now that would be hard! Remember that the goal in connected speech is to achieve vc or friendly sound connections between all syllables. In short, the sentence breaks down as follows:

Connection 1:

In this cv connection the consonant sound  t  moves forward to join the schwa sound at the beginning of the contraction ‘ve’. t  changes to d  (assimilation), because of the mid-Atlantic accent adopted by the singer

Connection 2:

In this cv connection the consonant sound  v  moves forward to join  ai  and form:  vai

Connection 3:

A vc connection is what we want, so we leave it

Connection 4:

Two of the same sounds meet:  t  and  t. The first sound –  t  – disappears (elision), and the second  t  changes to its matching sound  d. This is due to the mid-Atlantic accent adopted by the singer

Connection 5:   A vc connection is what we want, so we leave it

We further reduce weak syllables by substituting a schwa sound – the weak vowel sound in English – for any strong sounds. We do this here with the  a  of ‘have’ (changed to ‘ve’) and the  oo  of ‘to’. The  o  of ‘got’ becomes an  a, again because of the mid-Atlantic accent adopted by the singer.

So we end up with:

 

A. Wo – we clearly understand this as the question word ‘what’ – despite the missing ‘t’, because of the  w  sound, the strong vowel sound  o, and the fact it has one syllable. No other one-syllable question word has the strong vowel sound  o. The others all have different vowel sounds: ‘where’ has  eir, ‘when’ has  e, ‘why’ has  ai, and so on.

B. The second syllable contains the moved-forward t  from ‘What’ changed to  d, plus an             embedded schwa sound from the beginning of ‘ve’

C. ‘I’ remains a full ai  sound, with the  v  sound which moved forward in front

D. ‘got’ loses its ending sound, but it doesn’t matter because a similar sound d  follows (t  and  d  are matching sounds – the former unvoiced and the latter voiced). o  has changed to  a, as noted, above.

E. The vowel sound in ‘to’ is reduced to a schwa sound; t  changes to  d  due to a personal choice about accent (mid Atlantic) made by the singer

F. The second content word ‘do’ has a long full vowel sound and is accordingly stressed by the singer

What makes this sentence unusual is not ‘What’ + four weak syllables together but the way the artist sings them so fast to make them all fit into one beat of the song:

‘What’ve I got to’ has to fit into the same length beat as ‘do’, which ends up producing the unusual word ‘woduvaigada’, which is understood by native speakers, but may come across as babble – or just ‘too hard’ for non-native speakers. Further emphasis is added by each of the six syllables having the same note.

What are the takeaways from this lesson:

  1. Connected speech is a thing in English: we get most of the meaning of a sentence from the stressed vowel sounds: Wo – do. Learners of English have to actively learn about connected speech if they want to sound more natural and be less difficult to listen to. [You can learn about connected speech here.]
  2. Schwa sounds are real – and really common. If you don’t use them then you will be stressing far too many syllables in the sentence, making function words too prominent and losing much of the meaning (see 1. above).
  3. The point about this sentence is that the only two words that are important are: ‘What’ and ‘do’. You could put a variety of different function words in between them and the meaning wouldn’t change too much. The listener understands ‘What’ and ‘do’ and the rest could just as well be: ‘blah, blah, blah, blah’:

and so on. The main purpose of the middle bit is to make clear the subject – the ‘who’ of the question – ‘I’. The singer retains the full form of I – ai – rather than changing it to a schwa sound – perhaps as a way of stressing who the subject is amidst the muddle of syllables.

4. As well as the phrase ‘What have I got to…’ there are other similar structures to learn, which have multiple reduced function words. We use these unusual ‘words’ every day, so if you don’t know them, you could be missing out. If you can learn them it will be easier to listen to and understand people speaking English, for example:

and so on.

5. It’s also important to know common slang phrases (contractions) in English which represent function word phrases, because you will hear them a lot in spoken English. For example:

Not forgetting this truly epic sentence featuring no fewer than eight syllables with function words:


How other artists have treated the line:

Blue featuring Elton John (2002): ‘What I gotta do…?’:

Joe Cocker live (1992): ‘What’ve I got to…?’  then  ‘What do I got to…?’:

Nataly Dawn (2011): ‘What do I gotta do…?’:

Elton John live at the Royal Albert Hall (2002): ‘What’ve I got to do’, but very fast, almost staccato:


Image used by permission: By yabosidFlickr: Elton John, Live at Liseberg 8/7 1971, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Idiom of the Day: Full of the joys of spring

Idiom of the Day: Full of the joys of spring

Idiom of the Day: To be full of the joys of spring

Literal meaning:

To be unexpectedly happy.

Example:

‘You’re full of the joys of spring. What happened?’

When to use it:

Two work colleagues meet; one of them is unusually cheerful.

  • Hi Jack. You’re full of the joys of spring.
  • Oh – my granddaughter was born last night.
  • Oh, great! Wow – congratulations!

Other use:

It could also be used sarcastically, e.g. you get home from work to find your partner moaning about your credit card bill:

  • I thought you told me you were going to get rid of this card!
  • You’re full of the joys of spring!
  • I’m serious. We can’t go on like this any more, Brian.

Image: https://pixabay.com

Discussion Questions about Books - for World Book Day 2019

Discussion Questions about Books – for World Book Day 2019

Discussion Questions about Books – for World Book Day 2019

Talk about books and reading with a partner or small group!

Find out more at the World Book Day website!

This worksheet is free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/books-discussion-questions.pdf

Discussion Questions about Books – for World Book Day 2019

Image: https://www.worldbookday.com/

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

Improve your grammar skills in English with our helpful FREE printable worksheet on the topic of relative clauses – taking the Twelve Disciples as our subject.

This worksheet is free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/30-Q-the-twelve-disciples-relative-clauses-1.pdf

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

Answers:

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/64-A-the-twelve-disciples-relative-clauses-1.pdf

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1 – Answers

Image: the Sea of Galilee  https://pixabay.com/photos/mt-arbel-sea-of-galilee-holy-land-3273356/

30 ESOL Discussion Questions about Laughter

30 ESOL Discussion Questions about Laughter

30 ESOL Discussion Questions about Laughter

Discuss the following questions with a partner or small group:

  1. What is laughter? Can you spell it? Can you pronounce it? How do you write laughter in your language, e.g. ‘ha ha!’ in English, but ‘Jajajajaja!’ in Spanish?
  2. When did you last laugh? Who or what made you laugh? How often do you laugh? What would I need to do to make you laugh right now?
  3. Do you like laughing? What is the difference between laughing and smiling?
  4. How do we laugh? What happens to our bodies, especially: a) mouth, b) eyes, c) chest, d) diaphragm, e) heart, f) breath? What does laughter: a) sound like, b) look like, c) feel like?
  5. Where do you usually laugh? Why? What effect does the environment have on the potential for laughter?
  6. What effect would laughter have on the atmosphere: a) at a party, b) at a business meeting, c) in church, d) at a comedy club, e) at a funeral, f) in an exam, g) at a family dinner, h) at the doctor’s?
  7. Are you self-conscious about laughing in front of: a) friends, b) family, c) strangers? Why?
  8. Is it easier to laugh in a big group e.g. at a comedy club or at the theatre? Would you laugh as much if you were the only person in the audience? If no, why not?
  9. Is laughter ever wrong? When is laughter inappropriate? Can it be illegal to laugh?
  10. How would you feel if you couldn’t stop laughing and laughed all the time? What would life be like? Is it possible to die laughing?
  11. What is the point of laughter? Is there any evolutionary advantage? Does laughter send out useful signals, e.g. that the one laughing is not a threat? Do animals laugh? Do animals find things funny? If not, why not?
  12. Can robots laugh? Do you think machines will be able to enjoy our sense of humour in the future?
  13. Have you ever laughed till you cried? Have you ever laughed until you couldn’t breathe and thought you might black out, i.e. uncontrollable laughter? What were you laughing at? Do you like that sensation? Why? / Why not?
  14. Can laughter be subversive? Can it be used as a weapon? In what situation(s)? Does satire make you laugh?
  15. Do you prefer to laugh on your own or with friends? Do you laugh at the same things as your friends and family? Do you believe that laughter is infectious? Why? / Why not? Does the Laughing Policeman song (above) make you laugh?
  16. Is there anything that you wouldn’t laugh at? What? Is it possible to laugh when you don’t really find something funny?
  17. Do you know anybody who doesn’t laugh very often – or who never laughs? Why is that?
  18. Are you good at making people laugh? What are the best ways to make other people laugh? How do you feel when a group of people are laughing: a) because of you, b) at you? What is the difference?
  19. What are the benefits of laughter? Is laughter ‘the best medicine’, for example?
  20. How would you describe your laugh? Are you a loud, moderate, or quiet laugher? How did you learn to laugh?
  21. Describe the difference(s) between these different kinds of laughter: a) chuckle, b) giggle, c) cackle, d) guffaw, e) snigger, f) sneer, g) chortle, h) hoot, i) titter, j) snicker, k) roar, l) snort, m) howl, n) fall about laughing? Do you laugh in all these different ways? In what situations would you laugh like that? Can you give an example of each kind of laughter now?
  22. Do you know the meaning of the following idioms about laughter? a) to have a laugh, b) to have the last laugh, c) to get the giggles, d) laughter is the best medicine, e) to be laugh-a-minute, f) he who laughs last laughs longest, g) to laugh your head off, h) to burst out laughing?
  23. Do adults laugh at different things to children? Do women laugh at different things to men? If so, why?
  24. Do you agree that ‘the couple who laugh together, stay together? Is it important for married couples to have the same sense of humour? Why? / Why not?
  25. Do optimistic people laugh more than pessimistic people? If yes, why?
  26. Is it possible to change your mood from angry to happy by forcing yourself to laugh, thus releasing the feel-good chemicals endorphins in the brain?
  27. Do you make funny noises when you laugh? Do you ever say something immediately after laughing, like ‘Oh no!’ or ‘Oh dear?’ If yes, why?
  28. How would you feel if you were walking down the street and heard the following people laugh? a) a baby, b) a group of women, c) a group of teenage boys, d) a lone man, e) a lone woman, f) a lone child? Why? What would be the difference?
  29. Do the things you laugh at change as you get older, or remain broadly the same? Why?
  30. Do you agree with this quotation from the famous poem ‘Solitude’ by Ella Wheeler: ‘Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone’? What does it mean?