Tag Archives: speaking

Tongue Twisters in English

Tongue Twisters in English

Tongue Twisters in English

Can you read these terrific tongue twisters out loud without getting tongue-tied?

She saw shy sheep

She sells seashells on the seashore

Bugs black blood

Rubber baby buggy bumpers

Betty Botter bought some butter
‘Oh!’ she said, ‘this butter’s bitter
If I use this bitter butter
It will make my batter bitter
I need a bit of better butter
Just to make my batter better’
Betty bought a bit of better butter
Now Betty’s batter isn’t bitter

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck
wood?

Tongue Twisters in English

Are you copper-bottoming ‘em pans?
No, I’m aluminiuming ‘em, mum

River Wytham, River Wytham

Unique New York, Unique New York

Red lorry yellow lorry, Red lorry yellow lorry

Moses supposes his toeses are roses
But Moses supposes erroneously
For Moses he knowses his toeses aren’t roses
Like Moses supposes his toeses to be

Minnie Mouse makes many marshmallows for Mickey Mouse to munch on

This snail is stale
Its tail is stale
And this is a stale tale

The Leith police dismisseth us, which causeth us dismay

A fly and a flea in a flue
Were caught, so what did they do?
Said the fly, ‘Let us flee!’
Said the flea, ‘Let us fly!’
So they flew through a flaw in the flue

Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran

Roger Rocket ran around the river and rented a raft to ride on

Phineas Foster fishes for fat flounder

Veronica Victor vowed to view the vanguard vicariously

When the very wet Venetian vet went to Venice
His voyage was viewed with vindictive regret
By a Venetian vendor named Verity

Canals in the Alps are comparable to a lot of canyon-like canals in the capital
of Canada

The enthusiasm that Theresa Thomas told of
Took the terribly thin thirty-ish Turkish thespian Theseus Thurber
Completely by surprise


What is your favourite tongue twister in English? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.


Title image: Eric Han

Other image: Hayes Potter

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

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?
Reading the Bible – Discussion Questions

Reading the Bible – Discussion Questions

Reading the Bible – Discussion Questions

Get more FREE Bible study worksheets [Click Here]

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

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Discuss the following questions with a partner or small group:

  1. What is your favourite: a) book of the Bible (Old and New Testaments), b) verse in the Bible, c) story in the Bible, d) psalm, e) proverb, f) parable of Jesus, g) letter in the New Testament? Say why.
  2. Which person in the Bible do you relate to the most? Why? Compare two characters from the Bible – one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. What features make the Old and New Testaments different? What do they have in common? Which do you prefer to read? Why?
  3. When do you read the Bible? What is the best time of day? How long do you spend reading the Bible? Where do you usually read the Bible? Do you have a favourite place to go? Do you like to read the Bible with others or alone? Why? Have you ever attended a Bible study group?
  4. Which version of the Bible do you prefer? Why do you like it more than other versions? Have you ever tried to understand the Bible in its original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek? How did you get on?
  5. Describe your Bible. What does it look like? How old is it? How long have you had it? Where did you get it from? Are you thinking about replacing it? Have you ever used a Bible app or an eBible online?
  6. Do you use any tools to help you understand the Bible, e.g. concordances, reading notes and plans, websites, etc.? How do they help you? Do you enjoy hearing the Bible read aloud? Do you listen to readings from the Bible online or on Bible apps?
  7. How important is the Bible to you personally? Why do you read it? Have you ever been encouraged or helped by reading the Bible? Tell me about it. How do you apply the message of the Bible in your life? Do you think you could function as a Christian without reading the Bible? Are you ever reluctant to read the Bible? Why? How do you start reading again?
  8. What would you do if you couldn’t read the Bible anymore? What about if the Bible was outlawed in your country? Do you ever take your access to the Bible for granted? Have you ever been bullied for reading the Bible or being a Christian? How did you respond? Have you ever distributed Bibles?
  9. Did anyone teach you to read the Bible? How did you first hear about the Bible? Have you read the whole Bible? If not, what is stopping you? Would you consider trying to read the whole Bible in a year with a special plan or app? What do you think would be the difficulties? What would be the rewards?
  10. How do you know that you can trust the Bible? Do you believe that everything in the Bible can be taken completely literally? If not, which parts cannot? How do you know?
  11. Do you like to memorise verses of Scripture? How many do you know? Can you tell me some of them now? Why do you do it? How do you memorise verses?
  12. Is the Bible relevant to non-Christians? How? How often do you talk to your non-Christian friends or colleagues about the Bible? What is their response?

Image: https://pixabay.com


Get more FREE Bible study worksheets [Click Here]


 

Robot Vacuum Cleaners - 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Robot Vacuum Cleaners – 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Robot Vacuum Cleaners – 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Robot vacuum cleaners are those little round space-age gadgets that trundle around the floor in your flat or house and promise to clean the carpet. Have you ever seen one in action? Have you considered buying one? Maybe you already own one.

Whatever you think of them, robot vacuum cleaners are probably going to be everywhere soon, so why not create an ESOL class based around this topic, using the activities and discussion questions below?

Discuss the following questions with a partner or small group:

  1. Do you do the vacuum cleaning in your home? Do you like doing it? When do you do it? How long does it take? Do you find it a chore? What would you do with the time if you didn’t have to do it? If not, who does it? How well do they do it?
  2. Tell me about your vacuum cleaner. What kind is it? What make is it? When did you buy it? Where did you buy it? How much was it? Why did you choose it? How efficient is it at cleaning different kinds of floor? Are you planning on replacing it soon? Why? / Why not?
  3. Do you have a robot vacuum cleaner? If yes, tell me about it. Why did you buy it? If not, why not? Are you planning to buy one? Do you think they look cool? Do you think your friends, family, and colleagues would be impressed if you had one?
  4. Compare a robot vacuum cleaner to your current vacuum cleaner. Do you think it would work better than your current regular vacuum cleaner? Why? / Why not?
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of robot vacuum cleaners? Do you think that the benefits outweigh the potential problems/costs? Is it worth spending up to £1,000 to buy a top-of-the-range robot vacuum cleaner? Why? / Why not? Is it worth cutting costs and buying a cheaper model, e.g. for £150? Why? / Why not? Are you happy for it to stand there in your living room or corridor all the time, instead of in a cupboard? How good is it if it can be stopped by a stray sock? Could it be a tripping hazard, especially if it is a quiet model and you don’t see it coming? Can it be better than a human doing the job, when it can’t pick up and move anything, or reach high places?
  6. If you bought a robot vacuum cleaner would you keep your old cleaner? Do you think you need both kinds of cleaner to do a good job? How could a robot vacuum cleaner clean hard-to-reach areas, e.g. corners of ceilings?
  7. Would you feel embarrassed to let a robot do the housework, when you feel that you should do it? Would you feel embarrassed about a robot doing a better job than you? Or would you feel thrilled to chill out on the sofa while a machine is doing your duties? Wouldn’t it be healthier to be active and move around doing your own cleaning, than resting? Do you have a dishwasher? Did you have misgivings before buying one, thinking that you could do better? How do you feel now? How is a robot vacuum cleaner any different?
  8. How do you define a robot? Do you have any other robots in your home? How do you think robot vacuum cleaners could be improved? How will they develop and improve in the next: a) five years? b) ten years? Do you think that every home will have a robot vacuum cleaner in time? Is this inevitable progress? Do you think that people complained about vacuum cleaners replacing sweeping brushes?
  9. Can you think of any other ways in which robots improve your life at present? What jobs would you like a robot to do for you, in an ideal world?
  10. Do you believe a robot could do your job? Could you be replaced by a robot? Why? / Why not? What about robot cars? Will they become popular? Why? / Why not?
  11. What is your favourite household appliance? If you had to keep only one, which would it be? Why? How long have you had it? What value does it bring to your life?
  12. Do you think that robot vacuum cleaners are helpful for disabled people? How could they help?
  13. Could we use robot vacuum cleaners to save money on cleaning staff costs at places like office blocks and hotels, which have large areas for cleaning? Why? / Why not?
  14. Is this kind of cleaner good for the environment? Why? / Why not?
  15. If somebody gave you a robot vacuum cleaner as a gift, how would you feel? Would you try to sell it?
Robot Vacuum Cleaners - 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Robot Vacuum Cleaners – 15 Discussion Questions for ESOL Classes

Other fun communicative activities you might like to try:

  • Find video reviews online and discuss / compare two different robot vacuum cleaner models. You could use the table below to make notes about each one:
Compare Robot Vacuum Cleaners - Table

Compare Robot Vacuum Cleaners – Table

Then write 10 sentences comparing the two models.

  • Make a list of advantages and disadvantages of buying a robot vacuum cleaner. Discuss them, and try to appreciate the opposite point of view for each point.
  • Write 5 wh- questions and 5 yes/no questions that you would ask a shop assistant about one of these gadgets. Find a real model online and write down the answers to your questions.
  • Role play a conversation between a customer and a shop assistant re. buying one. It could include an in-store demo.
  • Role play a conversation between a customer and a shop assistant re. getting a refund due to… a) broken model, b) unwanted gift, c) too difficult to use, d) inefficient.
  • Choose one model and imagine that you bought it. Write a review about it in your notebook. Give it between one and five stars. Match your review to the star rating accordingly. Read it aloud to the class.

Images: https://pexels.com (top), https://pixabay.com

Practice the Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Speaking Test

Practice the Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) Speaking Test

In this helpful and informative video from Cambridge English, you will watch two English language students taking an FCE Speaking test. They are Victoria, from Germany and Edward, from Peru.

How well do you think they did? How would you cope in their place?

You can read their examiner’s comments about the test here.

Talking about... Christmas in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Talking about… Christmas in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Talking about… Christmas in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Get your students speaking together and enable them to learn 40 new helpful vocabulary words about Christmas with this great FREE printable worksheet.

You could use this worksheet with any of the activities on this page.

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/discussion-words-christmas-.pdf

Talking about… Christmas in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Image: https://pixabay.com

Talking about... Winter in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Talking about… Winter in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Talking about… Winter in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Get your students speaking together and enable them to learn 40 new helpful vocabulary words about winter with this great FREE printable worksheet.

Tip: you could use this worksheet with any of the activities on this page.

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/discussion-words-winter.pdf

Talking about… Winter in an ESOL Vocabulary Class

Image: https://pixabay.com