Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tricks of American T sound - Flap T

I have a series on American English vowel sounds, but I think it’s important to speak about consonants as well. I would like to begin with the 'T' sound. If you have learned British English the American T sound can be very tricky for you as it can change in several ways. First of all I would like to speak about Flap T.  In American movies you can often hear the 'D' sound rather than the 'T' sound (like in water, or city). It is one of the characteristics of American English and it’s accepted even in formal speeches, however some teachers (even from the States) consider Flap T as lazy speech, but they’re not right at all. You can hear Flap T everywhere.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Today's idiom - Bend over backwards

Hi everyone,
After learning the idioms spill the beans, and pay through the nose  we’re going to speak about the idiom ”bend over backwards”. As I mentioned before, learning the idioms is a great adventure. I can’t show you all the idioms, I can show you some of them, in addition I can recommend some sources that can help you learn them.
What does ”Bend over backwards” mean?
to work very hard to accomplish something for someone; to go out of one's way (to do something) (for someone); to try very hard to do something, especially to help or please someone else; to try very hard;
Let’s see some practical examples:
He will bend over backwards to help you. I bent over backwards for you, and you showed no thanks!
Banks are bending over backwards to help those in difficulties.
We want your business and will bend over backwards to keep it.
I've been bending over backwards trying to help you, and this is all the thanks I get!
He’ll bend over backwards to help any of his friends.
She was giving a very important dinner party and was going to bend over backwards to make the evening success.
I bend over backwards to be pleasant to people.
One of my favorite books about American idioms (101 American English Idioms by Harry Collis) also explains this idiom.

How does this book explain this idiom?

As usual we can learn from Rachel how she explains the meaning and the pronunciation of this idiom.

You can also read the transcript as well.
”Today I'm going to go over the pronunciation for the idiom to bend over backwards. This means to do as much as you possibly can to get your desired results. Perhaps more than what would be expected. For example, let's say I'm trying to hire a new person to come to my firm and I'll do whatever it takes to get him or her to commit. I might say, I'll bend over backwards to get you here. Or, for example, let's say my mother in law was visiting last weekend. I might say, I bent over backwards to make her happy.It begins with the B consonant sound. That is voiced, bb, so your vocal cords are making noise. Then the 'eh' as in 'bed' vowel sound [ε]: be- be-. Nn, tongue moves up into position for the N. Ben-d. Here you would either have the D or the T consonant sound, depending on if you're speaking present/future, or past. Bend/bent. Over begins with the 'oh' as in 'no' diphthong [oʊ]. O - vv, vv, then the V consonant sound, where the bottom lip raises to lightly touch the bottom of the top front teeth. Ov, vv, and you make a sound with the vocal cords. Over. You then have the schwa soun [ə], unaccented, with the R consonant sound [ɹ], over. Backwards begins, again, with the B sound, bb, then the 'aa' as in 'bat' vowel [æ]. Ba-, ba- kk. The K consonant sound, where the tongue goes up and touches in the back, kk, releasing to make that sound. Back, back, -wards. The W consonant sound, where the lips form a tight circle, www, and the schwa sound with the R consonant sound war-, war- ds. The D consonant sound followed by the Z consonant sound, both voiced: dz, dz. Backwards. To bend over backwards.”
I used the following websites and books to write this blog post:  
The Free dictionary by Farlex (Idioms) 
Idiomatric American English by Barbara K. Gaines
The 800 most commonly used idioms in America by Paul S. Gruber   
And now I have a question for you guys: do you know other idioms with a similar meaning? If you do, please write it / them as a comment here or on my Facebook page or in this Facebook group . 
Kate was very kind to review this blog post. She’s still searching for new students on her Italki profile.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Suit vs soot – Other OO and Other U sounds

Hi everyone,

Some weeks ago we began to work on American English sounds in pairs. We learned the difference between ‘sheep and ship’ (Long E – EE – and Short I – IH – Sounds) , and between ‘cattle and kettle’ (Short A – AA – and Short E –EH –sounds) . We also learned that in American English, long vowels are NOT consequently longer than short vowels. Long and short vowels are simply the names that have been used for naming them for ages. 

In this article, we will compare the other OO and other U sounds. I have to add that if you only read my article, it’s probably not enough. If you want to learn this topic entirely, you should visit the materials that I recommend you. Let’s get started.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Interview with Jaime Miller - TOEFL teacher

Hi everyone,

In my former blog posts, I was writing about Jaime Miller. First, when I summarized my TOEFL experience. Second, when I introduced her excellent right notes course. And now I'm very happy because Jaime gave me the possibility to conduct an interview with her. I hope you'll like it and maybe some of you feel like visiting Jaime's website, youtube  channel or even working with her. So, let's meet Jaime.

 -     Hi, Jaime. Thank you very much for this interview. Let’s begin with your studies. When and where did you graduate from university? 
-       I graduated from a school called Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. It was in May, 2008. It was five years ago.
-       What kind of faculty did you attend?
-       I studied History mostly.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Today’s Idiom – Pay Through the Nose

Hi everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I began a new series about idioms. The first idiom was spill the beans. As I told you, Americans (and other native English speakers) use a great number of idioms. It makes the English language beautiful, varied and alive. If you try to learn them, it is a great adventure. In this series within my blog, I can show only a few idioms, but I’m going to introduce books, websites, and video channels that can help you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cattle vs kettle - Short A (AA) and Short E (EH) sounds


Earlier in this blog, after the classification of American English vowels, we began to work on the vowels in pairs. In this series, we were speaking about the /i/ (Long E - EE) and /ı/ (Short I – IH)sounds. And now we’re going to learn about the /æ/ (Short A - AA)  and /ɛ/ (Short E – EH) sounds. The methods we will use will be similar. We’re going through some useful materials from Rachel’s website and video channel, and we will talk about Mandy’ and her excellent podcast. There are many good teachers who concentrate on American English pronunciation, but in my opinion Rachel and Mandy are the best.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Five Common Excuses Not To Learn a Foreign Language – guest post from Lingholic


I don’t need to tell you that I like learning languages. I know there are many people who don’t like to do so. When I ask them why, there are some frequently repeated answers. It’s surprising these people don’t know each other, but I hear the same reasons again and again. I was very surprised when I found a blog called Lingholic. This blog has excellent articles that are helpful and I’d like to show you the kind of excuses the author encounters when he asks, “Why aren’t you learning a foreign language?” This article is based on the passage that I read on Lingholic (written by Sam Gendreau). I have added my comments to each statement. Also, I will give two additional excuses that I hear frequently. You can find Lingholic on Facefook as well.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sheep vs ship - Long E (EE) and Short I (IH) Sounds


Let’s begin to work on vowel sounds in pairs. One of my mistakes was that I couldn’t differentiate between two vowels:  the long E vowel (like in sheep) and short I vowel (like in ship). Understanding the difference between these two vowels is very important, otherwise you can misunderstand others, or you can be misunderstood and  get into an awkward situation. For example, if you say shit instead of sheet during a presentation, or bitch instead of beach, or piss instead of peace, you may seem  offensive, vulgar or very rude. You have to be careful. In this article, I will mention Rachel’s English (including her video channel) and Mandy’s podcast.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

English Vowel Sounds – Part I. Classification


Let’s jump to a serious topic that I’ve had the most difficulties with in my English learning:  the system of the American English vowel sounds. I won't tell you that I haven’t had any problems with consonants, But for now I’d like to concentrate on vowel sounds. This entry will be rather long. Sorry guys, I have to go through it. Hopefully it won’t be as painful as a tooth extraction! First, I must  explain how I will name the American English vowels.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Interview with Gardeniafly

Hi everyone,

Starting with this post, I'm beginning a new series within my blog. I plan to conduct interviews with some teachers whom I work with or whose materials I use. The first teacher I spoke with is Gardeniafly. You can read her comments at the bottom of each blog post.