September 9, 2019 36

How to sound like a native speaker: THE SECRET

How to sound like a native speaker: THE SECRET


Hi. Welcome again to www.engvid.com. I’m Adam.
Today’s lesson is about pronunciation and phonetics. Now, I said there’s going to be a
secret on how to improve your pronunciation in English – here’s the secret. Are you ready?
There is no secret. It takes hard work, it takes practice, it takes perseverance. You have
to do things, you have to practice things, you have to use your dictionary. You always
have to keep working at it, that’s the secret. But I’ll give you a little bit of a tip on how
to make this a little bit easier for yourself. Okay? What we have here is a list of words, each one
looks very similar, but it has a different phonetic sound. Now, “phonetics” means the sound
of the syllables in the word. “Syllables”… I’ll just write that word here. A “syllable”
is the sound part of a word. For example: the word “cat” has one syllable. The word
“beautiful”, “beau-ti-ful” – three syllables. Okay? So we’re going to learn how to look at
syllables, how to find the sound for each syllable in a word to know how
to pronounce the full word. So we’re going to start with these words because,
again, these are very common words. These are words that all sound very similar, plus I
had a request on www.engvid.com in the comment section on how to pronounce these. Let me say all these words first. “Look”,
“lock”, “luck”, “lack”, “lake”, “like”, “lick”, “leek”, “Luke”, “bloke”, and “let”. Now, “bloke”
and “let” are obviously different words, but there’s no such word as “loke” and there’s no
such word as “lek”, so I had to improvise. But we have a bunch of other ones. Now, for
some of you, a lot of these words sounded exactly the same I’m guessing. Right? They’re not.
They’re very different. So “lock” and “luck” have completely different meanings.
They have no relationship to each other except that they share one, two, three;
one, two, three similar letters. “Aw”, “ah”, very similar vowel sound as well. So, what
you notice above each of these words is the phonetic symbol. Now, there are different phonetic lists. Everybody
has their own list. Find one that you like. I took these symbols from the Merriam-Webster
Dictionary, that’s the American dictionary. If you want to find it online: www.m-w.com.
It’s a good dictionary and that’s where I got these symbols from. Once you start studying
phonetics, stick to one list. Okay? If you want to study British English, use a British
dictionary; American English, use an American dictionary. Most of the words are going to
be the same or similar; some of them will be completely different. So choose your
dictionary, stick to it, practice. Now, if you look at these words in the dictionary
on Merriam-Webster, you will find the phonetic spelling. The “phonetic spelling” means they
spell the word according to its sound. So this “u” with a dot-I hope you can see that
dot-“look”, “uh”. “Book”, “took”, “bull”. It doesn’t matter what the letters on either
side are, the vowel sound is going to be the same with this symbol. With “lock”, you have “a” with two dots on top of it.
“Lock”, “rock”, “sock”, “font”. If you’re not sure what a font is, if you
have Microsoft Word or whatever typing tool you use, there are different fonts; Times
New Roman, Agency, and Calibri, or whatever they’re called. These are
font, but the sound is “aw”. “Luck”, “ah”, sort of like an upside down,
an inverted “e”. “Luck”, “truck”, “duck”, “brother”. “Lack”, just a regular “a”,
“sack”, “pack”, “apple”. “Lake”, “a” with a line across it makes it a
bit longer, it’s called a diphthong because it’s “ae”, it’s like almost two vowel sounds in one.
“Shake”, “bake”, “trade”. “Like”, “i” with a long symbol on top of it, “i”.
It’s also a diphthong. “Bike”, “spike”, “flight”. All the same vowel sound. “i”, regular “i” with nothing on top. “Lick”,
“ih”, “stick”, “pick”, “little”. Okay? “e”, “e” with a long line on top.
“Peek”, “seek”, “freedom”. “Luke”, “Luke” is a man’s name, it’s also from the Bible.
“u” with two dots, it looks like a bit of a happy face with a little dimple.
“Fluke”, “hookah”. Now, before I continue – what is a “hookah”? How many of you have
read Alice in Wonderland? You know when Alice was walking through the forest and she sees
this caterpillar, this big worm smoking a hookah? Still not sure? Hold on. What do I have here?
A hookah. I’m missing the little smoking part of it, but this is a hookah.
It’s pronounced: “hoo-kah”. Okay. If you ever tried them, they’re actually quite
tasty, but we won’t get into that. “School”, “oo”. “Bloke”, now, I had to find a
word that had “ok” in it. “Bloke” is a British slang, it means guy, man – whatever. “That
bloke over there is a very well-dressed.” I don’t know why I used that example. “Spoke”,
“joke”, “lower”. “o”, also a diphthong. “o”, long line. And “let”, regular “e”, “eh”,
“jet”, “bet”, “arrest”. Now, why am I showing you these things? Like why
am I comparing different words? (A): because once you understand the phonetic symbol of a
word, any word that you don’t know how to pronounce – just open the dictionary, find the symbol.
Remember what other word you do know that has this symbol. All of you know
this word “pack”, I assume. All of you know the word “jet”. You see this word, “arrest”,
you think: “Okay, not really sure what it is. I’m not sure how to pronounce it.”, “Ah” like
“uck”, “luck”. “Arrest”, “e”, “eh”, “arrest”. You have one, two syllables. Find each syllable’s
phonetic symbol, learn how to pronounce it. Another good thing about the Merriam-Webster’s
site, online site, you can press a button and it’ll say the word;
you can hear it as well. Now, what do you do with this? So, let’s look
at these words. Now, remember English is the hardest language to understand in terms of
pronunciation because spellings don’t mean anything. This “ea” and this “ea” don’t sound the same.
If you look at the dictionary, you will find out that this word is pronounced: “feather”.
This “ea” sounds like this “e”, “eh”, “fea”, “feather”. This “ea” sounds like
“e”, “feature” like-where are we?-“leek”. “Leek”, by the way, is like the thick, long, green onion.
It’s very delicious as well when you cook it nicely. “Leek”, “e”,
“fea”, “feature”, “feature”. Now, this, you’re thinking: “Fasco”, “fiasco”,
no, it’s: “fiasco”. Again, the “e”, “fi-as-co”. Three syllables, “fi-as-co”. What is a “fiasco”? It’s a big mess
of a situation. The government tried to implement a new policy and it was a big fiasco; it was a
disaster, nobody bought into it. Okay? I’ll give you another example. How do you
pronounce this word? I’ll give you a chance. Separate it into the two syllables. This one
sounds like this one. This one sounds like this one. So, “bull-et”, “bullet”. “Pew”, bullet.
Right? Okay. Again, this is just an example. Keep yourself a list. Get yourself a notebook,
write down these words. Start making a collection of sounds. These are just some of the sounds
in English; there are others. Make yourself a list of sounds. When you learn a new word,
put that word into that sound category, and that’s how you start building your pronunciation skills.
Believe me, at the beginning, it will be very difficult. The more you do it, the
easier it will become, the more like a native speaker you will sound. Okay? I do have a little bit of a tricky quiz on
www.engvid.com. It’s about rhyming. Oh, by the way, all I’m doing here is rhyming; making
words sound similar. A good way to practice as well is go to… Just Google “rhyming dictionary”
and you can look for words that sound similar. Again, but they’re usually one or two syllables
so not as useful. Go to www.engvid.com, try the quiz. And, of course, there’s a comment
section – ask me any questions. And I’ll see you again soon.

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