Tag Archives: pronunciation

Phonetizer: an online free tool to help you improve pronunciation

One of the most difficult things about learning a language is its phonetics. Unlike other languages that have pronunciation rules, the English language has very few pronunciation rules and lots of exceptions. Knowing the International Phonetic Alphabet can help you pronounce words correctly.
Phonetizer is a little tool that transcribes English texts into the International Phonetic Alphabet. Phonetizer is very easy to use. It has two panels: in the first one, you write or paste the text and  then click “Transcribe” and in the second panel you will get the transcription. In this second panel you can also select a word or a phrase and click “Speak” for the software to read your selected words or phrases.

 

Wanna have a laugh? Try to guess the answers to these jokes. They are written with phonetic symbols using the International Phonetic Alphabet. (answers below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Nothing. It just waved!

2. Because he had no body to go with.

3. Because it had a virus.

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Did you Know….Aged?

Did you know that the word “aged” has two different pronunciations?

 

1.It’s pronounced /eidʒd/ when it means “years old” or when it is the verb in its past or past participle form

♥a woman aged 40

♥she has a son aged eleven

2. It’s pronounced /ˈeɪdʒɪd/ when it is the adjective (formal)

♥an aged professor

♥ my aged computer is very slow

Also : The aged in this country need more services. /ˈeɪdʒɪd/ = very old people

Hope it helps! Keep posted!

Common Errors 3: Pronunciation and Grammar Errors

This is a quick post written on a Friday afternoon!

I promised I ‘d be with you every step of the way and here I am again, with a new post on common errors I have been hearing these days during tests.

The thing is I am totally sure  most of the students I interview, don’t normally have these mistakes and though I am well aware oral exams can be  really intimidating for some students the truth is that, unfortunately, there are some mistakes you cannot make when trying to get a  degree for a certain level and being nervous is a poor excuse.

Please, make sure, but really sure 🙂 you don’t have these mistakes because they are really important. For example, make sure you know how to pronounce “man”  ( I’ve been hearing ” a men” ) or the word “nervous” that you use so often at the beginning of the exam.

Check their pronunciations here

Everybody makes mistakes  and it is OK to correct them. So, if you feel you have made a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct it. Native speakers do it all the time.

But please, double check you do not make these mistakes .(grammar input below the image)

1.”People ” is plural and  takes a plural verb

2.Here and here (exercise here)

3. After an adjective , you need to use the verb in the infinitive form

It is easier to make mistakes

It is important to learn English

4. ” news” is uncountable , you need the partitive “a piece of”  or “some”

Some good news / a piece of good news

5. “hair” is uncountable , therefore you cannot say “a hair” ( unless it is in the soup 🙂

6. Difference between used to and usually  here (exercise here)

7. Other/Another . Grammar here, Exercise here

Also, check the difference between fun and funny 

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Six Wonderful Sites to Help you Write, Speak and Sound Better

I’m not a native speaker. Even though I read, write, work and I would almost dare say live  and dream in  English, I haven’t learned the language from birth and sometimes have moments of self-doubt. These websites I am going to share in this post have been an invaluable help.

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Howjsay  and Forvo: The world’s largest dictionaries of English Pronunciation

How often have you come across a proper name you had no clue how to pronounce and you desperately needed to know the  correct standard  pronunciation of or perhaps  a variant pronunciation of this word?  Let’s say you want to know the pronunciation of the word “selion”. You go to the most important online dictionaries offering pronunciation, but the word you’re looking up is not there and you suddenly begin to panic. At this stage you can do three things: panic, pretend you know how to pronounce it ( you just know how to sound British, no problem there) or look up the word in any of these two amazing sites that have saved my skin countless times.

Linguee

We all know how difficult it is to write, even more in a foreign language. More often than not we look up words in dictionaries only to find that it offers so many possibilities for the translation of the word that  we don’t know which one to choose for the context we need. In fact, sometimes it doesn’t help us at all but makes things more complicated as we don’t know which word to use to mean what we want to express and we end up completely frustrated. Here, Linguee can help us as it is a bilingual dictionary but  in context

Phraseup

Sometimes we know what we want to write, the sentence is phrased in our mind, but we can’t figure out some of the words we need. This is where phraseup*comes in. It assists you with writing, by suggesting possible combinations to fill-in the words you can’t remember. Each suggestion is accompanied by definitions, synonyms and translations to other languages.
Imagine you know there is an expression containing the words ” take” and “granted” but you have forgotten what goes in the middle, PhraseUp can help you here, too. Just type the words that you remember and put an asterisk * where you want the application to insert something. Very useful, isn’t it?

Or maybe  you want to use the verb+preposition combination “cope with” but you are just not sure which words it collocates with, just type it in PhraseUp and options will be provided.

Ozdic.com

I have been using ozdic.com for years and this is a dictionary I cannot live without. It is not any dictionary, it also help you to sound more natural when speaking or writing in English. Let’s  say you don’t know the preposition that collocates with the verb “insist”, or which adverbs sound  more natural with this verb; let’s imagine you need to use the word “idea” but you have no clue what adjective to use  apart from the overused “good “. Go to the dictionary now, this is just a sample of what you’ll find : bright, brilliant, clever, excellent,, marvellous | valuable, worthwhile | exciting, inspirational, interesting, stimulating | constructive, positive | absurd, bad, mistaken, ridiculous | , crazy, mad, outlandish, wild | half-baked | ambitious, big, grand.

The dictionary contains over 150,000 collocations for nearly 9,000 headwords and it is based on the 100 million word British National Corpus.

Text2Phonetics 

It is a wonderful tool that can save a lot of time if you need to transcribe something. I have tried it with small texts (two or three lines) and it’s incredible! You will be able to  pronounce a whole text perfectly .
Just paste the text you want to transcribe and click the Transcribe Button to get the transcription.

Teaching Diphthongs

It’s never easy to teach phonetics and even though I love teaching this skill, I don’t think my students share my feelings on this subject. Anyway, in case you find it interesting or useful this is how I’m planning  to teach diphthongs.

diphthong is a sound made up of two vowels, or in other words, a vowel sound that starts near the articulatory position for one vowel and moves toward the position for another. In RP (the approved pronunciation of British English), there are eight diphthongs.

An easy way for them to remember the diphthongs is by drawing a face such as this one and then eliciting the diphthongs in the head.

You’ll get seven out of the eight diphthongs as you can see from the picture. To get the last sound you can always ask students:” Which Diphthong is missing ?” and set this task as homework.

face |eɪ| |  boy /ɔɪ/  ear / ɪə/ eye /aɪ/ nose /əʊ/  mouth /aʊ/  hair  /eə /

What diphthong is missing ?  /ʊə/ as in tourist | ˈtʊərɪst |

Click here if you want to listen to the pronunciation of these diphthongs.

 ACTIVITY FOR TEACHING DIPHTHONGS 

♥ Ask students to work in pairs and give each pair a different diphthong. Tell students they have two minutes to write down words containing this diphthong. Encourage students to write different parts of speech: nouns,adjectives, verbs…etc. Divide the board into 8 columns, label each of them with a different  diphthong and list students’ words  correcting  any mistakes.

Tell students, still working in pairs,  to choose any  column from the ones on the board. Give students 3 minutes to write a sentence using as many words in their chosen column as possible. Ask students to read their sentences and tick off the ones they have used. The winner will be the pair who has used more words from their column.

Get ready for some funny sentences! 🙂