adventures in english
In order to be functional in any language, it is important to be able to correctly use the most common words in that language. Knowing these words in English will allow you to understand and speak Standard American English well. In addition to knowing the meaning of each word and its usage in sentences, make sure you take the time to learn the correct pronunciation of each word, including word stress. And note that words often have multiple meanings. Make sure you’re familiar with the different definitions of each word.
If English is not your native language, you may be pronouncing some of our really common words incorrectly. If you want to speak English so that everyone understands what you say the first time, it’s important to pronounce these super common words correctly. In this article and the accompanying videos, I will be giving you the American English pronunciation for these words. Note that in several of them, you’ll find the British pronunciation to be different. I have chosen the following words based on my experience working with non-native English speakers over the years.
Do you hate mornings? Is it hard for you to get out of bed and get your day started? I must confess – I am not a morning person. I like to stay up late at night, sometimes watching TV or reading, sometimes working (by choice). I am not lazy. I enjoy nighttime more and feel that I get my best work done later in the day, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I do want to share with you, however, a book I came across a couple of years ago while I was living in China. No, it’s not a Chinese book. It’s a book written in English. It’s called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Enrod (https://amzn.to/2LraOTX). What attracted me to it was the idea that I could revamp my life to be more productive in the morning. Well, I have to confess, that’s not exactly what the book is about, but it is has changed my life in other unexpected ways.
Place names can be confusing to pronounce in English. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the names of cities, states, rivers, etc. are often derived from words in other languages, like Native American languages, Spanish or French depending on who lived in these areas before they became part of the United States. So their spelling and pronunciation can seem unpredictable, even to native speakers.
Let me give you some examples. I grew up in Southern California, where lots of place names are Spanish. This is common in California and the Southwestern part of the United States, such as in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, etc. You have probably heard of the following cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. But, how do you pronounce the smaller cities you haven’t heard like “La Jolla” and “Mission Viejo”? Here’s a hint for you: in Spanish, J is pronounced like an English H and LL is pronounced like Y, so Viejo is Vee A ho, and Jolla is Ho ya. Locals all know the pronunciation and never even think about it, since they hear these words all the time, but newcomers are bewildered.
Part of being a truly proficient user of a language is having a wide ranging vocabulary. English in particular has a very large lexicon compared to many languages. There is very often more than one word or way to express the same idea in English. English also has many words that are similar, but express subtle differences. Learning to vary your word usage instead of repeating the same simple words again and again will enrich your language, making you sound more sophisticated and more educated. It will also give your English a more native feel.
Both personally and professionally, 2017 was an exciting and productive year. In fact, I'd have to say it was one of the best, or maybe even the best year of my life. It was a year full of fabulous travels, visiting family and friends, lots of fun times and the year I dedicated myself exclusively to developing my online English school. I am really happy to be able to follow my passion full time and help more and more people speak clear, understandable English. If you'd like to see more of my adventures, check out the slide show I've created.
I want to talk to you a little about one of the reasons you may be losing opportunities in the American world. Surprisingly, it may not be your accent. Sometimes, people who speak English really clearly and have only a minor accent tell me they need to improve their English. When this happens, I am reminded that there may be an issue that goes beyond the spoken word. People automatically gravitate towards others who are like them. They feel comfortable with similar people and they trust them, since they share common values.
I feel lucky because English is my first language. I have never had to struggle with pronunciation and spelling or grammar rules and exceptions. But as an English teacher, I have worked with people from all over the world who have learned or are currently learning English. I have assisted and guided many through the process of improving their spoken English. I have seen how they struggle.
One of the main causes of a foreign accent when learning another language is interference from our native language. As babies and young children, our brains learn which sounds are and are not important. The young child’s brain quickly learns to dismiss the sounds not included in our mother tongue, and at some point we are no longer able to distinguish them. We do not even notice them, and may have difficulty hearing them, even when they are pointed out to us.
It is not necessarily bad to have an accent, and for some people I would not recommend spending time trying to change your speech. If people have trouble understanding you and your oral English is interfering with your life (in work, school, your business or your personal life), then your will likely benefit from improving your speech. The opportunities available to you and your quality of life will improve as a result.
Today I entered a new reality. It's a reality filled with adoring fans, screaming for autographs and pictures and boys telling me I'm beautiful. They hang on my every word, even though they can't understand what I'm saying. My name is in lights on the marquee, and there is a lavish banquet in my honor. No, this is not a dream. Strangely, this was my world today. I was taken to a middle school in another town to do a workshop for the English teachers at the school. Although the city is big, it has a small-town feel. No one has ever seen a westerner in person, and I caused quite a stir. I was the show-and-tell object of the year.
There are many ways to get around in China. Of course, there are cars, buses and taxis, and we've often seen images of Chinese people commuting by bicycle on TV and in movies. But there's a whole other convenient way to travel. It's by scooter or electric bicycle. They're better than a car because they're very inexpensive, they can go anywhere and get you places fast, even in traffic.
Accent Coach Nicole helps non-native English speakers speak more clearly & understandably, so they can reach their full potential & achieve all their goals & dreams.