Boom! Here we are!
Another little rant video for you, guys!
So, I just had a lesson with one of my students and
He's from the Philippines and has trouble with some vowel sounds so, I found, you know, we'll make this a long episode
I found that quite a lot of Asians, I think because of the way in which
Asian were, Asian languages is sort of set out, how the sounds are in Asian languages
They don't often move the sides of their mouths to this kind of position which happens a lot in
European languages like English and French, the ones I know at least, you'll have a lot of vowel sounds that are
Etc with the lips coming in.
So, one thing to pay attention to if you guys are from languages where there are fewer vowels or you
you know that you keep the mouth wide is to pay attention to those vowels like
And the lips moving in if the sides aren't coming in,
you're probably doing something wrong with pronouncing one or two vowels. Anyway, so we had a discussion about that and he was asking me about
Understanding him and I got into sort of a conversation with him about
Confidence in English and
whether it's better to speak well with the kind of vocab that natives use or whether it's better to focus on getting your
pronunciation to be closer to that of natives
So, we were having a bit of a bit of a discussion about those two things and I said for him
Once he nails a few of these sounds that he's having trouble with
Like the TH and a few of these vowel sounds and not pronouncing the R in words like bird or Peter
Etc, If you want to be Australian I said after he sort of gets those sounds down
he's still gonna have an accent, but he's gonna have reduced it quite a bit and
At that point, I would start focusing on learning
Well, I'd probably start before then, but once we sort of do that, I would focus heavily on
using the kind of language that natives use
So, this is one of those things that it can be hard to do this
Passively, you can listen to natives and you can understand what they're saying quite often, but you're gonna miss little bits and pieces
so, quite often you need to go out there and actively
Study these kinds of things, you need to actively ask questions of native speakers
What they're saying, why they're saying it, when they're saying it, even if you understand what they're saying, you know?
You get the gist of it because I get that with Kel, my wife, who's from Brazil quite a bit. I
Understand nineteen ninety five percent of what she says when she speaks Portuguese and as a result of that it's kind of a two-edged blade
It's rare for me to not understand the context or the situation and therefore
words that I may not know I can kind of let go by
Because I kind of understand what she's saying,
But once you get to that point, which is a good level to be out in any language
You have to kind of keep tapping yourself on the wrist, right?
Bitter thunder, we got a storm coming through. You have to keep forcing yourself to ask ''You just said a word,
I didn't know, you just used some grammar, what was that
Exactly?" and it's kind of a painful process,
But that's how you get to learn those kind of tidbits and the things that natives are doing that
You may not pick up just from listening. You have to actively practice them. You might be asking
Okay, what do you mean, Pete, when it comes to English?
Two examples that I gave him were using phrasal verbs and using phrasal verbs like
To be up to something. To be up to
Something, meaning to be doing something because you'll hear natives say that all the time. What do you up to?
What are you up to tomorrow? I'm not up to much at the moment
Are you up too much? Let's go to the beach! I wanted to get up to something today
So, they use that kind of language all the time
You might hear it and understand what it is, but try and make a concerted effort to use it yourself.
The second example was 'I'm after something'. I'm after a coffee. I'm after Peter, is Peter there?
I've called up and I'm after Peter.
I'm after a pay rise. I'm after a break.
To be after something is another really good one that he'd never heard of and it is to want something
I'm after something, right? The idea of following something. I am after it
It's first. I'm after it, to chase after something, to run after something. I'm after something so, that was a really good one
So, I was, we were working on these in the lesson and
Learning these kinds of just quite simply common verbs that natives use that aren't necessarily taught
or they're very, very advanced and they're not often in these kinds of
Grammar books or lessons that are sort of tackling basic English, right?
So, pay attention to what natives are saying. If you miss something,
where possible, ask what it was or
clarify or get some kind of information about what it was that you
You didn't understand or that went by, right? Because that's the only way you can learn that thing.
Someone may utter a phrase to me in Japanese a hundred times, but if I don't ask what they mean
I'm never going to learn what it is, right? But as soon as they've said, you know, konnichiwa that means hello, BAM
I know what it is and every time I hear it, I'll know what it is. So just don't lose that
Curiosity and that thirst for learning new things
Even if you've gotten to a really good level, which you will be at, if you can understand me right now
I'm not slowing things down. I'm not simplifying how I would normally talk
This is how I would talk, if you can understand me now, you've got a very good level in English,
But don't get comfortable, keep chasing that improvement, keep actively learning things
Keep trying to absorb things, keep paying attention to detail. Keep trying to learn things. That natives are using.
So, we were talking about that and I was saying the accent is part of it,
But you don't need, you know, if you've got a bar of
imagine zero to
100, 100 is native level accent and zero is you can't pronounce any sound in the language, right?
Pretty short, after a pretty short period of time, you get to you know
70% on that scale, 80% on that scale
90% on that scale and
And it takes more and more effort to get higher and higher on that scale and you get this sort of diminishing returns, right?
It's not, it's probably not worth your time to invest a hundred hours
Improving your accent by two percent, right? Where you could have spent a hundred hours learning that kind of vocabulary
or connected speech or
Different things apart from pronunciation that will make you sound more like a native speaker. That's the point. I'm trying to make, ok?
So, to talk like natives pronunciation is just one part of the entire
Another one there is using these kinds of ticks, right? You know?
''I tell you what" or something like that, those kinds of filler words, fill of phrases
I know that...I'm sure it's the same in your native language at school, in my
Native language, English, I was always told don't say um, don't say ah, don't say you know, don't say right,
But that's how native speakers speak. You'll turn the TV on, you'll see politicians and they'll still say ''you know, right'',
Ok? So, learning those kinds of phrases helps fill it out, you know, obviously don't go overboard
Don't use them too much, you know, right right, you know, right right, right
Every now and then it adds a little bit more
To the way that you speak and it'll make you sound more like a native speaker
One big thing, yeah, is getting that "um"
right in Australian English. "Um"
Right? It's that A kind of sound
So, you'll see there that it's right at the back of the throat, right? A, the tongue's pulling down the mouth coming wide
One story for you is I remember working with a spanish girl when I was working in
The restaurant in Melbourne, Portello Rosso, which had an Italian name, a
Red Door, ''portello rosso'', but a
Spanish theme of the food, go figure!
So, this Spanish girl spoke really well,
but she had a bit of an accent and the most not annoying, but jerking kind of
Frustrating thing when talking with her that would sort of remind me that she was a foreigner would be when said...
Because Spanish speakers have a different kind of neutral valve for when they say ''umm'
instead of saying ''um''
They have more of a nasal kind of M
Sound like that, which sounds natural in Spanish, but when you use that in English, it sounds very peculiar
So, that's why I think it's very important too to try and nail those kinds of filler words and sounds
Learning those kinds of sounds is really going to help you blend in with natives.
The last little point that I wanted to talk about, which was the sort of focus for making this video
Come around and finally gotten to it
Was he asked me at one point:
"Do you understand when I speak? Do you understand when I speak English?'' and I said well I'm talking to you right now
I'm giving you a lesson
This is lesson number five or something, if I didn't understand you you paying me for for nothing.
I understand him. That was the basic point
Was saying that quite often if you say something, and this is the problem that intermediate to advanced
language learners have in their foreign language,
Especially when they're shy and they don't have a lot of confidence,
If you say something to me and you don't give me a lot of context
So, for instance, if you would have just say, you know, this was the example with him
Right? So, I'll explain what that is. A cuppa is
a cup of
Tea or coffee, right? A cuppa, a cup of, a cuppa tea. Do you want to have a cuppa? I'm after a cuppa
What are you up to? Having a cuppa?
And then he said how do I pronounce cuppa
compared to copper? Which is a policeman, right? A cop, a
Copper and this is where we got talking about the sides of the lips
Copper, cuppa. And so I said to him if you just say that one word
Cuppa and you do mispronounce it
That's where I'm gonna have trouble
I'm not going to know what you mean because I have no context and I don't know if the way in which you pronounced it,
Assuming you pronounced it correctly or you pronounced it so...
You pronounce it wrong, but it sounds exactly like something else
So, you said copper, but you meant cuppa or you said cuppa, but you meant copper
If you don't give me more context quite often
I'll get confused or I'll think you've said something else when you didn't say something
This is when I'm sure you guys have had this experience when native speakers, you'll see in their eyes, they kind of go...
Or they they dip their head forward. They'll be like
What? You know, that verse sort of like ''Sorry, what? What did you say?''
A big way to get around that even if you don't have perfect pronunciation, which, you know,
The average person learning any language doesn't have perfect pronunciation
Use more words,
Use more context, fill your sentences out, talk more, talk more, because, ironically, by talking more,
Although you may make more mistakes,
You're more likely to be understood because of the added context, right? Even if you are mispronouncing those words
So, I said to him, if you just walked up to me and say cuppa,
But you'd mispronounced the word copper. So, you were trying to say copper, but you said cuppa,
I would either think you were talking about this
I would be like ''I don't understand.
What do you, cuppa what? Like I need more context"
Whereas, I said to him, if you would have mispronounced the word, though, and
You said it in context
''I called the coppers and they're coming now because of the car accident''
I'd know instantly, even though you mispronounced it,
You said, you meant to say copper or if you said ''I'm gonna go get a copper. Are you guys after a copper?''
"I', thirsty, I might grab a copper'' a copper tea, even though you've mispronounced that I would be like...he's talking about a coffee
He's talking about tea. So, that was the basic point here
I said to him don't reduce the amount you say because you're worried you won't be understood
In fact, do the opposite, use more language, use more sentences, use more
Descriptions, use multiple ways of describing things, you know, it's really hot outside. It's boiling. It's sweltering
the more language you use, whatever language it is that you're learning, the more chances you're giving the listener to
Interpret what you're trying to say
even if you're mispronouncing words
So, that was it for today. That was our sort of little lesson that we did over half an hour, we were talking about
Focusing on those things you know or can find out, you're mispronouncing that you can fix at least you can fix easily
They're not going to take a lot of time to fix
TH, can you guys say the TH, right? And the vowels?
nail those or do it as best you can, after that try and learn common phrases and
The filler words. Um, ah
Right, you know?
You know what I mean? Those kinds of phrases that are just jerk, knee-jerk reactions for natives, but make us
Make us sort of separate it out from foreign
English language learners, right? Because they don't tend to use those words to the same degree, learn those and then beyond that
Once you're learning that kind of vocab the, you know, to be after something
To be up to something, learn more phrasal verbs, learn more phrasal verbs, apart from that
Language, speak more. If you're worried
You're not going to be understood, give the listener as much opportunity as possible to interpret from the information
You've given that person, right? And I'm sure that there are many parallels, many
Analogies I could draw out of that in real life, usually,
More information is better than not enough
Information, when someone has to work something out, ok? Anyway, I've ranted, it's been about 15 minutes
I hope this video is helpful, guys. Let me know what you think below
And also, shameless plug, check out the podcast if you're not already listening to the podcast, theaussieenglishpodcast.com
and check out my classroom with over 50 courses, theaussieenglishclassroom
.com, go check it out. I want to see you guys in there. Anyway, peace out and I'll chat to you soon!