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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: ENGLISH CONVERSATION - READING HEADLINES

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You guys love Ben Franklin videos.

They're one of the best ways for you to improve listening comprehension and learn tricks to

sound more natural when speaking English, like using specific reductions.

This January, you're getting five all new Ben Franklin videos where we do a full analysis

of real American English conversations.

Today's topic: reading headlines.

Let's get started with this analysis.

First, the whole conversation.

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people, is, I'll be like,

"oh, I read about…".

Yeah.

But I didn't actually read the actual thing.

The actual about.

I read the headline. Or I read the one-sentence blurb that...

Yeah.

Facebook posts with the headline.

Now, the analysis.

In this little quip of conversation, my friend Laura and I are talking about how we're in

this bad habit of not actually reading articles.

We'll just read headlines and the one-second summary and then we'll talk about it, "Oh,

I read aboutblah blah blah" even though we didn't actually read the article.

Are you guilty of that too?

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

Okay this is a really long through group and I'm speaking really quickly.

But even though I am, I am still making some words longer.

They're being brought out with a little bit more length but also a little bit more volume.

And they'll be a little higher in pitch, they'll have uuuhhh---- this shape.

Let's try to identify what they are.

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

I feel like-

I feel like that's a lot- Let's just start there.

I feel like that's a lot of the-

'Feel' and 'lot' are a little bit longer and they have

the peak of the volume and of the pitch of the stress.

Let's listen to that little sentence part, that little sentence fragment again.

I feel like that's a lot of the-

I feel like that's a lot of the-

I feel like that's a lot of the-

I feel like that's a lot of the-

I feel like that's a lot of the-

So even though we speak

quickly in American English, we still have longer syllables and that is really important

for clarity with American English.

I've had some students who know that Americans speak quickly and they want to do that too.

But it feels way too rushed and the reason why is because it doesn't have these longer

words or syllables within the faster syllables.

We have to have the long ones too.

I feel like that's a lot of the-

Okay let's listen to a little bit more and see

what else do we hear as being a little bit longer, a little bit more stressed?

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

Conversations that I have with people-

Conversa-- So this syllable is a little bit more stressed,

a little bit longer: conversations that I have with people--

'Have' is more stressed here, a little longer.

the conversations that I have with people-

the conversations that I have with people-

the conversations that I have with people is, I'll be like "Oh, I read about…"

Conversations that I have with people is, I'll be like "Oh, I read about…"

So those are for me the longest, most clear syllables and a lot of the other syllables

are said really quickly.

Are there any reductions?

Let's go back and see.

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people-

Let's look at the first sentence fragment.

Um. What's happening?

So, this is not a reduction but it's a link when we're putting two words together when one word ends

with the same sound that the next word begins with.

We don't say 'feellike' but we say 'feel like'.

We connect them with a single L. I feel like-- I feel like that's a lot of the--

I feel like- I feel like- I feel like that's a lot of the-

Another thing, so we have the linked L here.

Another thing I'm noticing is um, how high the intonation is here.

I feel like- I feel, feel- That's pretty high and I guess I was just doing that because

it's sort of funny and so that brought more emotion and energy into the voice which made

the pitch even higher.

Okay, so everything links together.

I feel like that's- K right into TH sound, TS cluster right into the schwa: tsa-

that's a- that's a- that's a-

Then we have 'a lot of the'.

Now it's unclear to me, the word 'of' would be fully pronounced this way,

I definitely reduce it to the schwa.

I'm not quite sure if I dropped the V or not, it's said very quickly.

You can definitely drop the V here.

A lot of the- A lot of the- Then you just use schwa to link 'lot' and 'the' and the

T here will become a Flap T, just one single flap against the roof of the mouth because

it comes between two vowels.

And the little three-word phrase, 'a lot of', is very common.

So practice it that way with me right now: a lot of- a lot of- a lot of- a lot of-

really smooth, forward flow of sound.

A lot of- A lot of- A lot of the conversations that I have with people-

The conversations that I have with people.

Okay so the schwa 'of the' going right into the C, there's no break here.

The conversations that-

The word 'that', I reduce that.

The vowel has the schwa.

Conversations that- that I have with people-

Okay, I'm doing something a little interesting here.

Well, first, the Z sound of 'conversations' linking into the TH.

Conversations that- Conversations that- No stop in sound.

So usually, most people would link this but I don't.

I don't link it with a Flap T. I sort of re-emphasize.

Why do I do that?

Don't know. Doesn't matter.

Usually, we'll link things with a Flap T when the next word begins with a vowel, we'll link

that ending word.

We'll link that ending sound, rather.

When a word ends in a vowel or diphthong plus T and the next word begins with a vowel or

diphthong, just like up here with 'lot of', we so often flap that T.

Every once in a while, we don't.

I'm emphasizing 'I' by putting a little break.

I'm emphasizing that.

I have- I have these conversations with the people--

That I have with people-

That I have with people-

That I have with people-

So even though I don't connect with a Flap T, it's still petty smooth.

There's not a big break there.

That I have with people- So I have.

'Have' is more stressed but 'I' is also a little bit longer:

That I have with people-

That I have with people-

have with people- have with people-

These sounds are all connected.

The V right into the W, the TH right into the P. No break here.

People-

This word can be tough for some people.

Haha.

'People' can be tough for people.

Okay, so the pronunciation is P, the EE as in She vowel in the stressed syllable, and

then the Dark L, pll- pll- pll- in the unstressed syllable.

A lot of people want to round their lips a little bit.

They substitute that in for the Dark L. Try to make sure your lips are relaxed for this sound.

People.

Ull, ull, ull, ull.

You want the back of the tongue to be doing the work for this sound.

people- people- people-

Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like- Okay so this is all pretty mumbled.

IS, the word 'is' has a Z sound so that links into the next sound: Is I'll be like-

So the word 'I', the words 'I will' contract to 'I'll'

but it's hardly every pronounced that way.

It's almost always reduced to something like: all, all, all.

Which sounds like 'all' said quickly.

All, all.

Is I'll- Is I'll- Is I'll-

Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like-

Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like-

Is I'll be like- Is I'll be like- The word 'be' said really quickly.

It's almost like there isn't a vowel there.

Be like- be like- be like- Is I'll be like--

So this is all lower in pitch, a little flatter, it comes across pretty unclear.

So we have sets of words like this, strings of words like this in American English that

are less clear, certainly less fully pronounced and that provides contrast with the clearer

stressed syllables like 'I have'.

And that contrast is important in American English.

Is I'll be like "Oh, I read about."

Oh, I read about.

So here, I'm slowing down.

I'm speaking really clearly because I'm quoting myself.

I'm not just talking.

I'm saying something that I had said.

When we say: I'll be like- 'Like' is another way to say 'she said' so 'I'll be like' is

'I'll say' or if you're talking about a woman, you can say: And then she was like 'No way!'.

That would be the equivalent of saying: And then she said 'No way!'.

So we use the word 'like' sometimes in storytelling as a substitute for 'said'.

I'll be like- I'll say or I said.

'And she was like' is like saying 'and she said'.

Oh, I read about.

Okay so more clear, longer words, ending D links into beginning schwa of 'about'.

Everything is nice and connected.

I do a True T here.

Again, I'm speaking more clearly.

I'm not just talking, I'm quoting myself so I have to make it seem different.

And that's why it's all a little bit more clear that just normal conversation.

Is I'll be like "Oh, I read about."

Is I'll be like "Oh, I read about."

Is I'll be like "Oh, I read about."

But I didn't actually read the actual thing.

But I didn't actually read- I put a little break here separating thought groups.

But I didn't actually read the actual thing.

I do that for emphasis.

It's funny. I'm talking about reading something but I didn't read it.

I just read one sentence about it.

But I didn't actually read- 'Read', much longer, the most stressed word there.

But I didn't actually read- But I, but I, but I- This is like I was saying before, usually

when a word ends in a T and the sound before is a vowel or a diphthong, and the next word

begins with a vowel or diphthong, we flap that to make a smooth connection.

But I, but I, but I-

But I, but I, but I-

But I didn't actually- Didn't actually- It sounds to me like I'm stop, I'm dropping the T.

There's no sense of a stop here: didn't actually- So ending N is linking into the next vowel.

na- na- didn't actually- actually-

I didn't actually-

I didn't actually-

I didn't actually-

Actually.

Actually.

So this word can be four syllables: actually.

Or it can be three: actually.

I think three syllables is a little bit more common.

It's a little easier, that's what I have done.

Ac- tually- In IPA, I would write it like this.

Stress on the first syllable: Ac- tuall- and then I'll probably write that with the schwa.

Actual- ly- Actually.

Actually.

The ending E links right into the next sound, the consonant R. Actually read- Actually read-

So everything is smoothly connected.

actually read- actually read- actually read the actual thing.

The actual thing.

The actual thing.

So I'm stressing this quite a bit.

I've slowed down: The actual thing.

Those two syllables have some stress.

The word 'the' pronounced with the EE vowel.

We typically do that when the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong.

Otherwise, we pronounce it as the schwa: the.

But here, it's 'thee'.

The actual- The actual- and it links right into the next word.

The actual thing.

The actual thing.

The actual thing.

The actual thing.

And as I'm saying that, Laura says: The actual about.

I can't quite tell because I'm speaking at the same time but I think she might be doing a schwa.

The actual.

That's pretty normal too.

I mean the rule is if the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong, you pronounce this

E as the EE vowel but I've noticed Americans certainly don't always do this.

The actual about.

Actual about.

Linking those two words together.

L about- l about- The actual about.

And then she puts a Stop T at the end. She does not release that.

The actual about.

The actual about.

The actual about.

I read the headline.

I read the headline.

Okay, what are the two most stressed syllables there?

I read the headline.

So the words that are usually the ones that are stressed in a sentence are the nouns,

verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

They don't always have equal stress but those are the words that are content words, that

are usually the ones that are these longer, more clear words.

So everything in this four-word thought group is linked together, said very smoothly, always

a forward motion of the voice, not choppy at all.

I read the headline.

I read the headline.

The word 'the' pronounced with the schwa, the next sound is a consonant.

We do pronounce the H in this word.

I read the headline.

I read the headline.

I read the headline.

Or I read the 1-sentence blurb-

Or I read the 1-sentence- I put a little break here while I'm thinking of what word to say.

The word 'or'. This often reduces to 'ur'.

Ur- ur- ur I read- ur I read- I don't reduce it here.

Or. Or I read the- Or.

So the word 'Or' is the AW as in Law sound followed by R when it's not reduced.

But the AW sound really changes here.

It's not the AW, it becomes oh, oh, oh, much more closed.

The lips round further.

The tongue pulls further back in the mouth.

Or, or, or.

Or- Or- Or I read the 1-sentence-

Or I read the 1-sentence-

Or I read the 1-sentence-

'Read' and 'one' get the most stress there.

Everything is linked together.

Let me spell out the word 'one' here.

This letter is a vowel.

But the word, the sounds, are these in IPA.

These are the sounds.

So whenever we're talking about rules like with Flap Ts or this kind of thing or the

pronunciation of the word 'the', we're never talking about letters, we're always talking about sounds.

So the beginning sound of this word is a consonant.

That means the rule is this would be pronounced with the schwa, not an EE vowel.

The one- the one- not: thee one- thee one- the, the, the, the one.

The one-sentence.

The one-s. The one-s. The one-sentence.

One-sentence. Let's talk about this word for a second.

Sentence.

What's happening with that T?

Sent-ence.

I'm making it a Stop T. The rule is when the T is in a sequence of T, schwa, N, that it's

a Stop T. That's what I'm doing here.

Sent- stop the air, really quickly just hold it for a second, sent- ence.

Sent- ence. ence. ence.

Sent- ence.

Other words like this: Mountain.

Kitten.

Fountain.

Curtain.

I have a video where I go over this a little bit more in detail, you can search on YouTube,

Rachel's English Mountain.

And it should come up.

Sentence.

One-sentence.

One-sentence.

One-sentence.

One-sentence blurb that

So now I say: Blurb that- and that's one thought group.

I'm thinking of exactly what to say.

blurb thatblurb that

So I might normally reduce the word 'that' to the schwa but I don't here because I'm

thinking about what to say so I'm speaking a bit more slowly.

Blurb that- So that keeps its full AH vowel, it does have a Stop T. Blurb that- Blurb that-

So here we have an R, a B, a TH.

Three consonants in a row.

Blurb that- I don't release the B. B is a stop consonant just like T.

The lips come together, that stops the air.

And then they release: bb-bb-

But we often don't release stop consonants in conversation especially when the next sound

is another consonant.

So my lips come together, I make the B sound: blurb-

But then, rather than releasing, I go right into the TH sound.

Blurb that- Blurb that- Blurb that- Blurb that-

Blurb that- Blurb that- Blurb that-

- That... - Yeah.

That. Yeah. Laura says 'yeah'.

Up down shape of stress, she knows what I'm going to say, she agrees with me, she probably does it too.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Facebook posts with the headline.

Facebook posts with the headline.

Facebook posts with the headline.

So more stress on 'face' and 'head'.

'Posts', this is a verb and I said that nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are the words

that are usually stressed.

But not all of them will be stressed everytime.

Facebook posts with the headline.

That would be too much.

So even content words are sometimes not stressed compared to the stressed words in a sentence.

Facebook posts with the headline.

So here we have STS.

I do make all of those sounds.

Posts.

Posts.

Posts.

Posts.

Posts.

Posts with the headline.

Facebook posts with the headline.

With the headline.

So I said before when we have the same sound at the beginning and ending of a word that

links together, two words that link together that we make one sound.

So 'with' is usually pronounced with an unvoiced TH, 'the' is usually pronounced with a voiced TH.

When these two words come together, which happens pretty frequently, the unvoiced sound wins.

It's stronger. With the- with the- with the headline.

With the headline.

With the- with the- with the- with the-

So its like taking the word 'with' and just putting a schwa at the end.

with the- with the- with the headline.

Facebook posts with the headline.

With the headline.

With the headline.

With the headline.

The D sound in 'headline'.

D just like T, just like B, is a stop consonant.

Here, it's followed by another consonant.

And when stop consonants are followed by consonants, they're very often not released.

So it's not headline.

Head. Head. D, d, d- we don't release the tongue.

Headline.

We say: headline.

So we put our tongue up into position for the D, we make a quick D sound,

but rather than releasing, we go right into the L sound.

Headdddline.

Headline.

Headline.

Headline.

Headline.

Headline.

Headline.

Let's listen to the whole conversation one more time.

I feel like that's a lot of the conversations that I have with people, is, I'll be like,

"oh, I read about…".

Yeah.

But I didn't actually read the actual thing.

The actual about.

I read the headline. Or I read the one-sentence blurb that...

Yeah.

Facebook posts with the headline.

That analysis is really fun and helpful, right?

Click here to see other Ben Franklin videos on my YouTube channel.

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Join my online school Rachel's English Academy.

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The Description of ENGLISH CONVERSATION - READING HEADLINES