Speaking Practice: ‘Read All About It !’

2nd November 2020

The best way to improve your pronunciation is, obviously, to listen and then to copy.

Practice, practice, practice

IELTS students in particular need to demonstrate a variety of speaking skills: intonation, stress, chunking, elongating words for emphasis, not to mention body language, eye-contact and gestures.

Therefore, without further ado, here’s a number of clips for you to practice, and don’t forget … have fun !

First off the bat, President Obama speaking in Florida, October 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UoPB7SvCGk&t=364s

I want you to focus on the speech from 05:44 – 06:15

“I just want you to know it, it’s a good idea to have an answer to this question … it’s a good idea if you’re running for re-election to say, ‘Here’s what I want to accomplish.’ What did Trump say ? He got mad and walked out of the interview. He thought the questions were too tough. Too tough ! Miami, listen, if he can’t answer a tough question like, ‘What would you like to do in your second term ?’ then it’s our job to make sure he doesn’t get a second term.”

From a linguistic point of view, notice the differences between British and US English, words such as ‘interview’. Notice how President Obama paces himself … leaving space between sentences, how he stresses certain phrases (“Too tough !“). Finally, listen to the ‘music’ of the last sentence. His voice is building up to a climatic, “Doesn’t get …” which is an incredibly powerful way of speaking.

Now, let’s have a speech from President Trump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVG1uR9wr-A

I want you to focus this time from 00:53 – 01:20

“…and ensure more products are stamped with that beautiful phrase: ‘Made in the USA.’ And next year will be the greatest economic year in the history of our country … under my leadership our economy grew at the fastest rate ever recorded, 33.1%, just announced. We created a record 11.4 million jobs in the last five months …”

Naturally, not everybody agrees with President Trump, nor his style of debating. Here’s how Vice-President Joe Biden reacted to being constantly interrupted:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Gw–6t3s4

Watch from 0:40 – 0:44

“Will you shut up, man !”

Time to bring it closer to (my) home, and British politics. You saw how polished and professional President Obama was … but that is not always the case. Here is former Labour (left wing) politician, Diane Abbot who was famous, or infamous, for making mistakes in the media.

In this clip, the politician is forced to listen to a recording of a radio interview where she couldn’t answer the question. This can make you cringe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYZ262b7wBI

Watch from 0:37 – 1:18

The question was how much would 10 000 extra police officers cost ?

“Well, if we recruit the 10 000 police men and women over a four-year period, we believe it will be about £300 000 …”

Interviewer speaks

“Haha, no, I mean, sorry, they will cost … they will, it will cost … um about … about £80 million … yeah !”

Now, the British Parliament may be regarded as an icon of modern democracy and free speech but it can get out of hand. Politicians, like children, can be noisy and in need of discipline. A strong presence is required to maintain order. Here’s Mr John Bercow, former Speaker of the House reprimanding a politician:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-2002454/Video-John-Bercow-couldt-flying-flamingo-view-is.html

Here Is Why Brexit Has Been Delayed

“If you don’t like it, you’re perfectly entitled to your view, I couldn’t give a flying flamingo what your view is.”

Let’s wrap up with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN7ojP2Q6kY

From 0:34 – 0:46. PM Arden is talking about winning the election and the votes or ‘seats’ that she needed in order to secure victory.

“We have seen that support in both urban areas and in rural areas, and seats we may have hoped for but in those equally we may not have expected.”

To the ‘students’ that talk during my class, here’s a word from Vice-President Biden:

Will You Shut Up Man | Know Your Meme

Thanks, Joe.

Vietnam on Video: Part 2

26th October 2020

A collection of clips predominantly featuring western people and their views on Vietnam. I have also added some suggested sequences for pronunciation practice … and so, without further ado …

First time in Viet Nam – First impressions of Viet Nam

A vlog by Divert Living, posted just over two years ago and which has already received more than a million hits:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHnQKvU8OiA&t=547s

Pronunciation Practice:

[American English accent]

Try 04:44 – 04:53

” … and I asked them, ‘How much is aqua (water) ?’ Aqua’s fifteen thousand, beer’s twenty thousand … of course I’m gonna get the beer, now … it’s just as expensive as the water.”

09:00 – 0913

“Fun fact, Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world … and, to go with the food, the size of the dining tables and chairs are super small.”

This vlog was shot in Ha Noi, so let’s get their take (their opinion, view, experience) on Sai Gon:

What to expect – Saigon or HCMC

Now they travel to my neck of the woods (the area I live in or was brought up in), and they encounter, among many other delights, coconut coffee:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iw_K-1AmVk&t=661s

Pronunciation Practice:

09:50 – 10.00

“Wow … that’s so strong, but it’s got a ball of coconut ice-cream in the middle … whoah !”

And the young lady who I believe is Korean adds:

“I wanna try … This is the coffee king … ahhhhhhhh !”

Talking Point:

The young travellers give their views on the environment and cleanliness of District 1 which is the city centre [UK] or downtown area [USA].

To what extent do you agree with them ?

What do Vietnamese students think of the Vlogger’s appraisal of Sai Gon ?

Let’s move on and talk about traffic which is quite a serious issue in Vietnam. Firstly, attending driving school … what can go wrong ? A clip from the world-famous motoring show from the BBC, ‘Top Gear.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1xNTBLgq4c

[UK English accent]

Right from the get go (from the very start) we have some great lines:

“Cheer up … this is gonna be a doodle … [Vietnamese] … it wasn’t !”

01.23 – 01:45

“How the hell … what did you just do ?”

“It was eighteen. Eighteen years old.”

“How did you know ?”

“Did you not bother learning Vietnamese before we came here ?”

“Well, no.”

“You’re screwed, then.”

Time for some food and the ubiqitous Phở My favourite TV chef, Mr Keith Floyd, who sadly passed away in 2009. He came to Asia, and visited Vietnam and now he’s going to tell you about Phở:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO6cSQ8Vly8&list=PL4JTuMl25i9kPkTq5rGPVRNyhU0GPK1PT

[UK English accent]

02:32 – 02:38 and continuing up to 03:05

“Vietnamese are industrious, hard-working, incredibly energetic people …”

“So, the most essential thing here in Vietnam is a great breakfast, a thing called a pho.”

What goes in a pho, Keith ?

“You might put chicken, you might put meat, you might put fish but as long as you’ve got noodles and a rich stock, you can’t go wrong.”

How English people dress …

Top 5 Coolest Celebrity Chefs Ever! « Appliances Online Blog
Cheers
Far Flung Floyd | DVD | Buy Now | at Mighty Ape NZ
Top Gear Vietnam Special - Tour Vietnam With Quality Motorbike Rentals
Three Englishmen in Sai Gon

How English people really dress. Thanks for visiting my blog. All the best.

Listening Exercises: Corona special.

6th April 2020

Virus corona: 'Khả năng cao' sẽ lây lan diện rộng ở Anh Quốc - BBC ...

Firstly, let me start by wishing you all the best. I hope you are staying safe and well. Aside from the medical implications of this pandemic, the widespread lockdown is affecting people’s psychological health, their jobs and therefore their financial security.

As the death toll in my native UK approaches five thousand, our Prime Minister has been hospitalised, and people are being advised to stay indoors, self-isolate and maintain social distancing.

Against this backdrop, I have two recent clips to help my students.

I appreciate that learning English isn’t a priority at the moment, but my school remains open (for online teaching) so people can continue working and therefore have money to pay living costs and help the economy continue.

So, without further ado, the first of clips:

If the clip doesn’t open, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE4Cmr1j0tA

On the 5th April, Queen Elizabeth II addressed (spoke to) the nation.

For students, this is a chance to hear Queen’s English, as spoken by the Queen. Not only will this assist your pronunciation, but you will also encounter many new words and expressions.

As listening is very hard, I suggest only playing ten or twenty seconds, then replaying until you feel confident that you understand. After, copy, imitate the accent, listen for stress and intonation.

Queen’s Address 5th April 20202:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/05/queens-coronavirus-speech-full-will-succeed-better-days-will/

The text of the speech is below

I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.

I want to thank everyone on the NHS front line, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles, who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all. I am sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.

I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones. Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.

I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.  

The moments when the United Kingdom has come together to applaud its care and essential workers will be remembered as an expression of our national spirit; and its symbol will be the rainbows drawn by children. 

Across the Commonwealth and around the world, we have seen heart-warming stories of people coming together to help others, be it through delivering food parcels and medicines, checking on neighbours, or converting businesses to help the relief effort.  

And though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation.

It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made, in 1940, helped by my sister. We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do. 

While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us. 

We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.

But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.  

The second clip is from the newly-appointed leader of the Labour Party, Sir Kier Starmer. This clip has English subtitles:

Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbOakNL-XqE&t=300s

New vocabulary and expressions:

anti-Semitism: prejudice and hatred towards Jewish people

NHS: the National Health Service

poignant:feeling of strong sadness

play its full part: to do a job properly

we will shine a torch on: we will look carefully at something and discuss it if we disagree.

to call something out: to speak if you think someone has made a mistake or is doing something wrong.

You will hear many new expressions in this speech. Write down words and phrases you don’t know, look them up online, then try to use them in your English.

Love Is GREAT Britain: A Welcoming Country For All

Everyone stay safe, stay well