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  • Hello and welcome everyone. This is Minoo at Anglo-Link.

  • Today's video is all about listening comprehension.

  • I have some interesting tips for you. This is particularly for those of you

  • who still find it a little hard to understand native speakers

  • or watching television in English

  • or listen to the radio in English.

  • I'll be telling you about some specific aspects of the English sound system

  • and some speech patterns that native speakers use

  • that can make listening in English

  • a little bit of a challenge

  • by the end of this video,

  • you will have a really good understanding of where the difficulties that you might be facing come from

  • and what you can do to overcome them

  • and really improve your listening comprehension.

  • So, when you're ready, lets begin!

  • Right!

  • Today I'd like to share

  • 3 keys with you

  • that will really improve your listening comprehension of native speakers.

  • Let's look at what these 3 keys are.

  • the first thing is to understand is what makes native speakers hard to understand.

  • The second key is improving your own pronunciation.

  • And the third key to improving your listening comprehension is

  • learning primarily

  • with your ears

  • rather than your eyes.

  • Okay, lets start with understanding what makes native speakers

  • hard to understand.

  • They're two main reasons for this.

  • The first one

  • is the great number of vowels and diphthongs in English.

  • And some of these are very similar to each other.

  • They're many words where the consonants are exactly the same.

  • And by changing the vowel sound

  • the meaning changes.

  • And when these vowel sounds are very similar

  • and especially if one or the other

  • doesn't exist in your own language.

  • This can make it

  • quite a challenge

  • to understand a native speaker.

  • Lets look at some examples.

  • These are called minimal pairs by the way.

  • Same consonants,

  • different vowels.

  • Minimal Pairs.

  • Boat

  • and Bought. Mad -Mud.

  • Hurt

  • Heart

  • Men

  • Main

  • Than

  • Then. Bit - Bet. Live

  • Leave

  • So, notice

  • the only difference is the vowel

  • or the diphthong and

  • they can be very very similar. So, in connected speech they're not easy

  • to tell apart.

  • This is the first reason

  • why listening to English native speakers can be challenging.

  • Now, lets look at the second reason.

  • The second reason is the way that native speakers shorten

  • and link sounds.

  • Let's give you a quick example. Look at this sentence:

  • How is it going?

  • You would hear from a native speaker:

  • 'how'zit going?'

  • There are three specific speech patterns

  • that all native speakers use.

  • And I'm going to take you through them one by one.

  • Speech pattern number one is contractions.

  • Contracted verbs and negatives.

  • You're pretty familiar with these.

  • I'm

  • He's

  • They'll

  • We've

  • Won't

  • Can't

  • etc...

  • What is important to remember

  • is that native speakers

  • always use these patterns when they speak.

  • Except when they want to stress a point.

  • That is why there's a difference in tone and meaning between

  • 'O.K. I'll do it.'

  • and

  • 'I will do it.'

  • 'Nothing can stop me.'

  • When we use the contraction there's no stress

  • on the contracted form. There is no particular emotion.

  • The other example,

  • when you've used the full form,

  • 'I will do it'.

  • you want to show determination.

  • So, as using contractions is the norm rather than the exception in spoken English.

  • I would recommend that you try and use them as much as possible yourself.

  • Firstly, you will sound more natural

  • and secondly

  • you'll be able to hear them more easily when native speakers use them.

  • Just be careful not to use contractions

  • in formal writing. When you're writing a letter, or a report,

  • or an article.

  • Always

  • keep it to the full form.

  • Keep the contractions

  • for speaking.

  • Moving onto speech pattern number two.

  • Speech pattern number two is called week forms.

  • Grammatical words, such as modal verbs,

  • possessive adjectives,

  • prepositions,

  • etc...

  • are seldom fully pronounced in a sentence.

  • The vowel in them is reduced

  • to a shorter vowel

  • or

  • disappears completely.

  • Let's look at some examples:

  • Here we have the modal verb 'can'.

  • In the sentence,

  • it can sound like 'kn'.

  • The vowel disappears.

  • 'I kn ski.'

  • Let's look at another example:

  • Possessive adjective:

  • 'my',

  • very clear,

  • in isolation, 'my'.

  • But in the sentence

  • it sounds

  • 'Here's me book.'

  • You can hardly hear it.

  • And another example:

  • Preposition: for.

  • In the sentence

  • the vowel is reduced to 'fa'.

  • 'It's fa you'.

  • Now, you don't need to use these week forms at all when you speak.

  • As your message will be

  • even clear without using them.

  • However,

  • you do need to be aware of them

  • and anticipate them

  • when listening to a native speaker.

  • Let's look at speech pattern three.

  • Which is phonetic links.

  • Generally any word that starts with a vowel

  • is linked to the previous word.

  • And this makes it

  • hard to hear

  • each word distinctively.

  • Let's look at some examples:

  • 'He works

  • as an engineer.' You've got

  • three words that begin with vowel. 'as', 'an'

  • and 'engineer'.

  • In connected speech

  • they all run into each other.

  • 'He works sazanen gineer'.

  • Second example:

  • Here you have

  • four words that begin with vowel.

  • is,

  • interested, in, it

  • and they all run into each other.

  • 'she(y)isinterestedinit.'

  • And there's a semi vowel

  • (y)

  • that links

  • the vowel

  • at the end of 'she'

  • to the vowel at the beginning of 'is'. She(y)is.

  • And our third example:

  • Two words: one ending with a 't',

  • the next one starting with a 't',

  • they run into each other, and then

  • to words starting with a vowel.

  • 'an amazing'.

  • Once again

  • all this section

  • runs into each other.

  • 'They wentto(w)anamazing place.'

  • And once again you have the semi vowel (w)

  • that connects the vowels

  • 'to' and 'an'

  • to each other.

  • Once again

  • you don't necessarily need to use these links when you speak

  • as your message will be perfectly clear without them.

  • However,

  • you do need to be aware of them and anticipate them

  • when you listen

  • to native speakers.

  • Now often,

  • you get at least two of these speech patterns,

  • sometimes even all three,

  • in a row in a sentence.

  • and that is when you can feel really challenged.

  • Let's look at an example:

  • 'He won't accept it from me.'

  • You have the contraction 'won't', you have

  • two words beginning with a vowel; 'accept' and 'it',

  • and you have the preposition 'from'.

  • So, in connected speech

  • you will hear:

  • 'He won'tacceptit fromme.'

  • At this point you are probably asking yourself; well what's the best way to

  • familiarize myself with the speech patterns?

  • I think the best way

  • is transcribing audio files.

  • If you already have a CD of dialogues,

  • with transcripts,

  • then listen to the dialogues

  • and write them out

  • and then compare what you have written with the transcript.

  • If you do not have such CD's,

  • I recommend Anglo-Files

  • 104 and 108

  • from Anglo-Link's selection of audio files that you can access

  • on our website.

  • anglo-link.com

  • These are selections of daily dialogues

  • and business dialogues

  • which you can listen to and transcribe, and then

  • check what you've written against the transcripts

  • on the site.

  • This will really improve your listening comprehension of native speakers

  • and at the same time

  • will help you to activate

  • loads of useful functional expressions.

  • Now, if you have never studied the English sound system, if you've never

  • studied pronunciation on its own,

  • I strongly recommend our Anglo-File

  • 117.

  • In this Anglo-File,

  • you will have a complete list of all the vowels, of all the diphthongs,

  • all the consonants in English that you can practice.

  • It also has loads of minimal pair exercises

  • that will help you to

  • distinguish

  • vowel sounds that are similar from each other.

  • It also has a section

  • on the speech patterns we've looked at. You can listen to weak forms, contractions

  • and phonetic links, and transcribe them.

  • This will be really really helpfull if you have not familiarised yourself

  • with the English sound system yet.

  • Now if you want,

  • you can do a transcription exercise now

  • by clicking on this image.

  • If you prefer to continue listening to the presentation,

  • you will have the chance at the end of the presentation

  • to do it then.

  • Right.

  • So, once you've familiarised yourself with the English sound system

  • and also know how native speakers shorten

  • and link sounds.

  • The next step is to improve

  • your own pronunciation.

  • Clearly,

  • if you're mispronouncing a word because you learnt it by reading,

  • and guessed how it was pronounced,

  • Then it is likely that you will not catch it when you hear it.

  • There're two common traps,

  • if you have guessed