English Pronunciation Practice
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Hi, I’m Hilary and welcome to this, our latest podcast from Adept English. Welcome back, if you listen regularly to our podcasts and if this is the first time you’re listening to one of our podcasts, then it’s a good idea to visit our website at www.adeptenglish.com. There you’ll find a lot of other podcasts like this one. Every single podcast is available to download as an MP3 file, so that you can listen to it when you’re doing other things.
So that you get used to listening to English. Every single podcast has a transcript, which you can also download so that you can see the written words for everything I say. That can be really helpful when you’re trying to learn a language. There will be some changes coming up on the website. There’ll be some more courses available for you, but we’re just putting the last pieces together with these. We’re just finishing them off, so I’ll have more news of these in the next couple of weeks for you.
Now today’s subject – I’m going to talk about some English words which are hard to pronounce. So this is one of the podcasts where, although I’ll spell out the words for you, it’s probably a really good idea to have the PDF transcript in front of you, at least the first time you listen. OK….so I’m just going to move around and pick a few different words which are difficult for…difficult to pronounce. It’s interesting – they’re difficult for English children when they first start coming across them, as well.
So place names – this probably is a whole podcast in its own right. Place names, British place names can be quite difficult. ‘They’re not at all logical necessarily. So I’ve just picked a couple. There’s an area in East London called Greenwich, which you might have heard of in terms of ‘Greenwich Mean Time’, GMT? Now, Greenwich, when it’s written down looks like G-R-E-E-N-W-I-C-H, so you would be forgiven for thinking it was ‘Green Witch’, but Greenwich is the pronunciation. And there are lots of places like this in the UK. Another one would be Worcester, which is spelt W-O-R-C-E-S-T-E-R. Worcester is the town and of course as happens often, with county towns, there’s a whole county, a whole area called after the town and this is Worcestershire, so that is W-O-R-C-E-S-T-E-R-S-H-I-R-E. Another one, which you may know because of their football team, Leicester. This one looks like ‘Ley-cester’, but it’s pronounced Leicester, L-E-I-C-E-S-T-E-R. Now again Leicester, like Worcester, is the county town, so the main town within the county. And the county is called Leicestershire LEICESTERSHIRE. There are plenty more of those, but they’re ones that you may have heard of. Certainly Greenwich and Leicester are probably well known outside of the UK.
OK – another one, which I know I’m aware of – school children, British school children struggle with this too – a choir. Now a choir is a group of people who sing together, who put on a performance, who will sing songs for people to listen to. And choir is spelt C-H-O-I-R, so it looks more like ‘ch-oi-r’ or something like that. But choir is the pronunciation there.
Difficult animals. So things that are hard to say when you’re learning English. A squirrel. Squirrels are certainly native to the UK. They’re little animals that live in trees, with long tails and they eat nuts. We have them at home – lots and lots of grey squirrels live in our garden. So squirrel is S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L. Another one, also that live in our garden are hedgehogs. Now hedgehogs are little spiky creatures, they eat slugs and snails. They curl up in a ball and they’re very prickly when you try to approach them. So that’s a hedgehog. Another one which is difficult to pronounce is a penguin – and these certainly don’t live in our garden. You will find penguins in the Antarctic. They’re birds, but they don’t fly, but they swim very well and they’re black and white. So that’s a penguin. It’s also a brand of book – Penguin are a publishing company, so they publish books.
One that you’ve probably come across. If you’re talking about families, then the word son, S-O-N is very easy but daughter a bit more difficult, probably again because it doesn’t sound how you would imagine, given the spelling. The spelling of daughter is D-A-U-G-H-T-E-R. So it’s another one of those words with German roots – that’s why it’s spelt as it is. It’s more like ‘Tochter’, I think, in German.
OK, let’s pick some from cooking and food. So if you eat lettuce, now that means salad leaves, so leaves that you can eat as part of a salad, with your tomatoes and your cucumber. That would be lettuce. Now lettuce is spelt L-E-T-T-U-C-E. Another word that is difficult sometimes is fruit, so F-R-U-I-T. And fruit is a collective word for apples, oranges, bananas, cherries, pineapples, gooseberries, blackcurrants. All of those are fruit. Now you can say fruits, with an -s on the end – you would use it like that usually when you were picking them. So if there were lots of, you were talking about…I don’t know – cherries or something, you might say ‘fruits’. Apples, pairs, you might say fruits. But it’s much more common to refer to it as fruit. So you can have a single fruit, but fruit also means the plural, it means lots and lots of them. So you would talk about fruit…a bowl full of fruit, you would say, rather than fruits.
Another one, I remember struggling with this one, when I was little – recipe. So a recipe is a set of instructions that help you cook something. So a recipe will tell you all the different things which you need to put in it, so if you are baking a cake, a recipe will tell you you need eggs and sugar and butter and flour and how much. And then it will tell you how to make it into a cake. But it looks like ‘rec-ipe’ – R-E-C-I-P-E, it is pronounced recipe. And another one – my son has struggled with this one recently, so had to be corrected – cafe. So if you sit and you drink a cup of coffee, sitting on the pavement, in front of a cafe, nice tables and chairs, it’s not ‘cafe’ although it looks like that, C-A-F-E, but cafe. But I think that that’s a word, which probably is fairly international, so I expect you may know that one already.
Let’s pick a couple more from…..geography. So island. So it’s probably a word you’ve come across before – Great Britain is an island, Australia is an island. I-S-L-A-N-D – so it looks like ‘is-land’, but pronounced island. Confusing too – Ireland is a country. So Southern Ireland is one of the countries in the EU and Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. So Ireland, you can hear it’s slightly different – there’s a bit of an ‘r’ sound in there. Ireland is spelt I-R-E-L-A-N-D and island, you can’t hear an ‘r’ in there, that’s I-S-L-A-N-D.
Another geography connected word, that is difficult – rural, R-U-R-A-L. So rural is the opposite of urban. Urban means in the town, or in the city, so you might talk about an urban landscape. And rural means in the countryside, out where there’s lots of trees and fields and grass and cows and farms – not town. So they’re quite….they’re opposite, rural and urban.
OK – last couple. Again, you may have heard of these. Weight and height. Now what’s confusing about these two is that the spelling is the same, pretty much. They look as though they should rhyme, but they don’t. So height that means how tall you are. I’m 165cm tall. And height is H-E-I-G-H-T. Weight is how heavy you are – so W-E-I-G-H-T. So yes, height and weight.
Now let’s practise some sentences with these words in, for the sake of your pronunciation. This is what we do on our courses – or it’s a part of our courses. So I’ll give you a sentence, then I’ll give you space to repeat it and practise with me. I’ll give you each of them a couple of times.
My favourite animals are squirrels, hedgehogs and penguins.
I have two daughters and a son in my family.
(Let’s get all the food ones into one sentence.)
At my local cafe, they use a recipe for a salad which has lettuce and fruit in it.
The Isle of Wight is quite a rural island.
I like singing, so I think I’ll join my local choir.
(And the last one…….)
You can look online to check your weight is OK for your height.
OK, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon.