English Sound Pronunciation: The British Spring
Summary: English Sound Pronunciation
In this English lesson we will focus on the English word sound pronunciation part of speaking English fluently.
Speaking English is a combination of being able to listen to a conversation, understand it, be able to recall the words quickly enough to say what you want to say fluently AND To pronounce those words so they are clear and understandable to others.
So, I was thinking what topic would help us learn to practice English word sounds as I was walk down the tree-lined streets, where I live. You can’t help but notice British spring time is upon us. With birds making lots of noise and trees and flowers trying their hardest to blossom, everything feels new and possible.
Which means today we will talk about spring, art and the artist David Hockney and talk about some interesting things to see (even if you can only see them on YouTube). As per usual we will make it interesting so you can listen to the audio many times.
Audio Transcript: English Sound Pronunciation: The British Spring
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Today we’re going to do an English lesson, which will help you with your English sound pronunciation. When I say that, actually that’s nothing unusual, not for us. All of our Adept English material helps you with your sound pronunciation because listening to English, spoken by an English speaker will help your brain build up that knowledge of sound pronunciation, a lot of it, without you even being aware that it’s happening.
So listening to me speak – and understanding what I’m saying – and repeating that listening is key to all kinds of things. But it’s the most natural way to work on your English sound pronunciation – because just in this podcast, you’ll hear not just my sound pronunciation, but my intonation, where the stress or the emphasis is correctly in each word. And your knowledge of sound pronunciation builds gradually, each time you listen – so that in the end, the number of English words and phrases, where you just know how to say it correctly – well it grows and grows!
If you would like more information on our ‘Listen and Learn’ method for learning English, why don’t you sign up for our free course The Seven Rules of Adept English. Free, did you say – yes, it’s complete free, nothing to pay. What’s there to lose? Just try it!
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What is an artist?
So to help you towards that goal, I’m going to talk today about a subject that interests me – and your learning will happen just by you listening. Here goes. One of my favourite artists is David Hockney. Now David Hockney is a living British artist. So many of the great artists lived long ago, so it’s fascinating to have an artist who lives in our own time. An artist, A-R-T-I-S-T in English in its purest sense means someone who creates works of art. Traditionally of course, this means painting – when you use paint and brushes and you create a painting or a picture on a canvas. But the term artist has been stretched to include other types of art, so you might find that musicians – people known for making music - are also called artists. You might have make-up artists or mime artists – so it’s used for lots of different types of creative activity. But the artist is always a person and what they create is art, A-R-T.
David Hockney is an Artist
So David Hockney is an artist in the traditional sense. He works with brushes and paint, mainly acrylic paint and traditional canvases, that you hang on a wall, that you would find in an art gallery. For art gallery, think the Tate in London or the Louvre in Paris, or the Prado in Madrid. David Hockney is famous for all kinds of work. And he started producing art work in the 1960s when Pop Art was happening – think of Andy Warhol and the tins of Campbell’s soup or pictures of Marilyn Monroe. Or Roy Lichtenstein’s comic cartoon style work. Does that give you the idea?
One of Hockney’s most famous paintings from this period was ‘A Bigger Splash’ - showing a swimming pool with a splash, where the person had just dived in. What I particularly like about David Hockney - he will be 82 years old in July 2019 – but he is still producing art work! His enthusiasm for art – and his different ideas just keep coming! He’s also an avid smoker – that means that he enjoys smoking cigarettes, something that’s becoming quite rare in the UK. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, smoking, but just that David Hockney seems to continue, despite a habit which for many people damages their health. But he just carries on and is absolutely ‘his own person’.
What I also like about David Hockney is that despite being a famous artist for over 50 years and despite being one of the best-loved living artists in the world, he is what we call ‘down-to-earth’. ‘Down-to-earth’ is a really British expression – and it means that he’s ‘just normal’, he’s got his feet on the ground, he hasn’t forgotten where he comes from and has respect for normal people. He’s also from a county in the UK called Yorkshire, which probably helps. If you come to the UK, and you don’t just visit London, but you go as far north as Yorkshire, you’ll find that on the whole people there are pretty friendly – and they’re down-to-earth. So David Hockney is from Bradford in Yorkshire, and he’s still got his lovely Yorkshire accent. He’s lived in California for years – but has his accent changed? No, it’s still undeniably Yorkshire! Like him, it’s remarkably resilient.
David Hockney’s Art Projects
And when I say that David Hockney is ‘still going’, when he’s done projects in recent years, he doesn’t just produce the odd painting here and there. He’s what we call ‘prolific’. Prolific, P-R-O-L-I-F-I-C is an adjective and when we say someone is prolific, it means that they produce a lot of work. So one of his recent projects in 2016 ended in an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London, and it was called ‘82 Portraits and a Still Life’. And it was just that – 83 paintings in all – all painted for this exhibition. A portrait, P-O-R-T-R-A-I-T is the name for a painting or a photograph of a person, whether it’s just the head or the head and shoulders. And a ‘still life’ means when artists paint things like fruit or flowers or other objects, usually just to show how good at painting they are. So that’s still, S-T-I-L-L meaning something which doesn’t move and the word life, L-I-F-E – so it’s usually something that’s ‘alive’ like plants, flowers, fruit or vegetables. The other two main types of painting are landscape, L-A-N-D-S-C-A-P-E – and that’s when you paint the countryside. And abstract, A-B-S-T-R-A-C-T which is when it’s about shapes and textures – and not identifiable as people or places or things.
So ‘82 Portraits and a Still Life’ – was a big exhibition – and an enormous amount of David Hockney’s energy and enthusiasm went into this. All the people on the portraits are seated – and most of them were either famous or people that the artist knew. It’s always interesting when there is a relationship between the painter, the artist and the subject, the person he’s painting the portrait of.
A Special Exhibition
Every spring in the UK, I’m reminded of my all time favourite David Hockney exhibition, which was in 2012. It was again in London at the Royal Academy of Arts, called ‘A Bigger Picture’ - a slight joke, I think on the title of his much earlier famous painting ‘A Bigger Splash’, that I mentioned earlier. However, some of the pictures in this exhibition were enormous – really large – and they were all the most beautiful Yorkshire landscapes. Views of landscapes which vary in mood, time of day, colour, light and they were of trees, hills, rivers, fields. One of the series, actually was made on the artist’s iPad and it tracks ‘The Arrival of Spring’ in Yorkshire. So by ‘spring’ here, I mean the season of spring, which goes with winter, summer and autumn. Remember, if you’re wanting to learn US English, autumn is called ‘fall’ instead.
So for ‘The Arrival of Spring’, David Hockney made pictures on his iPad every few days of the same views, but you can see how the leaves slowly appear on the trees, the flowers come out, the light changes, the weather improves. He captures the change from winter to spring beautifully. And although he’s painting things like this, it’s not sweet or sentimental – it’s somehow more ‘in your face’ than that, if you know that expression!? Anyway, if you want to see what I’m talking about, go to your search engine (Google, Bing Yahoo) and put ‘Hockney’, that’s H-O-C-K-N-E-Y and ‘The Arrival of Spring’ into Google or wherever, and click on ‘Images’ and you’ll see some of these paintings.
Spring is here and it looks like a David Hockney painting!
And I noticed something really interesting – and you can find this on YouTube. On the 20th, 21st and 22nd March this year, a couple of weeks ago, there was a light show in Amsterdam, (I don’t know how to say this name but...!) at the Museumplein, which brought to life one of these ‘Arrival of Spring’ paintings with live classical music. So it was a moving image, projected on the outside of the building. If you want to see this, there’s a link at the end of the transcript for this podcast.
Boring Lessons Look Like This!
And every spring in the UK, I think of these paintings by David Hockney. I think that Britain looks at its best in the spring. Trees come into blossom, that means they have flowers on them often before the leaves come, the daffodils are up – and it’s just the best time of year for the British landscape to look good. It is beautiful. And given what is happening politically for us at the moment, given our difficulties with Brexit, we need our British spring to cheer us up! We need to reassure ourselves, this is a nice place to live!
So hopefully this podcast has helped you work on your English sound pronunciation. If you listen to this podcast a number of times, you will be gradually improving your sound pronunciation, simply by listening. Anyway, if you enjoy learning through listening – visit our website at adeptenglish.com and have a look at the courses page. Maybe you’re ready now for Course One: Activate Your Listening so that you can improve your English conversation as well. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Pronunciation Is The Icing On The Cake When Learning To Speak English
Note: Not sure what Icing on the cake means? We have a podcast on that here. https://adeptenglish.com/2018/12/10/cherry-on-the-cake/
So today‘s lesson is about phonology, which is the system of relationships among the speech sounds that make up the fundamental components of a language. We will practice how to pronounce English words and how to form the correct sounds.
Pronunciation is probably the least important part of speaking English fluently, but for some people it is the part they hate getting wrong the most. In the real world, almost all native English speakers will accept a miss pronounced word. So long as they understand what it was you were trying to say and just ignore the mistake, the worst that can happen is they might ask you to be a little clearer when you say the word.
So not a big deal. Pronunciation always improves with time, if you listen to a lot of English being spoken you will improve your own pronunciation. By listening to native English speakers, using the correct received pronunciation, your brain will learn what sounds right and what sounds wrong. This will be invaluable to you when you are speaking English, as you will know intuitively that you are pronouncing a word correctly, your brain will automatically spot miss pronounced words for you.