Improve Your Ability To Understand Speakers With A Strong English Accent Ep 525

A photograph of a horse race with colourful jockey shirts. Today we’ll listen to a recording of a very strong English accent, one you might have trouble understanding. We’ll help you improve your ability to understand this accent.

📝 Author: Hilary

📅 Published:

💬 3043 words ⏳ Reading Time 16 min


Get Better At Understanding Speakers With A Strong Regional English Accent

Today we are going to go outside of our comfort zone and listen to an English speaker with a very strong accent. We don’t always get perfect recordings of English to listen to in real life. This English lesson will really challenge your listening skills and improve your appreciation of the problems you may experience and help you overcome them.

The United Kingdom comprises several countries, each with its own accent. In past English lessons, we’ve covered the Scottish accent and the Welsh. Today we cover the Northern Irish accent as we listen to a famous horse jockey talk about his impressive race career.

It’s really important that you practice listening to real world English as part of your listen and learn process. With practice, I think you will be able to re-listen to the interview I’ve included and see your comprehension skills improve.

You need to experience the challenges of accents, regional vocabulary, distractions and background noise, overlapping discussion. We are going to work with these listening challenges today and I’m going to talk you through all the problems and help you understand what is being said.

Most Unusual Words:

Concussion
Meerkats
Alert
Comfort
Steeplechases
Scan 
Vertebrae 
Stitches
Jockey
Champion 

Most common 2 word phrases:

PhraseCount
Horse Racing4
You Might3
Times And2
Champion Jockey2
Listening To2
The UK2
A Jockey2
Find It2
Breeding Horses2

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Transcript: Improve Your Ability To Understand Speakers With A Strong English Accent

Quite some time ago, I did a podcast, number 196 on British accents - and I gave you help working out a Scottish accent. It remains one of our most popular podcasts. Then there was another podcast where I helped you understand someone speaking in the British Parliament with a very strong Welsh accent - that was podcast number 276.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

So today, I’m going to do the same thing with a Northern Irish accent. That will complete the trio of countries within the UK, that aren’t England. And if you like this podcast, I’ll make some more podcasts covering other British regional accents. But also give us some feedback - write reviews and email us with the kind of accent practice you’d like me to cover! You might want me to look at English spoken with other accents from other countries around the world, as well as British regional accents.

British Accent Practice with a strong Northern Irish Accent

Sometimes it’s spelt simply Mc, MC and sometimes it’s Mac, MAC like in the name MacDonalds. To give A P McCoy his full title - he’s Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, knighted in 2015 and given an OBE back in 2010 - that’s an ‘honour’ that Queen Elizabeth gives to people.

What’s his ‘claim to fame’ - ‘Why is he famous?’ Well A P McCoy was a champion jockey, that’s JOCKEY. And this is in the sport of horse racing. The most famous horse race in the UK is called the Grand National, which A P McCoy finally won in 2010. So if you’re a jockey, your sport is riding horses in races at high speeds. And a ‘jump jockey’, that’s JUMP means a ‘jockey’ that races horses over obstacles or jumps.

These races are sometimes called ‘steeplechases’. That’s STEEPLECHASES,. And that comes from olden times when church towers or ‘steeples’ were used as landmarks in a horse racing competitions across country land.

Within the context of Horse Racing

Horse racing is a dangerous sport, as you’re about to hear. So this Northern Irishman has been injured many times and it’s estimated has fallen from horses at speed on over a thousand occasions. He’s been Champion Jockey 20 times and has broken many bones in his body, as you’ll hear! He’s also retired in 2015 and has been breeding horses since then. Sounds rather safer! But clearly he is an expert in managing and racing and breeding horses.

📷

A photo of a racing horse and mounted jockey. We all face challenges in listening to English speakers with strong accents, but we can overcome these challenges by practising and improving our listening skills.

©️ Adept English 2022


The point for us is his accent and practice listening to a real conversation. Here he’s talking to horse racing presenter Francesca Cumani - and she asks him about his injuries. She’s probably easier for you to understand because Francesa Cumani has quite an RP English accent. Now you might find this recording of A P McCoy easy or you might find it really difficult. Even if you find it difficult, stay with it because I give you an explanation afterwards and when you listen to it again, I think it will be rather easier. Here goes.

YouTube excerpt

  • Francesca Cumani: Just give us a scan, overview, start from here [touches top of head], going down, bits of metal?
  • A P McCoy: Broke me cheekbone...obviously got twenty five stitches in me lip, nose in Wetherby, one Friday afternoon. Got all my front teeth knocked out, so I’ve had er….eleven implants and two bone grafts. Since then I’ve broke my left or right arm, my right wrist, all my ribs, my sternum, my shoulder blades, my collar bones, my T9 to 12, my L4 to 5 - I did it in about ‘96. And I broke my right tibia and fibia...sorry my left tibia and fibia, just thinking about it. Yeah, so I broke my left tibia and fibia and I broke my right ankle.
  • Francesca Cumani: Is that it?
  • A P McCoy: I wouldn’t….It wasn’t too bad, considering. You know that...you know I rode in nearly 18,000 races like, so...and I...and I...and a lot of people...you know, you often think about say a jump jockey…... I actually think I got better at coping with it as I got older.
  • Francesca Cumani: D’ you get better at falling?
  • A P McCoy: No…it’s not...
  • Francesca Cumani: D’you learn how to fall?
  • A P McCoy: Well….I say j…. Yeah, you probably do learn….I think you… What I got, as I got older, I became...I realised, I realised how important it was to be alert and to be fit and to be sharp, so that you re...reactions are quicker because it’s all about reactions when you hit the ground! You know I broke my arm….I broke my arm in Worcester in the week of Royal Ascot in 19...in 2003 an...and I think I broke it because my reactions were slow. You know - for whatever reason in the summer, there wasn’t much racing and I just don’t think I was as sharp as I would’ve been in the wintertime. Pretty much from then on, my mindset changed towards my fitness and how alert I was.
  • Francesca Cumani: That’s why you fell or that’s why you broke the arm?
  • A P McCoy: That’s why I broke the arm.

Hilary’s version of the You Tube excerpt

So how did you find that? This is unrehearsed interview. Not only are you dealing with A P McCoy having an Irish accent, but it’s not rehearsed, it’s not scripted, so there are a lot of sentences where he starts to speak and then stops and then says something completely different.

It’s also outside, so there’s a bit of wind and there’s background noise, including a very loud clanking sound right at the end of the piece! And sometimes the interviewer and A P McCoy speak at the same time - all making understanding more difficult. But the point of all of this - it’s more like ‘real life’.

This is nearer to what it’s like listening to a real English conversation. So let me repeat for you what A P McCoy actually says, so that you can understand it and then listen to him again.

So Francesca Cumani says: “Just give us a scan, overview, start from here [she touches the top of her head], going down, bits of metal?” So she’s asking about the injuries and any ‘metal bits’ in this body A P McCoy replies: “Broke my cheekbone, obviously got twenty five stitches in my lip, nose in Wetherby one Friday afternoon. Got all my front teeth knocked out, so I’ve had er….eleven implants and two bone grafts. Since then I’ve broken my left or right arm, my wrist, all my ribs, my sternum, my shoulder blades, my collar bones, my T9 to 12, my L4 to 5 - I did it in about ‘96. And I broke my right tibia and fibia...sorry my left tibia and fibia, just thinking about it. Yeah, so I broke my left tibia and fibia and I broke my right ankle.” Francesca Cumani responds: Is that it? Meaning ‘Have you finished? Is that the end of the list?’ And A P McCoy says: I wouldn’t….It wasn’t too bad, considering. You know that...you know I rode in nearly 18,000 races like, so...and I...and I...and a lot of people...you know, you often think about say, a jump jockey…… What he’s meaning there is that ‘jump jockey’ it’s a dangerous sport and people would expect that many injuries at least, in 18,000 races. He goes on ‘I actually think I got better at coping with it as I got older.’ Francesca Cumani says ‘D’ you get better at falling?’ A P McCoy ‘No…it’s not...’ Francesca Cumani ‘D’you learn how to fall?’ McCoy rpelies ‘Well….I say j…. Yeah, you probably do learn….I think you… What I got, as I got older, I became...I realised how important it was to be alert and to be fit and to be sharp, so that your, your...reactions are quicker because it’s all about reactions when you hit the ground! You know I broke my arm….I broke my arm in Worcester (that’s another place in the UK) in the week of Royal Ascot in 19...in 2003 an...and I think I broke it because my reactions were slow. You know - for whatever reason in the summer, there wasn’t much racing and I just don’t think I was as sharp as I would’ve been in the wintertime. Pretty much from then on, my mindset changed towards my fitness and how alert I was.’ Francesca Cumani says ‘That’s why you fell or that’s why you broke the arm?’ And A P McCoy replies ‘That’s why I broke the arm.’

Explanation and vocabulary for the You Tube excerpt

Just a bit of vocabulary here to help you. Francesca Cumani starts by saying ‘Just give us a scan, an overview, start from here, {touching the top of her head} going down, bits of metal?’ So here she is asking A P McCoy to do a ‘scan’, SCAN - like what you have in a MRI machine, but in words, describing all the damaged parts of his body, and any ‘bits of metal’ - meaning where he’s had surgery, and had metal parts inserted into his body because of his injuries.

A P McCoy replies with a long, long list of injuries - not surprising given the figure he finally quotes - it’s been in 18,000 horse races! So he talks about breaking his cheekbone having ‘stitches’, STITCHES in his lip and nose at Wetherby one Friday afternoon. ‘Wetherby’ is a place in Yorkshire in the UK. And if you ‘have stitches’ - that’s when you have a wound that needs pulling together - so these are ‘stitches’ put in by a nurse or medic. He talks about having his teeth ‘knocked out’ - and how he has ‘eleven implants’.

An ‘implant’, IMPLANT is something that you inserts or attach, to make part of someone’s body - so here he’s had eleven false teeth implanted. And two ‘bone grafts’ - that’s GRAFT. A ‘graft’ is when you place two living things together, next to one another, touching in the hope that they grow attached. You might ‘graft’ trees trunks or tree branches together - making one branch grow and ‘graft’ into another - and here, they did it with bone to fix one of A P McCoy’s bone breaks.

He then gives us a long list of different bones of the body that he’s broken - ‘ribs’ - long thin bones around your heart, his ‘sternum’ - in the middle of the chest, his ‘shoulder blades’ or ‘scapula’, his ‘collar bone’, also called your ‘clavicle’. And he lists various vertebrae, that’s VERTEBRAE or back bones of the spine that he’s broken - T9 to T12 and L4 and L5. He talks about his ‘tibia and fibia’ which are of course, bones in his leg. And about his ankle. Some of those names for bones are, I imagine the same in many languages.

Quickly Mastering The PRONUNCIATION Of All English Vowels

A reminder about Course One Activate Your Listening

Just pausing a minute to say that this approach, where you listen to some English conversation that’s difficult, I then go through it and help you understand it, then you listen again with more understanding - well it’s exactly what we do in Course One Activate Your Listening.

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

Learn to speak English course one activate your listening product cover art.

It’s a really good way to improve your understanding and your listening skill in English. So if you’re interested in that - go to our Courses page at adeptenglish.com and have a look at Cousre One Activate Your Listening..

Further explanation and vocabulary for the You Tube excerpt

In the later section, A P McCoy is talking about how he learned to get injured less. Francesca Cumani asks ‘Did you get better at falling?’ and ‘Do you learn how to fall?’. In response, he talks about realising that you get injured less, when you are ‘alert, fit and sharp’.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Solve The Maths Problem To Download Podcast & Transcript

‘Alert’, ALERT means when you’re vigilant, when you’re looking around and really noticing what’s happening around you. Meerkats, MEERKATS - they might be super ‘alert’ when they’re on guard. ‘Fit’, FIT means that physically you’re in good form, you’re in good shape. And ‘sharp’, SHARP in this context means ‘mentally sharp’, you’re quick to see things, quick to perceive what’s going on and you’re ‘quick thinking’.

So in the rest of his interview, A P McCoy goes on to describe how he got better at falling off a horse and not being injured so often and about how he believed he stopped himself from getting concussion. That’s CONCUSSION - which is what happens sometimes if you hit your head very hard.

Repeat listening will help you with this!

Anyway, that’s probably enough for now. So go back to the start and listen to the piece again, the recording of A P McCoy. Then listen again to my explanation of the vocabulary, the words being used. And then listen some more to A P McCoy and see if you can understand more of what he is saying.

Doing this will mean you understand more and more each time. Only when you understand every word is your learning on this complete. You don’t get chance to listen again in real life, but you can listen as many times as you like here - and you’ll see how much it improves your understanding of this recording, but also how it improves your understanding in general.

Goodbye

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com

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