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Presidente Ex Prof. Maurizio Righi
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How to Understand Fast-Talking Native English Speakers | English Listening Skills
Learn English: How to understand native speakers
Do you find it hard to understand casual English conversations? It’s not your fault! Native speakers don’t speak clearly, but you still need to understand them. In daily conversation, we take shortcuts in our speech. This is usually done by “dropping” consonant sounds. In today’s video I’ll explain why this happens, and how you can improve your understanding of native speaker pronunciation. You’ll get to hear some of the most common words and expressions that English speakers drop consonants from so you’ll be prepared when you hear them. I’ll also teach you strategies to improve your English listening skills and recommend some listening exercises you can do while listening to music and watching movies.
Hi. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. I’m Adam.
Today’s lesson is a little bit tricky because I want to help you understand native speakers. I want you to understand how they speak.
So, for example, if you hear somebody say: “What did you do that for?”
You should be able to understand what the person said. Now, whether you understood what I just said or not, not important yet; we’re going to get to that.
So “Native Speaker Pronunciation”. Now, before I get into this lesson, I want you to understand: I don’t want to teach you how to speak like this. Okay? I don’t want you to speak like this. I want you to speak good, clear, strong English, just like I’m speaking to you now. But I also want you to understand that when I am with my Canadian friends, for example, I speak a little bit more like this. It’s just natural, it’s habit. It’s not a good habit, but it’s habit. Okay?
Now, I had a few comments on www.engvid.com, quite a few people asking me: Why do I understand you? Like why do you understand me, Adam, but when I watch a TV show or when I watch a movie, I don’t know what they’re saying?
Why? Why such a big difference? Well, first of all, let me say that I am speaking to you, knowing what you can and cannot understand, for the most part. So I don’t speak to you like I… Like I would with my Canadian friends who are native English speakers. I don’t speak to you like Hollywood actors speak on the movie. Okay? I’m speaking to an audience.
I know that they need to listen to me, that you need to understand everything I say, so I enunciate, I speak very clearly. I stress each syllable so that you can catch every word I say.
But I’m going to talk about when and where to speak like this in a minute.
So, I did actually do a lesson about how to speak like a native speaker before. You can learn how to make elisions, how to connect sounds, how to… When you have two sounds that are the same, to drop one of them. This is a little bit different.
We’re going to look at dropped sounds inside words. Now, these words, for example: “listen”, no “t”; “plumber”, no “b”; “dumb”, no “b”.
These words are not dropped sounds words. These are just the way these words are constructed; we are supposed to make the “t” silent, we are supposed to make the “b” silent. That’s just how the word is built.
But native speakers, native English speakers… And I’m sure this is the same in your native language if you pay attention carefully to how you speak and how your friends speak, we like to take shortcuts. Okay?
We don’t like too many syllables. We like to have fewer and fewer syllables to make the speech go faster. We don’t want to think too much about what we’re saying.
So, for example, here are a few words. Now, I’m looking at consonant clusters. Does everybody remember what a consonant is? B, c, d, f, g, etc. Vowels: a, e, i, o, u. All the other letters, consonants. So when we have consonant clusters, these are groups when you have consonants bunched together; you have a few of them together. When we have words with this situation, we tend to drop one, maybe two of those consonants.
So, for example, the word “probably”. Pro-bab-ly, pro-bab-ly-. I have three syllables in this word, but when I’m speaking in natural speed, I say: “Probly”. -“Are you coming to the party tomorrow night?” -“Yeah, probly.”
Now you’re watching me on a TV or you’re watching me in a movie, and you’re thinking: -“What?” -“Probly.” -“What?” -“Probly.” Okay? All I’m saying is “probably”, but what I’m doing, because I have “b, b, l”, I have a little cluster of consonant sounds, I’ll just drop this one; I don’t need it. You’ll understand me without it, right? I think with another native speaker. “Probly”. “Good bye”, even two consonants, ah, too much. “Gobye. Gobye”. I barely even say the o’s, I just say like: “Gobye”. Okay? “Old friend”.
Now, in the other video, I told you if the letters… The very last letter and the first letter are the same, you can drop one, but we do it anyway, even if they’re not the same.
“I have an ol’ friend. Ol’ friend who I met for dinner last night. Oh, I met an ol’ friend from high school.”
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