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Category: Pronunciation

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Knock, knock. Who’s there?

You may have heard one of these jokes in movies or series, they are a “call and response” type of joke. It starts when one person pretends to knock on a door and the other person (supposedly inside the fictional place) has to ask “who is there?” and the fun of it consists in having […]

Tongue twisters

Tongue twisters are challenging phrases that contain many hard to pronounce syllables or alternation of similar but distinct phonemes. They can be a used as a kind of word game because the speakers usually cannot articulate properly the words in a fast and clear manner, causing confusion and good laughs. They are also a good […]

1337 sp34k

h3y, h4v3 y0u 3v3r 533n 50m30n3 7yp1n6 l1k3 7h15?   Could you read that sentence? That is called 1337 sp34k – leet speak. It originated back in the 1980’s Internet bulletin boards and became really popular in the end of the 1990’s and the beginning of the 2000’s. It was created by hackers to cryptograph […]


Imagine you call a friend and he can’t answer you at the moment. Then, he texts you: CMB L8R Would you understand his message? We are always in a hurry and abbreviations are here to help writing, specially in casual conversation contexts. They are easy to type and, most importantly, they save time. However, they […]

Person, Persons, People, Peoples?

Did you know that the word person has two different plural forms? The most common plural form is people, but did you know that persons is also correct? Persons; however, is a very formal word, more frequently used in legal contexts. Take a look at this example, taken from English Grammar Today, Cambridge:      Any person or persons found in possession […]

Discovering new accents

When I ask students why they have decided to learn English, many say that it’s important for their careers, for their future job prospects, so on and so forth. It upsets me a little bit, because for me, the incentive to learn English is because it’s a beautiful language. It takes something from practically every culture […]

Same Spelling, Different Pronunciation

Every student of the English language knows that pronunciation is a major problem in English. The fact that the spelling of a word does not always correspond to the way that word is pronunciation is mind-boggling to say the least. In this post I’ll talk about another pronunciation quirk in English, which is when words […]

Those -ed sounds…

The other day, a student asked me what he could do to improve his speaking. I stopped and thought for sometime and said he should focus on one goal, an immediate one, so that he could measure his progress in order to be motivated to achieve further goals. Then we agreed that he should start […]

All Varieties of English Are Welcome

Picking up from where we left off, many students worry about their accent when speaking English. Some would like to have one closer to Americans; other would rather go towards British English. There are even those who think if you don’t make up your mind between which one to follow, you’ll end up not speaking […]

Teens vs Adults in English Pronunciation

I’d like to start my participation in this blog by approaching a very interesting topic related to pronunciation. More specifically, to the difference between adults’ and teens’ pronunciation in English. Many adult students of mine have complained that their teen children “don’t study at all, but have awesome English pronunciation.” They also add that they […]

The tricky “ous” sound

Often in my classes students have a recurring problem with the pronunciation of words that end in ous. I mean, words such as  famous, fabulous, notorious, ambitious, etc. Portuguese speakers pronounce every sound of ous; however, in English the ou of ous has to sound the same way the letter “a” is pronounced in about. […]

I Worked There for One “Ear”

You must now be thinking I’ve gone mad, or that this post is about body parts. Relax, I want to talk about pronunciation. English language learners often have problems to say the words ear and year correctly. They are pronounced differently. Year needs to have a /y/ sound at the beginning such as when we say the words yellow or young. Ear does […]

The Oscar: How do You Say It?

The Oscar nominations have always generated quite a buzz in the media; however, the 2014 list of nominees has caught my attention for something other than the great performances given by the actors. The name of one of the nominees is so different that frankly I didn’t even know how to try to pronounce it! I am talking about British actor, […]

Saying Dates in English

It is surprising when an advanced student still hesitates when saying dates in English. We assume that dates are learnt/taught in the basic level, so it is strange to notice this difficulty in an advanced student.   Here are some of the difficulties I have observed among my students:   1) Wrong pronunciation.   We […]

Pronunciation – A Collection of English Accents

The Speech Accent Archive is a collection of a variety of English accents – both native and nonnative. The usefulness of this collection lies in the possibility of comparing and contrasting how English speakers pronounce things differently depending on their geographical area. Although the website might look a bit technical at first, especially because they […]

Do you speak English or American?

It is often said that the United States and England are two countries divided by a common language. Although for the most part the two varieties are mutually intelligible, there are a lot of differences between the two, especially as regards to pronunciation. In this video, you can explore some of these pronunciation differences.   […]

Do you speak English or Engrish?

It’s no news that English has become a necessity, making communication across geographic borders much easier. However, embarrassing mistakes often arise when people with a poor proficiency in English attempt to translate local vernacular into English. To give you one example, I once saw “fried chicken cookie” (ugh!) on a menu in a posh bakery […]

MailVU – Unleash the Power of Videos

  I sometimes need to answer many mails, and I found an easy way to do it more meaningfully in no time. Have you heard of mailVU? This simple site lets you record messages really easily and send them via email. It can be used to improve your English too. You can just record a […]

Practicing Listening with Podcasts

Most students learning English say that one of their biggest problems is listening. There are many reasons they give: English speakers speak too fast, or they use too much slang, or they don’t pronounce words clearly enough, or… The list of reasons is endless, but the truth is that most people have a lot of […]

Pronunciation Tip – “ss” pronounced as “z”?

Don’t feel embarrassed if you have also mispronounced words like ‘possessive’ or ‘possess’ at least once in your life. I believe everyone has done that! The fact is that the words ‘possessive‘ and ‘possess‘ are pronounced like ‘pozessive’ and ‘pozess’. Click on the words to listen to their pronunciation. But, we, Brazilians, tend to think […]

Pronouncing “their”

Some English words look easy and we take their pronunciation for granted. One example is the word “their“. Even teachers mispronounce it sometimes. We should pronounce “their” as we pronounce “there“. Do you want to check? Just click on the links below and you’ll be directed to an online dictionary. Just click on the sound […]

Pronunciation Tip #5

What do the words “numb,” “thumb” and “debt” have in common? Well, they each have a silent “b.” Yes, we do not pronounce the “b” in these words, and that has been another pronunciation challenge for us Brazilian speakers of English. So, in order to help you identify more words in which the “b” is […]