How the turntables…

I usually write my daily idiom only on my English Facebook page as a short, simple way to remember them. However, today’s idiom is very easy to remember, thanks to a funny clip from one of my favorite TV shows!

IDIOM OF THE DAY

*turn the tables (on someone)*

To change a situation so that you now have an advantage over someone who previously had an advantage over you.

“Michael turned the tables on his demanding boss by bringing his successful co-workers to the office.”

Watch the following video about Michael Scott on the hit show “The Office.” In this episode, he changed jobs because of a disagreement, and wanted to show his old boss how “the tables had turned” (meaning, his boss had the advantage, but now Michael has the advantage. The tables have turned on his boss). He tries to say “How the tables have turned!” Instead, he makes a mistake:

(transcript)
“Hello.”
“Hi.”
“Michael Scott paper company to see Mr. David Wallace. I believe we’re expected. Well, well, well; how the turntables…”

As you can see, even native English speakers make mistakes with idioms! Its not so terrible, but it does make the situation a lot funnier like in this TV show. So now, maybe next time you won’t forget how to say “How the tables have turned!” like Michael did. Don’t be like Michael, learn from him mistakes. He makes a lot of them.

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“Oo” vs. “W” – Especially for my Japanese students!

This topic is one that doesn’t seem to be a problem for some people when learning English, but I’ve seen that it can be especially difficult for Japanese learners. Because most Japanese learn with カタカナ(katakana), some of the sounds are not exactly right.

For example,

ウ is the English sound for “oo,”  as in “blue,” “chew,” or “do.”

Unfortunately, sometimes theウ sound is also understood to be the “w” sound as in “would” or “winter.” Actually. these “w” sounds do not exist in the Japanese language. It will take some extra training to learn how to move your mouth to pronounce this sound. You can do it!

oo

Above is a picture of pronouncing “ウ” or “oo,” that most of you know how to do.   Simply make a small circle with your lips when you are pronouncing the sound (find the full lesson here).

w

This picture, however, is more difficult to do. Try to focus on closing your lips a little more, and bringing them in closer to your teeth. Also, the “w” sound is not a whole syllable like the “ウ” sound, it is only the first part of a longer sound. So, say it quickly.

Try to pronounce these words without using the “ウ” sound:

Winter.
Weather.
Where.
Win.
Sweet.
Rewind.
When.
Why.
While.

Did it sound different from the “ウ” sound? If not, try again and listen to the lesson here. Keep trying until you get the sound you want, practice makes a better English speaker!

Connected Speech

connectedspeech

What is connected speech?

Simply put, connected speech is when a speaker puts words or sounds together in a sentence such as “gonna” (going to) or “wanna” (want to). Usually, this is not understood at all by the English learner!!

Have you ever heard something like “I’m gonna go ta tha store, do ya wanna come?” What does this mean??
When the native English speaker says things like this ^, it is usually just to make their speech easier and more efficient. In fact, the main goal of a native speaker is usually not to be correct, but to be efficient. So, when you are trying to speak perfectly, remember that even native speakers don’t always sound perfect! Elemental English discusses this topic here. 

So, let me explain the sentence “I’m gonna go ta tha store, do ya wanna come?”

Correctly written, it is “I am going to the store, do you want to come?”

“Going to” changes to “gonna,” “to the” changes to “ta tha,” “you” changes to “ya,” and “want to” changes to wanna.” Of course, this is not correct English and should never be in writing… However, if you want to better understand native speakers, I would recommend practicing listening for these connected words.

Below is a great example of connected speech in a scene from the classic movie “Remember the Titans.” Watch the video and see if you can understand what they’re saying. If it is difficult, try reading the text below and notice the connected speech. Does it make sense this time? Great!

Bertier: Aight man. Listen, I’m Gerry, you’re Julius. Let’s just get some particulars and get this over with, alright?

Big Ju: Particulars? Man, no matter what I tell you, you ain’t never gonna know nothin about me.

Bertier: Hey- Listen, I ain’t running any more of these three-a- days, okay?

Big Ju: Well, what I’ve got to say, you really don’t wanna hear ‘cuz honesty ain’t too high upon your people’s priorities list, right?

Bertier: Honesty? You want honesty? Alright, honestly, I think you’re nothing. Nothing but a pure waste of God-given talent. You don’t listen to nobody, man! Not even Doc or Boone! Shiver push on the line everytime and you blow right past ’em! Push ’em, pull ’em, do something! You run over everybody in this league, and everytime you do you leave one of your teammates hanging out to dry, me in particular!

Big Ju: Why should I give a hoot about you, huh? Or anybody else out there? You wanna talk about the ways you’re the captain?

Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: Captains supposed to be the leader, right? Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: You got a job?

Bertier: I have a job.

Big Ju: You been doing your job?

Bertier: I’ve been doing my job.

Big Ju: Then why don’t you tell your white buddies to block for Rev better? ‘Cause they have not blocked for him worth a blood nickel, and you know it! Nobody plays. Yourself included. I’m supposed to wear myself out for the team? What team? No, no, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna look out for myself and I’m gonn get mine.

Bertier: See man, that’s the worst attitude I ever heard. Big Ju: Attitude reflects leadership, captain.

Lets Learn aLL about *L’s*

How difficult was that sentence to say? If you are like most ESL learners, it wasn’t so easy. Below are some of my favorite resources on how to pronounce the English *L*.

Image

Start with this lesson from pronuncian.com. It will explain in detail the mechanics, or step-by-step movements, of how to move your mouth in the sound of an L.

Next- I have a really fun video to watch. This is Amy Walker, who is not an English teacher but a professional actress who has excellent accent skills. In this video she clearly explains how to practice the L sound, and also does a warm-up for the first minute or two. It may seem silly, but warm-ups and practice are the key to mastering English!

*NOW: go back and re-read this blog post using your L skills!!*
(the L’s are highlighted in bold)