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Archive for the ‘Dialogues with audio’ Category

Conditionals – mixing `em up

Imagine you`re in your runabout `68 E-type jaguar on the way to a pop concert with a friend. Things are running a little late so you decide to take a short cut but have to stop for a lorry which is blocking the road.
Your conversation (for the purposes of this exercise) may go like this:

1)Friend: If we`d left earlier, we`d be there by now.

2)You: Well if I`d known about this damn lorry, I wouldn`t have taken this route.

3)Friend: You know how it is, when we try a new route we always end up late.

4)You: Of course, if we had GPS, we wouldn`t be stuck behind this lorry now.

5) Bugger it, let`s go to the pub instead.

Sentence 1) mixes the third and second conditional forms. The `if clause` (if + subject + past perfect) is in the third conditional and expresses a situation which is contrary to reality in the past i.e. they didn`t leave earlier for the concert. The `subordinate clause` (subject + would/n`t + short infinitive) is in the second conditional and expresses the result of the `if` clause i.e.  a situation which is contrary to reality in the present i.e. they aren`t at the concert now.

Sentence 2) is entirely third conditional, the `if clause` (if + subject + past perfect) expressing an unreal past situation which in turn results in an unreal past effect in the `subordinate clause` (subject + would/n`t + past perfect) i.e. you didn`t know about the lorry so you didn`t take an alternative route.

Sentence 3) is zero conditional in form with verbs in both the `if` and `subordinate` clauses in the present tense. This conditional form is used to talk about things we perceive to be true in general e.g. when the summer sun dips low over the fields the swifts begin their audacious display, making those archaic red arrows look like so many laughable and idiotic toys.

Sentence 4) is a second conditional sentence, expressing a situation contrary to reality in the present and future. The fact of the situation is that they don`t possess GPS and consequently are stuck behind the lorry. In terms of form, the `if` clause uses the simple past and the `subordinate` clause uses would + short infinitive.

Sentence 5) The pragmatic solution.

Skype-based conversation lessons

I am pleased to provide Skype-based conversation lessons for upper-intermediate and advanced level students. I place an emphasis on improving your fluency by means of the discussion and analysis of news stories, business or medical articles, video clips and other on-line media .

So how does it work? Questions and discussion points relating  to a specific article, video clip, etc, are sent to you prior to each lesson. This helps to structure the lessons and deepen your engagement with them.

But conversation alone, though an aid to fluency,  is not sufficient to achieve the Holy Grail that is English proficiency so lessons also focus on vocabulary, idiomatic phrases, collocations, phrasal verbs, pronunciation, word/sentence stress and intonation (among other things), according to your needs.

As a native English teacher, I hope I will be able to answer any questions and stimulate your interest with regard to English cultural life and customs.

If you think you may be interested or have any queries I would be happy to help you.

Maurice Taylor

email: applegates.languages@googlemail.com

mobile: (Hungary) 0630 279 6803

‘Happiness is less a matter of pursuit than an appreciation of what you already have.’

Pronunciation. Linking words with sounds /w/, /y/, and /r/.

swan in the darkHi again. Here’s a quickie concerning the linking sounds /w/ as in window, /j/ as in yellow, and /r/ as in rabbit. Listen to each of the key words grow, me, be, more, go first in isolation, then in a sentence. Note how the key word and the word following it in each sentence are linked by an extra sound. Listen again and practise. Cheers!

 
Audio only http://youtu.be/BF7ehRKxj1o You`ll need to paste this link in to a new tab in order to listen to and read the post at the same time. 
 

1) Grow You have to grow/w/up fast in this day and age.

2) Me Me/j/ and Sarah had great fun on our holiday.

3) Be There`s no need to be/j/ angry.

4) More We need more/r/ investment in current projects.

5) Go It`s time to go/w/ and fetch the kids from school.

PS I presently live in Monor but expect to move back to Budapest in August/September 2013.

Copyright (c) 2013 Maurice Taylor

Improving pronunciation: linking /r/ sound in spoken English

Hi again. In spoken English, when a word finishing in r or re (e.g. for or are) is followed by a word starting with a vowel sound, an /r/ sound is added linking the two words (e.g. this present is for Anthony).

Read and listen to the following six examples and try practising the linking sounds. Each example is recorded three times – the first time slowly and without the linking /r/ sound.

audio: linking /r/ sound

1  Here in my room, it’s very quiet.

2 We’re Earthlings. Where are you from?

3 Are octupus native to these waters?

4 Far away, I heard the sea’s ebb and flow.

5 Fear is not a number, I’m afraid.

6 My dear Izzy, it’s a shame you were out when I dropped by yesterday.

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Reference: New English File Advanced, OUP, 2008

Copyright (c) 2010 Maurice Taylor

Polite requests – improving your intonation

 

Canada geese on the river Otter estuary, Devon, England

Just a quick blog this time to help you with your intonation. Read and listen to the following polite requests. Each request (examples 1 to 7) is recorded three times – the first time with ‘flat’ intonation, the second and third with ‘ordinary’ intonation. Notice how the ‘ordinary’ intonation in each request makes the speaker sound both friendlier and more interesting than the duller sounding ‘flat’  intonation. Try to copy the ‘ordinary’ intonation and rhythm of each example. Good luck!

 Audio – polite requests

1) Would you mind opening the window? It’s rather hot in here.

2) Could I sit here, please?

3) I wonder if you could help me out tomorrow morning? I’m moving house.

4) Would you like to see a movie tonight? Avatar is showing at The Odeon.

5) How about going to the beach this weekend? It’s going to be 35 degrees on Saturday.

6) It would be really helpful if you could stay on tonight – as you know, we have to finish the accounts audit.

7) Can you pass me the newspaper, please? I’m afraid I’ve hurt my back.

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Copyright (c) Maurice Taylor www.taylorenglish.wordpress.com

The Ponies of the Baskervilles – weather expressions

                                 Farmer Hugo Baskerville sets out to tend his ponies

If you have ever had an unfathomable urge to visit an inhospitable wilderness replete with treacherous bogs, changeable and often extreme weather conditions; then the moorland of Dartmoor, Devon, is the perfect place for you. For more than a hundred years the Baskerville family – despite such harsh conditions –  have succeeded in breeding prize-winning ponies there. Listen to an interview with Hugo Baskerville in which he talks about the weather conditions he has to deal with as a moorland farmer.

Audio: interview with Hugh Baskerville

1) Place the weather words/expressions he mentions into three categories:

a) hot/dry weather

b) cold/wet weather

c) mild weather

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2) According to the interview are these statements about Dartmoor’s weather conditions TRUE or FALSE?

a) Hugo Baskerville’s ponies have never died in winter

b) This year, there was more rain in February than usual

c) It is unsafe to walk on Dartmoor in winter unless you wear appropriate clothing

d) The ponies do not need extra water in June

e) Mr Baskerville enjoys winter more than summer on the moor

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3) In Hugh Baskerville’s opinion, which is:

a) the coldest month of the year?

b) the hottest month – over the last few years

c) his favourite season?

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Vocabulary

unfathomable – impossible to understand

urge – wish, desire

moorland – open land overgrown by grasses, heather, etc

inhospitable – unfriendly

treacherous – dangerous

replete – well filled, abundant

harsh – of the weather: difficult to bear

drizzle – fine, misty rain

torrential downpour – heavy rain falling in a short burst

bog – wet, spongy ground

cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey – extremely cold

sweltering – unpleasantly hot

scorching – of heat: so hot it makes things dry up

close – hot and stuffy weather

dehydration – state of losing water or body fluids

drought – a long period with no rainfall

shrivel up – become small and wrinkled, due to heat

clement – pleasantly mild weather

overcast – cloudy

gear – equipment, clothing

trough – feeding container for cattle, horses, etc

top up – fill a container when its level drops below the recommended level

fodder – farm animal feed

perish – die

a gonna – deceased (informal)

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Answers:

1 a) sweltering, heat wave, scorching, fire, drought, shrivel up, dehydration, close

    b) snow, cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey, chilly, Jack Frost, rain, drizzle, torrential downpour

    c) clement, cooler, overcast

2 a) true b) true c) true d) false e) he enjoys neither winter nor summer

3 a) February b) September c) Spring

Copyright (c) 2010 Maurice Taylor www.taylorenglish.wordpress.com

Steve and Mike’s mystery tour – ten expressions with GO

You’re going to hear a dialogue in which Steve and Mike talk about something – but what? Before you read the dialogue/listen to the audio:

1 a) Have a look at these words taken from the dialogue:

Mickey Mouse ears, shorts, competitors, sponsors.

Can you predict the situation in the dialogue? ( i.e. what are Steve and Mike doing?)

b) Read the first two sentences of the dialogue. What are Steve and Mike discussing?

1 Steve’s appearance, 2 football, 3 Mickey Mouse.

2 Before you read the dialogue, try matching the following words (1 to 6) from the dialogue with their meanings (a to f).

1 ridiculous 

2 knackered (informal) 

3 wuss (informal) 

4 after all 

5 that’s the spirit!

6 tough break

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a) cowardly or weak person

b) bad luck/misfortune

c) extremely tired

d) the right (i.e. brave) attitude

e) very silly

f) in spite of what’s been said

3 Now read the dialogue and listen to the audio. It contains ten expressions with GO ( in bold in the dialogue). Can you match them with their meanings below? e.g. 1) go with means h) suit or match

Audio – Steve and Mike

1 go with

2 it goes without saying  

3 go on 

4 go to great lengths 

5 have a go 

6 go back on your word                                                                                                                          

7 make a go of it 

8 on the go 

9 go off 

10 as far as it goes 

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a  continue                                                                                                                                                                               

b  break a promise                                                                                                                                 

c try an activity to see if you like it                                                                                                                              

d  leave                                                                                                                                                            

e  up to a point, but no further                                                                                                                              

f make a big effort      

g busy                                                                                                                                                            

h suit or match                                                                                                                         

i  do your best, even though you may fail                                                                                                                            

j it’s obvious                                                                                                                                                      

Dialogue:

Steve: Hey Mike, do you think my giant Mickey Mouse ears go with my pink shorts?

Mike: Well, it goes without saying you look absolutely ridiculous, but hey, we’re here to enjoy ourselves, not as serious competitors or anything like that.

Steve: True, but it feels pretty serious to me – I’m knackered already. I’m not sure I can go on for much longer.

Mike: Oh come on, don’t be such a wuss! We’ve both gone to great lengths to get to the big event – practising every weekend for the last six months, and well you know it. Besides, you were the one who suggested we should have a go this year, so you can’t go back on your word now.

Steve: Yeah, you’re right. After all, we’ve already completed ten miles – only sixteen miles three hundred and eighty-five yards to go!

Mike: That’s the spirit! We have to make a go of it if only for our sponsors – they’re depending on us to raise loads of money. Remember, it’s all in a good cause.

Steve: Right, and now I think about it, we’re always on the go with the business, so in a way this is a kind of break for us.

Mike: (wiping the sweat from his brow) Though right now, it feels like a pretty tough break, but I guess I’ll be proud as hell when it’s all over.

Steve: Talking of tough breaks, can I use your phone – I need to call my wife. I forgot to tell her I was going off for the weekend.

Mike: What! You’re crazy. Ok, just one call, but that’s as far as it goes.

Steve: Appreciated mate. So, be honest – do you really think my ears look cool?

Discuss with a friend:

a) What do you think is the main difference in attitude between Steve and Mike?

b) What reasons does Mike give to Steve to convince him to carry on?

c) How does Steve convince himself to continue?

d) Have you ever taken part in a marathon or charity event? What was it like? Talk to a friend about this – try using some of the expressions in the dialogue.

5 Role-play the dialogue with a friend, then compare your version with the audio. Alternatively, listen and try copying the pronunciation and intonation of particular sentences. Then try it again!

If you’ve really participated in a marathon I’d like to hear how you got on!

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Answers:

1  a) They’re taking part in a sponsored run b) Steve’s appearance

2  1) e   2) c  3) a  4) f   5) d  6) b

1) h   2) j   3) a  4) f   5) c  6) b  7) i   8) g   9) d  10) e

4 Talking points: positive v negative attitudes – looking on the bright side; time and energy spent on an activity – is it always worth it? 

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Copyright: Maurice Taylor www.taylorenglish.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Cat’s Whiskers interview, linking consonants and vowels

‘For every kid whose career goes stellar there’s another million that sink without trace’ (Nick Beatty)

Audio: Nick Beatty interview

Singer and songwriter in media darlings Cat’s Whiskers, Nick Beatty (31), reckons the three most important factors to make it in the music industry boil down to talent, determination and a lot of luck. 

‘Sure, you need to be in tune in with the zeitgeist, but ultimately, there’s no substitute for gigging, recording, and yes, talent,’ he says.

With his band’s current single ‘Swing it, dude” enjoying extensive airplay on Melody UK and chart success assured, it’s an ideal moment to catch up with Nick in an exclusive interview with Taylor-English.

TE: The future’s looking pretty rosy for you Nick, but I guess it hasn’t been a cakewalk.

Nick: You know, it’s been really hard work. Mick (guitars) and me put the band together in 2005; back then we were doing everything on a shoe string. For instance, we had a van to get us to gigs, but it was always breaking down and we were too hard up to fix it. Once, we even had to push it for miles to get to a gig way out in the sticks!

TE: Sounds tough.

Nick: It was. I guess we’ve all had to turn our hands to different things over the years. For instance, Courtney (drums) is great at fixing mechanical stuff. Once, she suddenly whipped off her tights and fixed the fan belt just like that, I mean, right off the cuff. Of course, we took it to a garage later, but she really saved the day – and the gig. And Dave (bass), is the computer whizz – he’s the one who set up the website.

TE: I didn’t know you have a website.

Nick: Well, the cat’s out of the bag now!

TE: So you’ve all had to be resourceful; I hope you’ve  had some fun along the way too.

Nick: Sure, it wasn’t only sweat and blood and playing gigs to three drunks and a dog on a two metre stage next to the loo. At a lot of gigs in the early days, there was hardly room to swing a cat! At one gig, the landlord refused to turn down the sound system, so we set off the fire alarms afterwards.

TE: Cool.

Nick: Yeah. The fire brigade and police showed up ten minutes later. That really set the cat among the pigeons! But you know the best thing is those rare moments when you feel you’re connecting with the crowd, the emotional buzz – that’s so good.

TE: It’s been two years since your last album, but I hear you’ve just finished your new one.

Nick: Sure, Tobe McAvity at Aristo is doing post production on it, but yeah, it’s basically finished. It’s been a labour of love but we’re really excited about it. It’s a new departure for us – more heavy beats and dub stuff than on our last album, and the songs are our best yet. We’re keeping our fingers crossed our fans like them.

TE: I’m sure they’ll lap it up. So you’re a happy man, then.

Nick: Of course. In my mind’s eye this is what I’ve always wanted, not so much the fame and glory, but simply recognition for all our creativity and hard work.

TE: It really sounds like the cat’s whiskers.

Nick: It is, really!

TE: Well, thanks for taking time off to come in today.

Nick: Thank you.

Listen to this sentence from the first paragraph of the interview:

Nick Beatty reckons the three most important factors to make it in the music industry boil down to talent, determination and a lot of luck. 

What do you notice about the sound of the word pairs in bold? You’ve got it – you should notice the word pairs become linked; the rule here is that if a word ends with a consonant sound and is followed by a word starting with a vowel sound, then the two sounds are linked. Listen again, and this time read out the sentence aloud too, paying special attention to the linking sounds. Look for more consonant-vowel word linking in sentences from the interview/audio e.g. the cat’s out of the bag now. Again, try repeating these sentences aloud, paying attention to the linking sounds. Good luck!

Sink without trace vanish

Make it be financially successful

Gig band performance at a pub, small venue

A cakewalk an easy task, endeavour

On a shoe string with little money and resources

In the sticks in the countryside

Turn your hand (to an activity) do a practical task without difficulty

Off the cuff improvise

Save the day resolve a problem

The cat’s out of the bag the secret is out

No room to swing a cat an idiom to describe a small space

Set the cat among the pigeons create trouble

Lap it up find something irresistible

In my mind’s eye in my imagination

The cat’s whiskers the best thing, the cream on the cake

Copyright: Maurice Taylor www.taylorenglish.wordpress.com

Two blokes in a pub – idioms and contractions

Hi. Today I’d like to consider the pronunciation, intonation and meaning of a few (mostly informal) idioms that you, as a visitor, are likely to hear in the south of England. I’ll also look at the pronunciation and intonation of some contracted forms (which are common in spoken English) e.g. she could have waited for us changes to she could’ve waited for us or he is changes to he’s, etc.

Here’s a conversation I overheard a few months ago in an Exeter pub between two office employees. For convenience, I’ll call them James and Tom. You can listen to the dialogue and even try copying (aloud) the pronunciation and intonation of some of these idioms and contracted forms.

Dialogue: two blokes in a pub

2 blokes in a pub – dialogue

James It seems Dave’s off to pastures new, then.

Tom Yeah, he’s handed in his notice already, lucky bloke.

James I thought he might’ve stayed a bit longer – now he’s going to miss the Christmas bash. Any idea why he’s leaving?

Tom Beats me, he had a good position but let’s face it, he and his lordship didn’t always get on like a house on fire.

James Blimey, you can say that again! Remember that slanging match they had over the Jenkins’ account?

Tom Yeah, that was so bonkers I nearly fell off my chair!

James (to the bar lady) Another pint here, please.

Bar lady Of course, my love.

James (pays and takes his pint) Cheers.

Tom Look James, I can put in a good word for you, if you like.

James Thanks, but no thanks. Account management just isn’t my game. I’ve got the experience – I could do it, but the thing is, at least I can have a laugh in marketing.

Tom Fair enough, but the pay’s rubbish.

James True, it could be better, but I think working in accounts would do my head in – it’s so boring.

Tom Oh, I forgot mate. Sales and marketing is the fast lane – watch out Lewis Hamilton!

James Funny. Anyway, here’s to Dave Atkins (they raise their pint glasses). Shame he can’t join us.

Tom He’s probably working through his lunch break.

James Yeah, now he’s giving us the heave-ho, suddenly he’s Mr Conscientious.

Tom Bless.

                         Idioms

Bloke man (informal)

Off to pastures new leaving a job for another one

Hand in your notice give formal notice (in a letter) that you’re leaving your job

The Christmas bash the Christmas office party

Beats me I don’t know

His lordship the boss (humorous)

Get on like a house on fire get on very well with someone

Blimey! exclamation of surprise (humorous)

Slanging match angry and heated argument

Bonkers crazy (humorous)

My love a friendly idiom similar to ‘my dear’. Typically, a shopkeeper, bar lady, etc, would say it to a customer 

Cheers thanks (of course it’s also used to toast someone or something)

Put in a good word for you when someone recommends you for a job, etc.

Do my head in annoy, upset (informal, humorous)

Give someone the heave-ho leave a job, club, etc

Bless ironic term of endearment similar to ‘dear fellow’

Copyright: Maurice Taylor www.taylorenglish.wordpress.com

 

 

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