Archive for the ‘Dialogues with audio’ Category

The Cobb, Lyme Regis, Dorset, England



Ildiko IELTS 10th June p200 - 201 advanced language practice 051

Who but the most callous could pass by unmoved by the sight of a poor stranded crab, pincers click-clacking “Help me, the tide’s going out sans moi!” Certainly not my darling little one.

Lyme Regis, on the Jurassic Coast, is about seven miles from my hometown, Axminster.
A picturesque seaside resort, bustling in summer, comatose in winter, it is renowned for its dinosaur fossils – you`ll have to look for `em, mind! – and the Victorian paleontologist Mary Anning.

A feature of the town is The Cobb (backdrop to the momentous Crab Incident), a curving stone jetty nestling a small marina replete with fishing boats. Having its share of fame in recent years, it featured in the film The French Lieutenant`s Woman and in an adaptation of Jane Austen`s Persuasion, in which the heroine slips and falls from the wall. But unlike Humpty Dumpty she survives, as does the dreary novel.

Categories: Dialogues with audio

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.

Conversation lessons

I am pleased to provide 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


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 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.




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.





Copyright (c) Maurice Taylor

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


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


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?



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)














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


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