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Lesson 28: The Lost ‘R’ (Non-Rhotic English)

Listen to today’s less on ‘non-rhotic’ /r/

Note: Many English words have a letter /r/ in their spelling that is not pronounced in the standard British English accent. This is because Standard British English is non-rhotic. This means that /r/ is dropped when it follows the final vowel in a word. Some examples of words with no /r/ sound are: car, better, turn and world. 

Why are these words spelt with a letter ‘r’ if no /r/ sound is pronounced in them? The reason is because the pronunciation of the English language is constantly evolving and accents change across the generations. We used to pronounce the /r/ in these words, but now we don’t. The /r/ sound first began being lost in some English words back in the 15thcentury. Slowly, as the centuries passed, /r/ became softened and was gradually dropped from more and more words. 

In 1780 the actor and elocution teacher Thomas Sheridan stated that /r/ ‘always has the same sound and is never silent’. However, his assertion isn’t backed up by the evidence. Linguists know for a fact that /r/ was being increasingly dropped in the late 18thcentury; they can tell by tracing /r/-less spellings in documents from that time. What Thomas Sheridan had probably meant, speaking as an elocution teacher, was that he thought /r/ ought not to be dropped. 

The loss of rhoticity from the standard British English accent was unstoppable, however. By the early 1800s the southern English accent had fully transformed into a non-rhotic accent. This accent eventually became known as R.P. ‘Received Pronunciation.’

Whether a variety of English or a specific accent is rhotic or non-rhotic is one of the biggest distinctions that can be made in English.

Non-Rhotic English Examples:

Standard British English, Welsh English, Australian English, New Zealand English, South African English

Rhotic English Exampes:

General American, Scottish English, Irish English, Canadian English

English Rhotic Accents Examples:

Manchester, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, the West Country

The pronunciation of /r/ following the final vowel in a word does not occur in the standard English accent. Therefore, knowing when not to pronounce /r/makes a big difference to the overall quality of your English accent. When you get this right, it’s as if you’re wearing an accent tuxedo and everyone else is wearing an accent tracksuit. 

Practice this lesson so that you commit these /r/-less words to memory. And if you’re a subscriber to English Jade, make sure you follow along with the lesson pdf.  This will be useful to you so you can see the IPA transcription of each /r/-less word example.


Practice Non-Rhotic English

supermarket

birthday

curtains

word

world

service

heart

search

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson 27: Silent L

Listen to Today’s Lesson on Silent L

Lesson 27 of English Jade teaches you the pronunciation of silent /l/ words in English (this lesson is part 3 of 3 lessons practising the pronunciation of ‘l’). Some English words are tricky because they are spelt with a letter L but include no /l/ sound in them. Non-native speakers often aren’t aware of silent /l/ words, which leads to mispronunciations. In this lesson you will practice silent /l/ words and other commonly mispronounced words with /l/. Note: This speaking skills training to practice silent /l/ is for high-level professionals. Follow this training to improve your pronunciation, accent and clear speech.

Lesson Part One on Learning Dark L: CLICK HERE

Lesson Part Two Light L and Dark L: CLICK HERE


Silent L Example Words:

half

almond

walk

yolk

chalk

should

colonel (the first ‘l’ is the silent one)


Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Natural Native Speaker Pronunciation

Ask questions quickly like a native speaker by learning natural pronunciation. When native speakers of English speak fast, the clear boundaries between words disappear and this is what gives the impression of talking fast. In reality, native speakers are not talking faster than normal — it’s just that the sounds in their pronunciation flow together in the most smooth and efficient way. For this natural, flowing effect to happen in pronunciation there are three important changes in pronunciation that may occur. The first change is that whole sounds in the sentence may disappear completely (“elision”). The second change in pronunciation is that for the sounds to flow more smoothly, individual sounds may shift to a different sound (“assimilation”). And finally, new sounds that are not in the individual words themselves may appear when the sentence is spoken quickly (“intrusion”). No need to worry if that makes learning natural pronunciation seem very complicated; I break everything down for you in this lesson. All you need to do is follow the lesson and repeat after me. I’ll also teach you some IPA (the International Phonetic Alphabet) so that you can recognise the individual sounds of English more easily. For a lot more information on sounding like a native speaker and improving your accent, take my accent course:

Note: There is a mistake on the board in this lesson. I mixed up the /aɪ/ phoneme with the /I:/ vowel. ‘Do you like it?’ should be written:

Do-you lie-kit = /də.ju: laɪ.kɪt/

Jew-lie-kit= /ʤuː laɪ.kɪt/

Lesson Twenty-Six: Light L and Dark L (Part Two)

Listen to Today’s Lesson

Lesson 26 of English Jade teaches you the pronunciation of light /l/ and dark /l/ in English (this lesson is part two of three on this topic). Getting the pronunciation of dark /l/ right leads to a clear, native-speaker level English accent. In this lesson you will practice the dark /l/ and light /l/ in example words and phrases. Note: This speaking skills training to practice dark /l/ is for high-level professionals.


In the previous lesson, I explained how to pronounce light /l/ and dark /l/. We also learned two basic pronunciation rules:

  1. A word that begins with an /l/ has light /l/ pronunciation: ‘like’, ‘love’ and ‘lips’
  2. A word that ends with an /l/ sound has dark /l/ pronunciation: ‘bell’, ‘goal’ and ‘mail’

But what about when the /l/ sound isn’t at the beginning or the end of a word? Which /l/ sound should we pronounce then? The pronunciation rules for this are: 

  1. Light /l/ always goes before the vowel in the syllable
  2. Dark /l/ always follows the vowel in the syllable

This sounds easy enough, but in practice, these pronunciation rules are almost impossible to apply. This is because we often don’t know where the syllables in a word naturally break. We need to look up the IPA transcription of a word in a dictionary to know where the syllables break. Of course, when we are speaking in real-life, we don’t have a dictionary to refer to. Instead, native speakers intuitively break up a word into syllables where it ‘feels right’. This leads to variation in the pronunciation of words. 

The words in this lesson are grouped according to spelling patterns. You will see that even words with the same spelling pattern at times have a different /l/ pronunciation. This is infuriating and random – but unfortunately, my friend, that’s the English language for you. The pronunciation and spelling of English has a lot of irregularities.

Here are a few example dark L words taken from the lesson…


Light L Examples:

claim

clothes

flood

glorious

pleasant

Dark L Examples:

child

world

difficult

elf

album

Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

High Quality Speaker… Are You Ready?

In this podcast episode I talk about making yourself into a high quality speaker and the benefits it brings to your life. Ask yourself this important question: Have you developed your speaking skills to the optimum level that will bring you success in life?


Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

Lesson Twenty Five: Dark L (Part One)

Lesson 25 of English Jade teaches you the pronunciation of the dark /l/ sound in English. This lesson is part one of three lessons on the pronunciation of /l/. In this lesson you will practice the dark /l/ sound in example words and phrases. Click the player at the bottom of the page to listen to this podcast lesson.


There are two pronunciations of /l/ in English. The first pronunciation of /l/ is the easy one which you will already recognise in words like ‘love’, ‘like’ and ‘lips’. This is the light /l/, which is always found before a vowel. Words that begin with an /l/ always begin with light /l/ pronunciation. We make the light /l/ sound by making a light touch with the tip of the tongue on the alveolar ridge (the hard part just behind the teeth). The back of the tongue is in a neutral position, neither high nor low.

The second pronunciation of /l/, the dark /l/, is the one you may not have heard about before. The dark /l/ pronunciation has a lower pitch and takes more effort with the tongue to pronounce. Listen to these two examples:

love and light = light /l/
small hotel = dark /l/

When I make a dark /l/ sound, the back of my tongue raises up towards the back of the palate. The position of the back of the tongue here is close to where it is when pronouncing the ‘long u’ /u:/ vowel. When I make the dark /l/ sound, my tongue tip stays in same forward alveolar ridge position as it does for light /l/. As my tongue pulls back, it cleanly and clearly ends the dark /l/ sound.

How I experience the difference in pronunciation is that the dark /l/ requires much more physical effort to pronounce than light /l/. When I pronounce the dark /l/ clearly, I cannot move on quickly to link up to the next sound. It’s as if there is a tiny pause before my tongue can move to the next sound.

Learning to pronounce light /l/ and dark /l/ is not that difficult because there are two simple rules:

1. All words beginning with /l/ have light /l/ pronunciation
2. All words ending in /l/ end with dark /l/ pronunciation

However, confusion arises when the /l/ sound is in the medial (middle) position of a word. We will look at examples of medial /l/ in lesson two on this subject.

In the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) light /l/ and dark /l/ are classed as the same sound/phoneme, even though to most of us listening, they sound different. The reason for this is to keep things simple. If we didn’t do this, we would have too many letters in the alphabet and too many symbols in the IPA to learn. The difference between light /l/ and dark /l/ is small because there is only a slight difference in articulation between them. Therefore, light /l/ and dark /l/ are ‘close enough’ to be classed as the same sound in the IPA. Close enough is good enough.

Standard dictionaries use the same IPA symbol for light /l/ and dark /l/. This is not helpful when we are confused about the proper pronunciation of the /l/ sound as we won’t find the answer in the dictionary. If the dictionary doesn’t distinguish between light /l/ and dark /l/ in a word’s transcription, clearly, how you pronounce /l/ is a small detail. I’m only teaching you this because I know many of my English Jade subscribers are perfectionists who want their pronunciation to be exactly right. If you find the pronunciation of light /l/ and dark /l/ too difficult, don’t worry; most people probably won’t even notice.

Here are a few example dark L words taken from the lesson:


novel

fulfil

whirlpool

casual

skill

squall

smuggle

alcoholic


Get the full lesson notes and recordings by becoming a subscriber to English Jade. CLICK HERE.

English Jade Lesson Twenty Two: Schwa Weak Forms

Many words in English have two pronunciations. There is a stressed form of the word and an unstressed form of the word which is called the ‘weak form’. For example, the word ‘your’ is pronounced as /jɔː/ (stressed form) and as /jə/ (weak form).

Weak forms are often hard to hear in the sentence and it may seem as if the sound is ‘swallowed’. Native speakers use weak forms all the time in their natural speech, which makes them harder to understand than non-native speakers. Weak forms are also the reason native speakers appear to be speaking quickly, when in fact, often they are speaking at a normal tempo.

By learning the weak forms of words and then using them you can greatly improve the overall rhythm and flow of your speech in English.

Click the audio player link below to listen to this podcast lesson on how to pronounce the schwa weak forms. Here are a few example words taken from the lesson:


cat in a hat = /ˈkæ.tɪ.nə hæt/

Does he know him? = /ˈdʌz.i nəʊ hɪm/

Lend us some money = /ˈlen.dəs sʌm ˈmʌ.ni/

Do you sound weak? Language Examples…

Do you sound weak? In this video, I give you examples of unconfident speaking styles. These are expressions people use when lacking in confidence about themselves and their opinions. We will be looking at indirect language: speaking with disclaimers, evading opinions, making oneself small, being doubtful of oneself, and being afraid to speak one’s mind. While it is sometimes necessary to communicate in an indirect way for the sake of politeness, it’s important to know how to speak in a more confident way too. When you communicate in a confident way, you are able to lead other people and to make a good impression. Learn about unconfident speaking styles in order to stop sounding weak!

Introduction to the IPA and vowel sound training

I will teach you four phonemes from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). You will learn /e/ as in pet, schwa /ə/ as in to (unstressed), /ɜː/ as in bird, and /ɔː/ as in court. This lesson is for beginners who are unfamiliar with IPA (the individual sounds of English). Learn the IPA vowel symbols to greatly improve your pronunciation. This lesson is also for more advanced students who are already familiar with the sounds of English and their IPA phonetic symbols, and who wish to refresh their knowledge as a result of doing some practical pronunciation practice. Do these exercises for some time and you WILL hear a difference.

Toxic Language Examples

Toxic language is a way of communicating that harms other people. The lesson is based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg, who educated people to express their needs in a compassionate way in order to avoid ‘violent communication’. I will teach you common examples of violent communication, such as threatening, blaming, labelling, diagnosing, and guilt tripping. Many of us often do some or all of these to others without realising. By learning to avoid violent communication, we are able to express our personal needs more effectively and our relationships with others can improve.

Get Rid of Your Accent — Good Idea?

In these politically correct times in which we live, the ‘experts’ out there on YouTube say that you should not get rid of your accent. These teachers are the same ones who make their lessons for the mass global audience: it’s all very low level, easy stuff. Moron level. The most you ever get with them is ‘4 Amazing Phrasal Verbs You Need to Know’.

These teachers are being politically correct when they talk about accent. I’m not sure if they actually believe what they say, but that’s what they say because it’s the ‘acceptable’ opinion to have. It’s all very friendly and smiley and appeals to their low level mass audience who only want to feel good about themselves. When their teacher tells them comforting words like this, it gives them an excuse not to bother.

YouTube didn’t work out very well for me. Might be because I’m POLITICALLY INCORRECT. I didn’t have ‘the right’ opinions about things. It caused a lot of backlash.

Here’s what I think about your accent:

When it comes to YOUR accent, it’s necessary to separate yourself from the herd.

Most non-native speakers are never going to get rid of their accent because they are too lazy and have no focus. Even if they wanted to improve their accent, it won’t happen for them.

Most non-native speakers don’t NEED to get rid of their accent. This is because they rarely use English. What’s the point of having a native speaker level accent if you have no contact with native speakers? None, really.

But for those people who live and work in the UK, telling them not to bother about their accent is plain bad advice. Okay, if you pick fruit in a field and only work with other foreigners, you can struggle on without having a decent accent. But that is where you will stay: in minimum wage, temporary work for the rest of your life. With a dodgy accent.

Even professionals with high level skills are not immune to the problems caused by having a dodgy accent. The main one being that it seriously undermines you at work. No matter how great the standard of your work is, you’ll be undermined on a daily basis by the way that you speak. Again, like the fruit pickers, you can probably get by here in the UK; you can struggle on speaking badly. Everyone’s politically correct here, so don’t worry, the weakness of your accent will never be directly pointed out to you by your managers or even brought up at job interviews.

This can allow you to go on living in the illusion that the way you speak isn’t important. It’s a comfortable illusion, but it’s also one that’s hard to maintain. If/when you ever have a problem at work — you will remember once again about the weakness of your accent. That’s because you know, deep down, that the way you speak isn’t yet good enough for the work that you do. It’s only natural to feel vulnerable when you know that you’re the weak link. If you don’t do something about it, this vulnerability will haunt you forever.

I don’t advise the mass global audience to get rid of their accent; like I said it’s impossible and not worth it for them anyhow. But for professionals, another, much higher standard is required of them. This standard is to speak clearly and naturally.

 

 

 

Pronunciation: London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and More…

Learn how to pronounce the names of the top 10 biggest cities in Britain. Avoid the embarrassment of saying the name of a famous place incorrectly — listen and learn how a person from London says the names of these places. I will also teach you and use some IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), so that you can get the exact pronunciation. I’ll teach you how to pronounce London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow, Southampton, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield. No more mistakes!

Building Your Foundation

There is a necessary foundation that you need to build in order to be able to speak well. So many people (native speakers AND second language speakers of English) are missing this foundation because they were never taught properly or supported. In this episode of English Jade I reveal the foundation you need to become a good speaker. Warning: It’s not what you expect! And don’t worry, even if you lack this foundation, I’m going to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.


Start building your foundation: Sign up to get the first 4 lessons of English Jade: CLICK HERE.

All the Uses of ‘From’

‘FROM’ is such a small, common word in English, but it has so many different uses. Watch this to make sure you don’t get your prepositions mixed up.

Is Your Voice Toxic? And What to Do About It…

Toxic voices are extremely common. When a voice is toxic, it is draining to hear or listen to. The draining influence of a toxic voice affects all people within earshot by creating tension and spreading a low mood. However, only sensitive people can directly feel the icky, draining quality of the toxic voice in the moment that it is speaking.

Sensitives are best advised to avoid or disengage from conversations with people who have toxic voices. When sensitives have good boundaries, this happens naturally, as the sensitive will not want to engage in any kind of prolonged conversation with the toxic voice. Or, if they must interact occasionally, for example because the person with the toxic voice is a relative or colleague, then the sensitive learns to disengage from ‘draining conversations,’ which only encourage the person with the toxic voice to offload on them and to drain.

When I’m out in the real world, for example in a coffee shop, and I encounter a draining voice, my attitude towards that person is reserved. The reason for this is to keep my distance and to prevent any sense of familiarity from building up between us. While toxic voices cannot be avoided out in the real world, it is possible to prevent such a person from seeking out your attention in possible future encounters. The last thing you want to do is to give the draining voice your full attention. However, if the draining voice belongs to someone you care about, you may DECIDE to give them attention from time to time as a form of love. But this kind of sacrifice is not owed to strangers.

All voices are draining sometimes. However, a toxic voice is always draining.

All people are negative sometimes. Whereas, a toxic voice is negative about everything all the time.

It is not possible to change someone you know if you identify him or her as having a toxic voice. However, it is possible to detoxify your own voice. This comes down to cleansing yourself from negativity and detoxifying yourself. Note: I’m not advocating that you pretend to live in a ‘positive bubble’, merely that you find a healthy balance in which you can see the good in life, as well as the bad.


Here follow some practical things you can do to detoxify yourself and your voice:

  • Take a break from any kind of news (30 days is a good starting point)
  • Take a course of detoxifying supplements
  • Take supplements for candida and reduce sugars and processed foods in your diet
  • Take a nightly bath and scrub your skin. Soak long enough until the top layer of your skin rubs off
  • Don’t give in to the lure of toxic conversations: disengage, avoid, or label it a ‘draining conversation’. Only when you are healthier and your energy is better can you handle a little negativity now and then.
  • Leave social media
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Walk in nature, especially in forests or woods
  • Train yourself to notice and appreciate the small, beautiful things or moments in everyday life. For example, the sight of a cute baby. These things are your food.
  • End friendships or slowly detach from spending time with people who moan and complain all the time
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself and take action