Vote Ronald Grump and Make American Great Again

Vote Ronald Grump and Make American Great Again

It’s election season in the United States and Ronald Grump is running for President. In this parody video, a puppet Donald Trump outlines his plans to make American (rather than America)  great again.

Update: We made this video before Donald Trump was elected. At the time we thought the chances of him winning were scary but very slim. Oh how wrong we were!

You might also enjoy these videos:

Talking taxes with Donald Trump

A phone call with President Obama

Ladies and gentlemen. Please welcome the next President of the United States, Ronald Grump.

If I’m elected President of the United States, I, Ronald Grump, will make you a preposition.
I’ve loved English. All the words. You’ve got the nouns, you’ve got the adverbs, you’ve got the adjectives, you’ve got clauses. Let me tell you something. My English will be the best English.
Some people, let’s be honest, they’re losers. Their adjectives are losers. When they send us their adjectives, they’re not sending us their best. If I am elected, we will have no more bad adjectives. If you pick Ronald Grump to represent your grammar, we will make America’s adjectives great again.
Listen, listen. I’m from here. I’m a New Yorker through and through. But let me just tell you something. Here’s the thing. The situation with these foreign languages now, it’s unbelievable. It’s out of control. I was here when foreign languages came in and they celebrated when we lost infinitives. They split our infinitives, our infinitives right here, in our own country, and they were completely split. And what did the foreign grammars do? They were dancing in the streets. I saw it with my own eyes. It was awful. Unbelievable. There will be no more foreign grammars until we figure out what the heck is going on.
Conjunctions, let me tell you. You have a dependent clause over here. You have a subordinate clause over there. It’s crazy. It’s out of control. There’s no unity. America’s not great any more. We’re gonna make America great. This is how we’re gonna do it. Are you ready? I am gonna build a conjunction. A conjunction between the clauses. It’s gonna be the biggest, the best. It’s gonna be a beautiful conjunction. It’s gonna be one of the most beautiful conjunctions you’ve ever seen. And what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna make the clauses pay for it.
Simple English Videos. I love them. I’ve always loved them. They’re great people. You’re gonna love them. They’re unbelievable. Simple English Videos dot com. You should subscribe. Subscribe. Everybody should subscribe. Has anybody here not subscribed yet? That’s right. Get ‘em out! Get ‘em out!. Get ‘em out. Everybody out! Simple English Videos.

You might also enjoy these videos:

Talking taxes with Donald Trump

A phone call with President Obama

sentimental journey

Sentimental Journey by Doris Day – Lyrics Explained

Songs are a great way to learn English. They’re good listening practice and research shows that singing along is a powerful way to improve your fluency and learn new words. Here’s a beautiful song sung by Doris Day and a lesson on some of the vocabulary first.

There are two videos here so make sure you scroll down for the song.

Click here to see other great songs for learning English.

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
What are you doing?
I’m warming up for the song.
What song?
Today’s lesson is about a song. Remember?
Oh, that’s been cancelled.
Oh.
You can go home now.
Really?
Yeah, we don’t need you.
Oh.

This week’s lesson comes in the form of a song, and the wonderful Doris Day is the singer. The song is about a journey – a sentimental journey. Sentimental? It means it touches her heart. So it’s a journey she’s taking for emotional rather than practical reasons.
Perhaps there’s a time or place in your life that you feel sentimental about too?
Maybe it’s somewhere you yearn to return to.
Or maybe there’s someone you long to see again.
‘Yearn’ and ‘long’ are both verbs here, and they have very similar meanings.
We use them to talk about things we desire or want very much.
We use ‘yearn’ when it’s somethings that difficult or impossible to do.
And we use ‘long’ when it’s something that won’t happen soon.
You’ll also hear this word in the song. This word doesn’t exist in English.
It’s not a real word. The song writer made it up and I think it’s my favourite word in the song.
So listen to the song and tell me what your favourite words are.
And I have a question too. What sentimental journey would you like to take if you could. Is there a place or a time in your life that you’d like to revisit?
Tell us in the comments.

But I thought the song was cancelled.
No. Doris Day is singing it.

Click here to learn how to use the words travel, trip and journey.
Click here to see more great songs for learning English.

accent

How to Learn a New Accent – Tips from an Impressionist

Learn how to improve your pronunciation, work on your English accent and become more intelligible with great tips from impressionist Akeem Lawanson, the hilarious creator of the AtomicHole YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/AtomIcHole
As well as improving your accent, you’ll also learn how to talk like Kermit the Frog, or any other celebrity or cartoon voices that tickle your fancy.

In this video, we’re going to learn how an impressionist copies voices. And discover how you can take your spoken English to a new level.
Today I’m here with Akeem. And Akeem has a YouTube channel in which he does impressions and comedy. What’s it called Akeem?
Uh, so the name of my channel is AtomicHole. Um, yeah, as you said Vicki, it’s a place where I pretty much do a lot of voiceover work and impressions.
So you are the perfect person to tell me about what you need to do to make yourself sound like someone else.
Absolutely, yeah, but first we should figure out who you want to sound like.
I want to sound like Kermit The Frog.
Ok, Kermit, heh heh heh heh, Kermit the… Kermit the frog. Of all the frogs in the world you chose Kermit.
I did.
OK. That’s perfect, perfect choice.
Um, so, in order to do Kermit you have to think like Kermit. OK. All right? Think green. That’s the first step. Uh huh. Thinking green.
OK, so I think of recyclable bottles.
OK.
Or, I think of Go!
Go is good. Go is good. Go is good when it comes to doing voices …Go… is what you want to think of. Just go for it. It’s green. Green means go.
Ok, that’s really useful advice when you’re learning to speak another language as well. You’ve got to go for it. And just try it. Absolutely, yeah. So, now that we’re thinking go, yup, all right, we’re just gonna do it. It doesn’t matter if you sound exactly like the character or not. All right, so in order to do it… what is something that Kermit the frog says often?
‘Miss Piggy.’
Well, he has said that numerous times, yes, um but one of the things that he kind of opens up like The Muppet Show with uh, is ‘Hi ho, Kermit the frog here.’ OK. So, taking a phrase from the character that you want to do an impression of, yeah, and repeating it. Excellent.
OK um, ‘Hi ho Kermit the frog here.’
OK Vicki, I’ll demonstrate before you just ‘go-for-it.’ Ok, so you can know exactly the pitch we’re going for here.
That’s another bit of useful advice, actually, which is to wait until you have an example and a good teacher.
Absolutely, I definitely agree 100 percent. Uh Ok, so, so, Kermit… so this is how you do it. So it’s ‘Hi ho, Kermit the frog here’.
Ok ‘Hi ho, Kermit the frog here.’
Close. Close, very close. Hi ho, Kermit the frog here. If you, if you listen to the voice you notice, you know, Kermit has a sort of.. uh, uh a certain inflection in his voice and he pauses at certain… he has a pace, a pacing, a certain pace to his voice… Yeah. …uh, that’s just very unique to him. You know, he talks like this. It’s very weird like no one really talks like this. It’s uh, uh I don’t know. I’ve never met anyone that talks like this. So it’s listen to the rhythm. Exactly, yes, the rhythm of his voice, um and the cadence as well, is what you really want to pay attention to when you’re actually going for an impression.
Yeah.
So let’s, so let’s try it again.
‘Hi ho Kermit the frog here.’ ‘Hi ho, Kermit the frog here’
Ok, that’s… I think we’re getting there. I think with a little bit more practice, I think we can actually get there. Um and so after that, so after you’ve practiced, you know, this line that… from this particular person, this, you know, celebrity, cartoon character, what… whomever it is, what you want to do is … one of the things that I do after I’ve, you know, driven everyone around me insane by repeating the same thing over and over again, is I try to just talk. Ok. You know , just talk regularly.
But that is another piece of really good advice, actually, for when you’re learning a language, which is to keep saying things over and over again. Just the same thing.
Absolutely. And getting it.
And particularly actually, with pronunciation. You’ll find that the way your mouth has to move or the.. the rhythm or… or the intonation that you’re using for one thing is going to transfer to another thing later.
Definitely. Absolutely. It definitely will. Uh, so now that we know how to do it, so we’re just going to talk like, uh, Kermit uh, just regularly. I think for the rest of this interview we should talk like Kermit. What do you think?
I will certainly try to do that.
Ok, I think we won’t, no, we gotta scratch that right now. But yeah so, it … sorry I even brought that up. We’ve had lots of good advice for language learning coming up here, ’cause some of the things that are going on..
Yeah, there’s…there’s…yeah I can see, I can see the correlation between the two, absolutely. Um, and I encourage, your viewers, Vicki, to go out there. If you guys… if there is a voice that you really want to do, just do it. No hesitation at all. And take the same attitude to speaking English. Just do it. Go for it.
I love the ‘go-is-green’ think. Um, and also, another thing to do is to go and make sure you see Akeem’s channel. You don’t want to miss it. Tell us again. Where is it?
It’s YouTube.com/AtomicHole. Uh that’s my channel. Uh if you enjoy various voices that are unique to other people, uh, my channel is the place to go. So you will get lots of Kermit the frog , he’s there , he’s you know, covering songs and what not, and we’ve got, heh, we’ve got uh Fred Flintstone, some of you guys might know him. Oh yes, we’ve got Peter Griffen there, You know he talks like this out of the side of his mouth.
So check the links below and I’ll probably put one on this video as well. And thank you so much Akeem. Thank you, Vicki. I appreciate it.

So what did we learn that you can use?
First – Go for it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right at first or not.

Just do it. No hesitation at all.

Second – You need a good example phrase – a model you can copy.

What is something that Kermit the frog says often?

So choose a phrase that native speakers often say. You’ll find lots of examples in my videos, so make sure you subscribe to my channel.
OK Step Three – Pay special attention to the pace, the pauses, and also the intonation.

So it’s listen to the rhythm
Exactly. The rhythm of his voice. And the cadence as well is what you actually want to listen to when you’re going for an impression.

Step Four is essential. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Drive everyone around you crazy by saying it again and again.

One of the things I do after I’ve driven everyone around me insane by repeating the same phrase over and over again is I try to just talk.

And that’s the wonderful thing about practice like this. It helps you just talk. The effort you put into getting one phrase right transfers over to other things you want to say.
Oh, and something else. Listening and pronunciation go together, so you’ll find working on your pronunciation like this will improve your listening too.
So I hope you’ve enjoyed the video and come back soon because we have more videos on pronunciation and lots of other things in the works. Bye now.

See more of Akeem’s videos here:https://www.youtube.com/user/AtomIcHole
And to see Vicki in one of Akeem’s videos, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-VmBzbvbJI
Click here to see more videos on English pronunciation.

What's your opinion

Formal ways to ask for opinions – An English Conversation

This short conversation illustrates two formal questions we use to ask for opinions in English. English learners sometimes ask ‘What’s your opinion?’ without realizing that it is a formal way to ask the question. ‘What do you think?’ is more common and would sound more natural most of the time. Note that in the video, ‘What’s your opinion?’ is used in a very formal context.

What’s your opinion script

Welcome to Education Today. And tonight’s question is should schools give tablets to students? Where do you stand on that, Mrs Fagan?
Oh they must!
And what’s your opinion, Mrs Hollett?
Absolutely not!
And there you have it. Two perspectives on whether schools should give tablets to students.

Click here for videos on how to manage discussions in business meetings

Click here for more English conversations for speaking practice.

American baseball idioms

American Baseball Idioms (See examples in action)

If you need to understand Americans, it really helps to understand baseball idioms. They often come up in conversation.

We use many of these idioms in British English too, but not all. Watch these videos to learn their meanings and see lots of examples.

There are four baseball idiom videos here, so keep scrolling down to watch them all. They’ll help you hit it out of the ball park!

Baseball Idioms Video 1

(hit it out of the park, hit a home run, pitch an idea, a strong pitch, right off the bat, take a rain check)

Football! The most popular sport in the world.
No, no, that’s soccer.
In America, we play football.
That’s a different kind of football. But this lesson’s about your favourite sport, Jay.
Baseball?
Yeah. Well, sort of. It’s about baseball idioms.
Fantastic! We’re gonna hit this one right out of the ball park. It’ll be a home run.
When he starts talking about baseball, sometimes it’s hard to know what he means.
I’m British and when I came to the United States I discovered there were lots of baseball idioms in American English. They’re easy. But you need to know something about baseball or they don’t make much sense.
Baseball’s easy. Let me tell you about the scoring system.
Hang on, Jay. Let’s keep this simple.
Oh?
Let’s start with the basics. Americans play baseball in a park.
A ballpark.
And there’s grass. It’s like a pitch.
No. You play soccer on a pitch. We play baseball on a field.
One person has a bat and another has a ball.
The pitcher pitches the ball to the batter.
‘Pitch’. Our first idiom.

I’ve got a great idea.
Uhuh.
Can I tell you about it?
Err, I’m busy at the moment. Pitch it to me later.
Oh!

So ‘to pitch an idea’ is to present it. A good pitcher makes a strong throw.

That was a very persuasive presentation.
Yes, it was a strong pitch.

So ‘pitching an idea’ is like throwing the ball out there.
That’s right. Then the batter hits it as far as they can.
They want to get a home run.
A home run! There’s another one.
Yeah, a baseball field has four bases.
If the batters run around all four bases, they’ve hit a home run.

That presentation was amazing. Was it OK?
Fantastic! What a great job!
I think the audience liked it.
Liked it? You hit it out of the ballpark.
You hit a home run.

So what does ‘hit a home run’ mean?
It means be very successful.
And ‘hit one out of the ball park’?
That’s a fantastic success. You can’t do better than that.
And if you hit a home run right off the bat….
Hang on. ‘Right off the bat’. That’s another one.

So what happened?
I walked in the room and right off the bat I knew something was wrong.
Right off the bat? Yeah.
Right away he said, ‘You’re fired’.
He said that immediately?
Yep. No delay.

So ‘right off the bat’ means with no delay.
Yes. As soon as the ball hits the bat it comes right off it. It happens immediately.
And speaking of things that are happening immediately….
What?
I’ve gotta go.
Why? The game is starting in five minutes.
But we haven’t finished the idioms.
We’ll have to take a rain check.
Stop! ‘A rain check’. What’s that?
Oh, sometimes the weather’s bad and then the game is cancelled. If you have a ticket to a game but it rains, they give you a ticket to another game. It’s called a rain check.

I’ve got a problem.
What’s that?
I can’t make Monday’s meeting. Can I take a rain check?
Sure. Are you free sometime next week?
Yeah. How about Tuesday?

The game’s starting. I need to take a rain check.
OK, then please come back later guys and we’ll have some more baseball idioms for you then.
We ‘hit things for six’ in British English.
I have no idea what that is.
Well, if you…. if you’re playing cricket and you hit the ball a long way, then you can make six runs.
Oh, I think I get it. Six runs around the bases?
Yes, well back and forth ’cause there are only two wickets.
What’s a wicket.
A wicket… a wicket is, oh you’ll be stumped by this Jay…
A wicket is, is three sticks in the ground with some little pegs on the top.
And you have to bowl a ball and hit the wicket.
What? Do you bowl the str…. Do you… what …bowl…. bowl… we bowl ..
We bowl a ball in bowling. No, we bowl the ball.
How do you strike the batter out?
You don’t strike the batter.
That would get you disqualified if you hit the batter. It would be terrible.
Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript.

Baseball Idioms Video 2

(touch base, off base, caught off base, cover all the bases, drop the ball, a curve ball)

Welcome back to another video on baseball idioms.
Yeah. Now Vicki last time I never actually told them how to play baseball.
Yeah, you did. I didn’t. You did. I didn’t. You did. I didn’t.
Baseball is very easy. Here’s what happens. The batter hits the ball and then runs around the four bases.
The bases.
Yeah. And they briefly touch each one. The batter needs to get to each base before the ball.
Hang on. These are the bases. Yeah.
If the batter touches base before the ball, they’re still in the game. But if they don’t, they’re out.
So they have to make contact with the bases.
Exactly.

OK. I’ll talk to Pete about this.
And I’ll contact our suppliers.
And I’ll find out about the packaging. Let’s all keep in touch.
Yes. We need to know what we’re all doing.
Can you both let me know how you make out?
Yes. Let’s touch base soon.
Why don’t we meet again on Friday? Yeah.

So here’s an idiom: touch base. It means maintain contact to make sure everyone has the same information.

Can we touch base soon? It’s been a while since we spoke.
Great. Let’s meet on Monday.

What happens if a batter doesn’t touch a base?
That’s a problem. If they’re off base and the other team catches the ball, the batter could be out. You don’t want to be caught off base.
Caught off base.

Why have we got all that ice cream in stock?
Well, the weather forecast said it would be hot on Saturday.
So you bought lots of ice cream.
We thought we’d sell lots.
But then the weather turned bad.
It caught us off base.

Off base. You don’t want to be caught off base.
That’s when something unexpected and bad happens.
Our next idiom: caught off base.
Yeah, you want to be prepared. The other team is going to position someone at each base so they can try to stop you from making a home run.
Uhuh.
They’ll try to cover all the bases.
Cover all the bases. I know this one.

So if it’s sunny we’ll eat outside.
Yep. And if it’s raining we’ll eat inside.
Yep, and if it’s snowing we’ll cancel the party.
Yeah.
Good. I think we’ve covered all the bases.
Yeah.

It means deal with all the possibilities. Plan ahead so there are no shocks or bad surprises.
You know we use a lot of these idioms in the UK too. But here’s an idiom that I’ve only heard in the US.

Hey Jennifer.
Hi Jay.
I’m calling about the video.
Oh yeah? How’s it going?
Do you have the pictures? The pictures?
Yeah, you were gonna get some images.
Oh, you’re waiting for me to send the pictures.
Yeah.
I’m sorry. I’ve really dropped the ball on this one.

You said ‘dropped the ball’.
Yeah, I meant I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do.
Dropping the ball is about a failure, making an error.
That’s right. Now I never drop the ball normally.
No, but you did then. That was an idiom I hadn’t heard in the UK.
I know. We threw you a curve ball, didn’t we?
Curve ball. That’s another one.

OK. I want detailed plans before that meeting.
Yeah, yeah.
I want to know exactly what’s happening.
Yeah, yeah.
I don’t want any surprises.
Don’t worry. I won’t throw you any curve balls.

In British English we’d say ‘curved ball’.
Yes. It means do something unexpected, something that’s surprising.
But it’s a nasty surprise.
Yes, a curve ball is usually unpleasant for the batter. It’s devious. You think it’s going one way but then it goes another.
It’s a trick. Yeah.
It’s like American baseball idioms then. They can be tricky.
Yep.
OK. We’ve got to stop now but we haven’t finished.
Please check back later because we’ll have another video on baseball idioms.
And don’t worry. We’ll cover all the bases.
‘Cause in British English we say ‘curved ball’. Yep. It comes from cricket.
But the ball’s not curved. It’s… it’s round. No, no, no. It’s… it’s curved as in the adjective. E -D. It’s the past participle adjective.
A curve ball follows a curved path so it’s a curve ball. It’s a compound noun. Curve ball.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript.

Baseball Idioms Video 3

(a ballpark figure, big leagues, play hard ball, in a league of your own, batting a thousand)

Welcome back to our third video on baseball idioms.
Baseball is such a great game.
If you can understand it.
Baseball’s really popular in the United States.
Everyone loves a trip to the ballpark.
Ballpark. It’s part of our first idiom.

How much will you need to fix the roof.
I don’t know. There’s materials, paint, labor.
Well, just give me a ballpark figure.
Maybe five thousand dollars.
What?

Ballpark figure. It’s an estimate. So many people attend a big game that it’s hard to count them accurately.
So a ballpark figure is a rough estimate of a big number.
Yes, basball crowds are large. The thing is everyone grows up playing baseball here.
There are lots of little leagues. Leagues – we have them in football too.
Soccer.
Leagues are groups of teams that play one another.
Yeah. Kids play in little leagues and professional players play in the big leagues.
Big leagues! Another idiom.

Oh boy, have we got a problem.
We’d better hire a lawyer.
We’d better hire a big league lawyer.

So what’s a big league lawyer?
A very important one. They operate at the top level.They know how to play hard ball.
Hard ball?
You can play baseball with a hard or a soft ball. Hard balls are dangerous so kids learn to play with softballs.

It’s a lot of money.
Everyone wants to win this contract. The competition will be tough.
Yep, they’ll be playing hard ball.

So if someone plays hard ball?
It means they’re strong, experienced and willing to take risks.
So to play hard ball is to play tough. Maybe aggressively. Baseball can be a dangerous game.
Now here’s another idiom with the word ‘league’.

Everybody say hey!
What are you watching?
Oh I love this video that Jason made.
Me too. He’s fantastic in it.
Yeah, he’s in a league of his own.

If you’re in a league of your own you’re exceptional.
Yeah, you’re too good even for the top team.
Now statistics are important in baseball, aren’t they.
Yes, we have batting averages. If a batter has a perfect record for hitting the ball, they get a batting average of a thousand.

I’ve been reviewing everyone’s sales figures. Vicki, your results are excellent.
Thank you.
You’ve been our top salesperson every month this year. You’re batting a thousand.
Batting a thousand.
Now Jay.
It’s been a difficult year for me.
I can see that. You’re in a slump.

So batting a thousand. That’s the maximum possible. You can’t do better than that.
And if a batter is in a slump? Their statistics have been very bad.
OK. It’s time to stop but we hope these idioms will help you bat a thousand.
And come back soon and we’ll have another baseball idioms video.
What are you eating.
Oh. Crackerjacks. People eat them at ball games. Would you like some?
Oh yes please.
Here we go.
They’re like in the song. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks.
You know we should teach them the song in the next video.
Yeah. It’s like popcorn.
Yep.
Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript.

Baseball Idioms Video 4

(a whole new ball game, step up to the plate, three strikes and you’re out, out of left field, stuck out in right field)

This is our final video on baseball idioms. You’ll learn some great new expressions.
And you’ll learn a song. Come on. Let’s get going.
The wonderful thing about baseball is you never know what will happen. Every game is different. It’s a new game with new possibilities.

We need an idea for a sales promotion.
Let’s have a competition.
We had one last year. And nobody entered.
Forget last year. It’ll be very different this time.
We do have a lot of new products this year.
Exactly. It’ll be a whole new ball game.
Hmmm.

A whole new ball game? Yes, it means a completely different situation – totally new.
Now we’d better tell everyone about home plate. It’s a piece of white rubber and it has five sides.
It marks the place where the batter stands.
Yes, home plate is where a lot of the action starts.
When a batter steps up to the plate….
Hang on. There’s another idiom.

We’ve got a problem. The website went down three times last week.
Yes, I’m afraid the webmaster quit. There are problems with the code, but we have no control over that.
Well, who’s responsible then? Somebody’s gotta fix it.
Yes, fix the code. It’s quite a challenge.
Well, who’s going to do it?
What? Me?
Don’t worry Christina. Jay will fix it.
It’s a wonderful challenge for him. He can’t wait to start.
Excellent. Thanks for stepping up to the plate, Jay.
Bye now everyone.
But I don’t know anything about website code.

So to step up to the plate means to take on the responsibility for something.
Yes, when the batter steps up to the plate, they rise to a challenge.
Now how many chances does the batter get to hit the ball, Jay.
Well, it depends. They can only get three strikes. Now I’m the batter. The strike zone is from my chest to my knees. If the pitcher throws a ball and it’s in the strike zone and I don’t swing, that’s a strike. If I swing and miss, that’s a strike too. Three strikes and you’re out.
That’s another idiom!

You were two hours late this morning.
Yeah.
And you were two hours late last Wednesday. Yeah, sorry.
That’s two strikes.
If you’re late again, you’re out.
You’d fire me?
Yes. Three strikes and you’re out.

So a strike is a kind of failure. That’s right, and you’re only allowed to fail three times. After that, you’re out.
Now tell us about left field and right field. Left field is a long way from first base.
It’s hard to throw the ball to first base from left field.
So it’s surprising when balls come out of left field.
Yeah.

We have big plans for you, Graham. We’re going to give you a promotion.
You’re going to be our sales manager for all of Asia.
Gee, I’m sorry guys, but I quit.
You’re resigning?
Yeah, I got a better job.
But we had everything planned!
Wow! That came out of left field.

So something out of left field is surprising.
Yep. It’s odd or strange. It’s often something bad too. We don’t expect balls to come from left field.
They’re unconventional.
Yep. When ideas are crazy or eccentric, we might say they came out of left field.
So is it the same with right field?
No, that’s a little different. Right field is a quiet place. Nothing much happens there.

How long have you been working here, Jay?
Twenty seven years.
And you’ve always had the same job?
Yep.
You’ve never had a promotion?
No.
Sounds like you’re stuck out in right field.
Yep.

So if you’re stuck in right field, nothing much happens.
Yeah, if you’re in right field, you’re disconnected from the action.
I’ve heard a lot of these basball idioms used in British business conversations as well. And some of them are similar to cricket. But some of them were a whole new ball game for me too. We hope you find them useful.
Yeah, we hope they help you hit it out of the park.
We’ll be batting for you.
Batting for you?
Yes, we’ll be on your side, rooting for you.
Rooting for you?
Yeah, you root for your favorite team.
You mean you support them.
Yeah, like I root for the Phillies.
Root, root, root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame.
And it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript.

try to do and try doing

Try to do and Try doing (gerunds and infinitives)

‘Try’ is a special verb in English because we can follow it with either a gerund (ing form) or infinitive. However the meaning changes.
Watch the video and learn how ‘try to do’ is different from ‘try doing’.

Watch videos about some other verbs that can be followed by gerunds and infinitives. Learn how their meanings change.
used to do – be used to doing
stop to do – stop doing
Click here to watch more grammar videos

Try to do or Try doing script

What are you doing?
Oh, I’m trying to learn to touch type.
But what are all the stickie notes for?
Oh, I’m trying not to look at the keys.
Good luck with that.

The verb ‘try’ can be followed by an infinitive form or a gerund and the two structures have very similar meanings. In fact they’re so similar that in some situations you can use either.

Have you spoken to Rachel? No I tried calling her but the line was busy.
Have you spoken to Rachel? No I tried to call her but the line was busy.

In both cases Jay wanted to speak to Rachel. ‘I tried calling’ means he thought phoning might be the way to do it. I tried to call’ means he made an effort – made an attempt to speak to her.
So the difference is very subtle – very small. ‘Try doing’ is about getting results, achieving a successful outcome. Try to do’ is about making an effort.

I’m trying to change this lightbulb but I can’t reach.

We often use ‘try to do’ when we think something is hard.

We’re trying to do this jigsaw, but it’s very difficult.

What’s a frog’s favourite drink?
Jay, I’m busy.
Croak-a-Cola. Did you know cows have four stomachs?
Jay, I’m trying to work.

So we use ‘try to’ when an action iteself is hard. When an action is easy but we don’t know if it will achieve the result we want, we use ‘try doing’.

What do you think?
It’s a bit tasteless.
Try adding some salt.
OK.

Adding salt is easy, so the issue here is will salt make it better. Try doing’ is about experimenting to find something that works.

The television’s not working. Try plugging it in. Oh.

We often use ‘trying doing’ when there’s a problem and we’re suggesting a possible solution.

Coming?
I want to finish my coffee. It’s hot.
Try putting some ice in it.
Good idea.

I do wish you’d try going out with some of the other boys as well as Geoff.
Why? Mother I like Geoff a lot.
I know dear. I like him too. But after all, there are other boys in the world.

So ‘try to do’ – make an effort. ‘Try doing’ – experiment. You can see both forms in this sentence here. Learning to touch type is hard. You have to make an effort. Perhaps sticky notes will help, or perhaps not. They’re an experiment. One last example.

What are you doing?
I’m trying to get a paper ball into Kathy’s trash can.
Oh well done!
Can I try?
Sure.
OK. Here we go.
Try rolling it into a smaller ball.
OK.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
Watch videos about some other verbs that can be followed by gerunds and infinitives. Learn how their meanings change.
used to do – be used to doing
stop to do – stop doing
Click here to watch more grammar videos

security safety

Security and Safety – an in depth explanation of these two English words

Security Safety – do these words mean the same thing? Sometimes the meaning of security overlaps with safety, but safety is the more general term. In this video lesson we go in depth and look at how we use these two words in English. To see a simpler explanation,click here.


Click here to see a more basic explanation of these words.
Click here to see more videos designed for business English learners.

Security and Safety – in depth explanation

I should be home by six.
Have a safe journey.

Bad things happen. Sometimes bad things happen by accident. And they can be safety issues. And sometimes, bad things happen because of bad guys. And they can be security issues. These words are about preventing bad things from happening. Safety is generally about preventing accidents. Security is generally about preventing bad guys from doing bad things. Now, that’s a good rule-of-thumb to follow. But sometimes, the meanings of these words overlap.

It’s bad news. Sales are down and the future of the company is not secure.

Nobody’s job is safe. Both ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ are possible in this context. And they mean much the same thing. So, perhaps it helps to look at the roots of these words. ‘Safe’ comes from the Latin word ‘salvus.’ It means healthy and sound, in good condition. Is this water safe to drink? Uh, no. Have some bottled water. Ok. Thanks ‘Secure’ comes from the Latin word ‘securus.’ It means free from care. So secure can describe how we feel when we’re worry free and happy. We talk about secure investments – investments we feel confident about because they’re not risky. And we talk about having job security – feeling confident that our job will continue.

Is your financial future safe? Is gold a secure investment? Is your financial future secure? Is gold a safe investment?

Safety is the more general term. It’s about protection from all kinds of things. Security is more specific. It’s about protection from the bad guys. We talk about national security – things governments do to keep their citizens safe. We have prison security and we have border security. And we have airport security – protecting people from the bad guys who pose threats. Safety is less specific.

Officer, will my car be safe if I leave it parked here? Yes, but don’t leave anything valuable in it.

Notice that Jay says ‘safe’ here, not ‘secure’ Officer, will my car be safe if I leave it parked here? There are all kinds of things that could happen to his car, including theft or loss. So safety and security – they’re both about protection from bad things. Security – protection from bad guys. Safety – protection from – well – all kinds of different things.

Is this website safe?
Oh yeah, don’t worry. You won’t get any, uh, spyware or viruses from it.

Hey, is this website secure?
Yes, you need a password to get into it.

Oh, right. Is this website safe? Oh yeah, don’t worry. You won’t get any, uh, spyware or viruses from it.
Hey, is this website secure? Yes, you need a password to get into it.
Oh, right.

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
Click here to see a more basic explanation of these words.
Click here to see more videos designed for business English learners.

American Casualties of Drawing

American Casualties of Drawing

This video tells the story of an event we came across going on in the street near our home. It was an art project that carried an important message about gun violence and homicides in the US.

Transcript
I am an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery Community College and I am an artist. And this is a project I created called American Casualties in Drawing, in which we are drawing the amount of homicides in America from January first to September twenty-first of this year.
How many?
About ten thousand… ninty-seven hundred. When you tell somebody that twelve thousand people a year die from homicides in America, it’s just a statistic. But when you see ten thousand chalk body outlines stretched fifty feet wide eight blocks long, the reality of that number is there for you to see. It tells a story of the time that we live.
Mayor Nutter giving us these ten city blocks, for us to take up space in the middle of a downtown center, is a testament to how important this is to the city. And, the feeling that you get when you lay down on the ground, and have somebody outline your body as if you had been killed by gun violence, I think is incredibly powerful.
A thousand people a month are killed in America. We almost went to war because fourteen hundred Syrians were gassed. But in that same, in that same time period, a thousand American were gunned down in the street of America. So what I’m trying to do with this drawing is to show people the magnitude of the problem in America today.
Awesome! Great effort. Don’t do it!

Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript

Rachel's English American Pronunciation

Rachel of Rachel’s English is interviewed by Jason R Levine (Fluency MC)

Here’s an interview we recorded between a couple of English teachers that many of you may know. Rachel has a fantastic channel on YouTube teaching English pronunciation and Jason also has a fantastic channel where he teaches using rhyme, rhythm and raps.

Click here to see more videos on pronunciation
Click here to see another video we made with Rachel.

An interview with Rachel of Rachel’s English transcript

Jason finds out how Rachel began her wonderful ‘Rachel’s English’ website
Rachel, it’s so nice to be sitting down with you to talk. I met you once in “real life.”
That’s right.
But like many people, I feel like I know you from seeing your videos and following you. I have a lot of respect for your work.
Thank you.
And I’m so happy to have the chance to talk to you.I guess the first thing I want to ask, and I know a lot of people are interested in, is how did you get into teaching in the first place, was it English as a foreign language or a second language, was it something else and then, how did that connect or evolve into teaching pronunciation?
Yeah, well, I think it was a bit of an unusual path. I did teach a little bit of ESL but mostly Rachel’s English grew out of something totally different, which was, I went to school for opera singing.
Right.
I have a Masters of Music in Opera Performance. And so through that I was getting really connected to this part of my body.
So it was pronunciation first, in a sense, because you had this background in opera.
Yeah, the ESL work that I did was useful but I don’t think it actually is related at all to the Rachel’s English thing that I’m doing even though I did have that experience. So, mostly it grew out of myself singing in other languages. And so I was studying the pronunciation specifically and the phonetics of Italian, French, German, English for the stage; I had studied Spanish. So, there was that, my relationship to learning the pronunciation of other languages. But maybe even more so, it was spending a decade really focusing on breath and you know tongue placement and these kinds of things. And I think that gave me a really clear language to talk about pronunciation for other people.
Did you have a language teacher helping you with that or, and a music teacher, or were you learning the pronunciation of the languages through the music?
It was in a class that specifically for “Diction for Singers”; so it was always related to the goal of singing for the stage. And it was focused on pronunciation and not somuch the languages, although I the did take a semester of Italian, a year of German, and a semester of French.
So you almost had no choice; they focused you on pronunciation.
Yeah, they did, because, you know, if you only have one year and you need to get all of these things under your belt, then that’s what’s the most important; because as a singer you can memorize a translation and, you know, the feeling of what goes where, but in order to sell it, you have to really sound like you know what you’re saying.
And you were teaching English during that time or were you’d taught before?
I did teach English as a second language a little bit during that time at a place in Boston were all of my students were Korean and it was mostly one-on-one or two-on-one, thirty minute sessions, and I really loved it. I think the rhythm of the language is so important, and the melody. And for me, having the background in singing has been really helpful for that, partially because singing is rhythm and is melody, but also I think I developed an ear through that for when I hear someone do something, I can imitate it quite well. And then I can find out what needs to be changed. So, often with students, I’ll imitate, think what needs to shift, and then be able to articulate that to them, for their pronunciation.
That’s interesting. And do they know you’re doing that or is this your best kept secret you’re revealing right now?
They do they know because they’ll be talking and I’ll say “hold on,” and then I’ll do it myself and I’ll say, okay your tongue needs to make whatever adjustment.
I do that actually with grammar and vocabulary, if something’s high frequency, and I’ll kind of tune in to the collective use of English from listening but I don’t have that gift with pronunciation; so that’s great.
For the W consonant, the tongue tip is down here, and the back part of the tongue stretches up, so the tongue stretches this way. Ww, ww, wow. For the R consonant, the back part of the tongue does stretch up, here towards the middle part of the roof of the mouth. The front part of the tongue pulls back. So, with the W, the tongue is stretching. With the R, the tongue is sort of pulling up into itself.
I think I just have a real interest in the human voice and how we produce sounds,and vocal health, and this kind of thing.
So that’s where my interest lies, not so much in even teaching a language, or, I mean, certainly not grammar! Sometimes teachers will correct my grammar in videos because it’s not always
perfect.
It’s all about your passion; follow your passion.
That’s right. And so, like, pronunciation and the human voice, that’s where it is for me.
So what happened as far as getting your work up on YouTube? Did you first imagine putting a video of yourself up there and reaching just your students or more students?
No, actually, I didn’t have students when I first started the videos. I first started the videos when I was living in Germany and I was studying at a language institute there, so most of the people that in as in contact with were not American and also were not German: they were from all over the world studying German. And so I had a friend there from Turkey. And he was interested in American English because Hollywood is such a great exporter of American English, and wanted to sound more American. So we just played around a littlebit with a few of the sounds, and I was telling him, you know, what his tongue should be doing and this kind of thing. And he was like, wow, you’re really good at that. And I thought: hmm, idea! Actually, in undergrad, I studied computer science and in order to keep that skill set going, I had been wanting to make a website; I just didn’t really have a topic yet. But I knew that was something that I wanted to create and so when he told me he thought I was good at that, I thought, maybe that’s my idea. And so I made a few videos, put them on YouTube, connected them to a website, and just went from there.
And how, what was the reaction at first?
Nothing! There was no reaction for a long
time.
Why?
Well, I wasn’t doing them with a business mind; I wasn’t promoting at all; I was just exploring, basically.
And that was ok probably, at that point, or did it make you worried and nervous: nobody likes my approach?
No it didn’t make me worried and nervous, no, not at all, because I wasn’t doing it for an audience. I was mostly doing it as a way to explore a website-production kind of thing.
It’s great that you had this interest in both pronunciation and computers.
Yeah, no, definitely.
You weren’t an expert right? It just got you more into thinking about…
In pronunciation?
No, not pronunciation, I mean that I’m just wondering, especially for people out there thinking about doing any kind of online anything, but especially teachering or students who want to study online, who might be a little afraid of technology thinking that they can’t do it. It sounds like you kind of dove in. One step at a time.
Oh totally. I mean, when I realized what I needed to learn, I learned it. I did not start Rachel’s English at all with an idea of what it would be, like, in no way, and I’m still not sure what it will be.
And that’s important to the point now, because it’s gotten, it’s so well done now. I think that someone who hasn’t followed you for as long as I have or as long as many otherpeople here may have, would just think that, wow that she just, boom, but it didn’t happen that way, it grew.
It started out in a dorm room in Germany.
When was that, by the way?
That was 2008. This October will be my 5th year anniversary of posting my first video.
Congratulations in advance; that’s great.
Thank you.
I want to ask you more about the rhythm of English, because I focus a lot on that too. What techniques have you found most useful? Because there are a lot out there.
Yeah, well, I’m still developing that actually. But I’ve had a lot of fun recently working with students where I actually take the actual words out of the picture, and we just work on rhythm. So, for example, let’s just take that phrase da-da-DA-da: for example. And when you take the text out, you’re just focusing on the rhythm. Then the main thing I haveto do with my students is to make their short even shorter, duh duh duh duh, trying to make them comfortable with that kind of length; and then once they start having, like, the rhythmic language down, and they’re comfortable with that contrast and with making things that short, then when they put the word back in it’s just unreal how much better it sounds.
And then they’re so aware of the difference so if you don’t hear it yourself, feel it yourself, then you’re not going to catch it when people say it.
Yeah. It’s such a matter of boiling things down to the most simple units for teaching. So, like the L consonant, just drilling that, or in this case the rhythm, just drillingthat, out of the context of the word or phrase. And then you know you can teach people that this rhythmic pattern can apply to all ofthese different words. And so, yeah, then as they really drill one word and one pattern, they’re actually making themselves comfortable with the pattern that can be applied to tons of different words and sentences.
And you said you’re still developing this, so imagine where she’s going to go with…
Yeah, I’m excited about it!
…teaching the stress and what I call “shrinking and linking.” I just wanted to go back to ask you, when you first started out and you were making those videos, did you think about the fact
that so many students don’t have enough time in the class? I mean, you were teaching a group of Korean students.
Yeah, that was about a year before I started the Rachel’s English thing.
Was part of it, were you also inspired or motivated to try to deliver something to individual students who wouldn’t necessarilyhave that kind of attention to pronunciation?
Well, yeah, in a way. When I was teaching at the institute in Boston, all of my students told me no one else cared about the pronunciation
the way I did, and they really cared. So they really wanted a teacher who really cared.
Well, can you imagine someone who is trying to learn a language who’s not concerned about pronunciation? But it’s true, what you’re
saying. I hear this complaint from a lot from students that teachers aren’t focusing on it. So definitely that was in the back of my mind and the videos were made completely for self-study. I know that teachers do use them in the classroom but my original idea was just to have a great resource to use on their own because for me, since I left college, everything I’ve had to know, I taught myself. The library, or online resources, or whatever. Languages, computer stuff.
That’s interesting. I love that kind of learning.
Well, I can see how that has benefitted you and your work.
Yeah, definitely. Basically, I wanted to make something for English like I wished I was finding for French, and German, and Italian. I thought it wasreally fun. I wanted to sort of provide this service for students.
I think it’s really interesting that you made them for self-study.
You didn’t really think about a teache bringing them into the classroom. But now, I notice a lot of teachers using it in the flipped classroom model. The other day, literally the other day at
a college where I was doing a workshop, teachers were talking about the problem we just talked about: students want more and what should they do because they don’t feel trained enough. I think that’s a big reason why it’s not.
I think so, too. I’ve had teachers say the same thing: I don’t know how to teach that.
I’m a teacher trainer. My job is to try to train up teachers to be able to do that and now I’m wondering if that is the best
way because the other day teachers were gathered at this college in New Jersey. One teacher said, You know there’s this great teacher online, that teaches pronunciation. Students can just watch her, she’s online, I knew she was going, and she said, Rachel’s English! True story.
That’s awesome!
I smiled to myself “I’m going to have a conversation with her!” What she said was, “What I do with my students is just, you know, ask them to watch on their own or, and/or I learn from Rachel as a teacher how to do this in ways that I haven’t been able to do from books or even taking classes.”
It feels great to know that I’m providing something that can be helpful to teachers, too. Because you know teachers, obviously, it’s one person, and they’re reaching many,many, many so if I can help the teacher, then there’s just that many more people that are benefiting from it. But yeah, I think that the idea of the flipped classroom is so greatbecause, you know, not only do the teachers not need to learn every single thing to teach directly, they can sort of be a curator of other resources, and oversee the process of learning for their students. It’s a very specific skill set to teach pronunciation, different maybe than the to teach a language, and grammar,and classroom management. You would know, and she would know that, better than anyone.
That’s right, so, you know, not every teacher needs to be a great musician and a you know super great at teaching pronunciation if they know other resources that they can recommend.
Aren’t we at a time in history, with education, where, you know, teachers can be facilitators, guides, curators, mentors, you know, if you want to learn to be a great pronunciation teacher, fantastic; but if you don’t or if you don’t have the time, what’s the point of being a mediocre one, when you can go see Rachel.
Exactly, that’s exactly right. I mean, a great teacher is maybe one that knows, well, this person teaches this so well, there’s
nothing more that I feel like I could add to it, let me point my students in that direction, let them work with the material, and then I can be there for questions and guidance,
and that kind of thing. I think it’s so important.
And I think, ultimately, it’s just going to make education a lot better.
Yeah, I think so, too.
So you had that experience teaching in a classroom. Someone the other day said, talking about ‘ground teachers’, or teachers on the ground. I love that. Instead of, like, ‘first life’ or ‘real
life’. Are you a ground teacher also?
I’m not right now, actually.
You’re not on the ground.
Not on the ground.
Yes, only in the cloud. But I do have plans to start developing, maybe, some in-person workshop kind of things, then maybe move more into longer-term classroom
situation. I’m really not sure. I mean, I just, for every video I make I have ideas for a hundred. I feel like I have a lot on my plate with what I’m doing virtually. And so, I do really want to move into that, because I think that in-person aspect is so interesting.
Well, they can go hand-in-hand. Can’t they?
They can.
The blended learning doesn’t just have to happen with the teacher flipping the classroom, it can also be, people are watching your videos, but here you are in person…
I think, definitely. I see myself moving in that direction at some point, but it’s not in the short-term plan.
You just got back from a trip.
I did.
I was spying on you a little bit on the trip. I don’t usually spy.
I made it easy.
I guess it’s easy for us to spy on each other and many others who are watching, so it’s kind of fair. So tell us where you were, and also tell us, how much was work, how much
was pleasure? Because I did see you met some students.
I did.
…where you were. So tell us how that
was.
Well, I had my first-ever meetup, in Berlin. Two students came.
What?
It was great!
Not 200?
Not 200. Two students came, neither of them are German. It was fantastic! We sat down to coffee; we were there for about two hours and, just, discussed everything about
who they are. It was just fantastic getting to know them as people. It was very motivating for me, actually, to think these are real people, these are the people who are using my videos. And, like, wow. I mean, it’s easy sometimes, I think, to lose track of that when, as in my case, I’m only doing virtual teaching. I’m doing no one-on-one teaching.
Rachel, there are so many people out there who want to meet you at meetups in Brazil.
I know! In Russia, in Taiwan. I’d like to do more, definitely.
So you said you are interested in doing the on the ground workshops, so when are you going to…where?
Well, the most vocal group of people is in Brazil.
Yes.
So I will probably end up there at some point, I hope. I hope, fingers crossed. But also, I live in New York City and that’s such a melting pot, there’s so many people
there; it’s crazy that I haven’t done something in New York City. I should.
Wow! We should talk about that.
We should!
Great. Rachel, I know a lot of people out there, both teachers and students who follow you, are probably really interested to know how you make your videos. How do you makevideos, how often do you do it, how long does it take, do you do it on your own, do you do it with other people’s help…
Yeah. Well, I try to do two a week and it takes, depending on the length of the video,
it takes around ten hours per video.
Ten hours per video. That includes editing all the way to the end?
Yeah, that includes everything: brainstorming, writing out the transcript, doing my hair and make-up, the lights, all of the set-up.
How much help do you get with that?
I had been doing it entirely on my own until about maybe six months ago. I had someone come in and help me, because rather than doing it at home, I started doing it at the YouTube studios in Manhattan, where they have all of the equipment already set up.
That must have been really nice.
It was great. It was fantastic. But I have to have someone run the camera and the teleprompter and help me if I meant to say ‘consonant’ but accidentally said ‘vowel’. That kind of
thing happens all the time as I’m talking. But yeah and then, there’s, the editing takes quite a bit of time. I try to put some of the IPA and text up on the video screen.
Yeah, I noticed that you’re doing more of that.
Typing up the transcript, making, you know, an interactive transcript version for my website. The whole process is about ten hours.
How much of that process has evolved from when you first started? And how much have you changed, either, what you do, your approach to teaching pronunciation, and the video-making, in response to what students have told you, or teachers have told you they liked or didn’t like?
Well, I guess I haven’t actually gotten so much feedback that shapes how I make the videos. I more get, suggestions for topics which I try to do.
Is there anything you haven’t covered yet, as far as, consonants, vowels?
Well, I still have some blend work I would like to do. But the sounds are pretty much there. It’s more fleshing out the rhythm. As I said, I feel like I’ve got sort of a gray idea of how I want that to go, so trying to sharpen that. Really, I said before, for every video I have I ideas for a hundred more. I mean, I could right now write down a thousandvideos that I would like to make.
Do you? Or do you just keep them like..
I keep track as I go. But a lot of them are, like, I get an idea of a way to teach a sound and so then, that would be thirty-three different videos because I would do it for
every sound, and that kind of thing.
Right, right. I just want to take this opportunity to say that if you are a teacher, or even just a learner of English, or anything, if you wanted to write down your ideas and start video taping your ideas, it’s so easy
now.
It is, yeah.
To get stuff out there. Even, you know, starting like you did. Not with a mission to become what you’ve become, but just as an interest in what you were studying and learning.
Right, just exploring what’s interesting.
Yeah, and, you know, at that point, to know anything about a website, design, was kind of unusal, compared to now.
Oh it’s so easy now. You don’t need to know anything now.
Yeah, except that way you can focus on.. Right, the content. And not the vehicle to get it out there, but more, just, the content itself. Which is great.
Yeah.
Have you found any areas of teaching pronunciation that are particularly difficult to master as a teacher? And I also wanted to ask you, from a student’s perspective, if a student is feeling frustrated with learning something in pronunciation, I wonder how much of that is due to, you know, the fact that it reallyis difficult because of their first language, learning English, or how much maybe is like, oh, I just didn’t know this trick, or something.
Right. I guess I have a couple of different answers for that. First is that I think that the rhythm is the most important thing in capturing the language, the character of the language, much more important than sounds.
Rhythm.
Yeah, rhythm.
You heard it here from the expert. I’m so 100 percent behind you.
And so it’s been, as I said, I’m developing sort of my way for teaching that. So that’s coming along, but there’s one topic that I’m actually still struggling with teaching, andthat has to do with the placement of the voice. So in American English…umm…uhhhh…that’s our core sound. It’s very much so here.
The schwa basically; the elongated schwa.
Exactly! And as a singer, I have dealt a lot with placement, but not in a very concrete way.
What do you mean by placement exactly?
Well, no, exactly, that’s part of why it’s hard to explain, and something a lot of people don’t think about, but for me it’s like, where does my voice live inside my body. And for me, and I think for Americans, it’s generally a lot lower; other languages it tends to bemore nasal. If I take American English as my base and I compare it to other languages,for example Mandarin. I’ve had some students that just have a very, very nasal delivery; and it also just has to do with the placement. Their voice seems to live so much in their face, completely detached from the body. Whereas for me, I think it really lives in the body and then the face is sort of where the shape of the sound will happen. So that’s been sort of hard to teach because it’s not at all like,
“oh you need to round your lips a little bit more.” It’s not something that people can see that’s concrete. It’s like, where does your voice live in your body, that’s sort of a difficult…
Do you think people that develop high accuracy and fluency in their pronunciation, delivery through just experience; and, you know, just like anything else in language, they’re not aware of what we’re talking about; do you think that’s the way, in this case? It sounds like the Holy Grail: if you can find whereyou’re voice lives.
You can go from sounding not quite right to sounding very American really quickly if you can make that adjustment.
Does it come from just the input and the practice or is it something you could make a video for?
I’m working on a video series for it right now, but also a lot of it can be achieved through imitation. Yeah, but for some people
they’ll say “I know it’s not right, but I don’t know why it’s not right.” And oftento me it’s related to placement. So I’m trying to make some videos that will talk about thatin a concrete matter. Also, I’m very lucky to have found a teacher who I’m working with now named Tom Kelly. And he is an actor and he has a Master’s in Acting from Harvard. He has a great background, speech for the stage; and placement and how to make someone hear you in the very back of the theater and relaxation of the vocal apparatus and everything.
Would say he knows where his voice lives?
I would say he does, and he seems to have language about moving that around and some techniques for that. So he and I are working together.
So if you can learn from him, you can take that and formulate it somehow.
He and I are talking actively about a video series where we work together on that.
That’s really interesting. So we can look forward to more of that.
Hopefully we’ll figure out how to teach it.
It’s almost like “metaphysical.
Exactly! That’s why it’s so hard.
Rachel, not long ago I started teaching in a virtual classroom on WizIQ. I got hooked. The first time I did it I dragged my feet getting into a virtual classroom. As soon as I got in there, people were in the chat box meeting each other “Oh, I’ve seen you, nice to see you there” She’s talking, I have the mike and we’re reaching all these people, the way you do with your videos. Have you done any work in a virtual classroom?
Not entirely, I do have an online course but it’s focusing more on the student interacting with the materials on their own and then one-on-one with me.
Tell us about that. What’s your online course like.
Well, it’s eight weeks, and basically I cover the topics that I found I work on the most with my private students. But since there’s so much one-on-one time, that doesn’t reallymatter. If something they need to work on isn’t covered in the course, we work on it together.
It’s always one-on-one or do you do small groups?
It’s always one-on-one.
Do you Skype?
Yeah, we Skype. But actually, Tom, the teacher I was talking about, is teaching a course for me right now. So I did it four times; he’s doing it twice, and I think we’re going to have a good enough sense for what worked well and what could work better that when he’s done we’re going to brainstorm and I think really revamp it to include much more of that sort of, you know, one to five kind of thing. Once you’re more certain about what people share, their needs. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m looking forward to it because I think that when studentscan hear another student being coached and they’re not actively engaged in having to react, they can just watch, I think that’s a great opportunity for learning, too.
Yeah, I agree. And then also you can meet more private students this way because more people will come into those classrooms.
They learn from each other, they learn from me; I think it’s fantastic. And also knowing people from all over the world is such a cool thing. You know, when I firststarted doing this and they were getting popular and so people were asking me, “Do you teach?” and I hadn’t yet ever online.
And that must have just really shocked people to hear that.
It was crazy. Yeah, and so I wasn’t sure how beneficial it would be to teach someone on Skype, you know, with pronunciation especially when you’ve got the mike and the speaker thing.
So what’s it like?
It’s been great!
So if I invited you into a virtual classroom one day, would you accept?
I would love it. I would love to see what that’s like.
I’m teaching with students but also I have a plan to bring teachers together coming up. Stay tuned for that.
Fantastic!
Of course, I’d love for you to come.
Yeah, that’d be great!
Excellent!
Rachel, it’s such an honor and privilege to have you here.
Thank you for having me. It’s been very fun.
And this is the first episode or edition of “The Best in ELT with Fluency MC” so I’m really, really happy you agreed to come and it was great talking to you.
Yeah, you too.
I hope everybody enjoyed this conversation; I know I did. And please stay tuned for further editions of “The Best in ELT with Fluency
MC” only in WizIQ. Thanks so much. Peace and
much respect.

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Click here to see more videos on pronunciation
Click here to see another video we made with Rachel.
Click here to see one of Jason’s raps that we recorded.