Long jumper

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Long jumper -

"My sister went out with a long jumper". Here's a claim with two meanings, and reading it, you'd never be sure which was intended. But hearing it would clarify things, because the speaker has a way of communicating the intended meaning. It's the vocal effort known as 'stress'. "Long jumper" (athlete) is two words acting as a single lexical item.

Surreal Soundscapes

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Blog -

In a language where "What's your address?" can become a homophone of "Watch or a dress?", there's plenty of scope for misunderstanding, even for what you might call 'native listeners'. For learner listeners, the situation is many times more perilous. For them, listening can be like wandering in a surreal soundscape.

The Complete Pronunciation Workout

Event date: 
Friday, March 17, 2017 - 11:30
Nationaal Congres Engels
Ede, Netherlands
Extra info: 
Plus downloads
Mark Hancock The Complete Pronunciation Workout Ede

Sometimes pronunciation deserves more than a passing correction or one-off task. In this workshop, we will see how pronunciation points can be worked on from various different angles, in coherent and enjoyable task sequences. Participants will try out example activities and discuss them. You can download the slides below.

Accent: are we bovvered?

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 10:15
IATEFL Glasgow
Boisdale 1, Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre (SECC) Exhibition Way, Glasgow G3 8YW
Extra info: 
Plus downloads
Accent: are we bovvered? -

There is a write-up of this talk here. Accent can be a problem in English teaching. Which accent do we take as a model? Must it be a native-speaker accent? Must it be a prestige accent?

Long and short; tense and lax

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Long and short; tense and lax -

Following last weeks post featuring a box set on the price/prize minimal pair, here's a box set on the bean/bin distinction. Again, one person is the speaker and says one of the phrases. His/her partner is the listener and says which they understood - A, B, C or D.

Vowels and voicing, belt and braces

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Vowels and voicing, belt and braces -

This image is a minimal pair, squared - what I call a box set. One person says one of the phrases. The other has to listen and say A, B, C or D. The minimal pairs in this instance involve /s/ and /z/ - these are a pair of related consonants, the first unvoiced and the second, voiced.

Someone called Anne

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Someone called Anne -

This pair of sentences could almost be phrasal homophones (oronyms), except for the differences in punctuation. They play with the fact that the sound bite 'call Dan' is identical to the sound bite 'called Anne'. There are also two meanings of 'called' (to phone or shout out to someone or to be named), which make the pair of sentences rather confusing!

Sick Spies or Six Pies?

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Sick Spies or Six Pies? -

Look at the pictures. Are the two pictures: a. a minimal pair, b. homophones, c. whatever?

Acoustic Drills and Audio Concordances

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Acoustic Drills and Audio Concordances -

There is something missing at the heart of the listening component in most ELT course materials. They fail to dig deep into the actual raw material of the skill – what Richard Cauldwell calls the ‘sound substance’.

The First Day

Materials -

The school was big, really big

I didn’t want to go

There were lots of kids, tall kids

Kids I didn’t know


I saw some friends from primary school

But only three or four

How many kids were in this school?

A thousand, maybe more!



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