Monday, June 25, 2012

Phonetic Film Quiz #6

This week, the phonetic quiz is another series of films (which were originally books) and I've provided you with the characters, not the actors. Which movie series is it?

/hə'mɑɪəni: 'greɪndʒə/

/'ælbʌs 'dʌmbʌldɔ:/

/'ru:bi:əs 'hægrɪd/

/rɒn ‘wi:sli:/

/’sevərəs sneɪp/

/'dreɪkəʊ 'mælfɔɪ/

/'sɪri:əs 'blæk/

/hæri: pɒtə/

/lɔ:d 'vɒldəmɔ:t/

Here are the answers.  I’ll provide another quiz next week and it will be quite different.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sounds: The Pronunciation App (App Recommendation #1)

I've recently upgraded to an iPhone and it is BRILLIANT!  This the first proper smartphone I've had and I'm slowly learning about apps.

Therefore, I've made a new 'tag' for my blog - App Recommendations.  Just like my Blog Recommendations, Book Recommendations and Useful Website Recommendations, I will tell you about useful apps for learning English as and when I find them.

Today, I want to recommend Sounds: The Pronunciation App.  It helps you to learn the phonetics by providing a FREE interactive phonetic chart.

It takes this:

and makes it this:

I've found it very useful in the classroom and I know some of my students have already started to use it to improve their pronunciation.

If you are interested, follow this QR code (or visit, download it and try it for yourself.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How do you pronounce your name?

I’m going to confuse you. Are you ready?

If you read my previous post then you will see I encouraged you not to use Google Translate and that a proper dictionary and learning the phonetics was better.

I still believe that... but now I want to you visit Google Translate to hear something interesting.

Let me explain what to do.
Listen to the differences.
Enjoy them!
  1. Type in your name. 
  2. Translate it into another language. 
  3. Click on “Listen” 
Google provides different pronunciations for the same word (your name) depending on what the language is.

Take a look at this little demonstration of mine.

Why is this important?

First of all, it’s quite funny to hear your name pronounced in another language.

Secondly, if you put other names into Google Translate then you get some ideas about the important differences in pronunciation between languages.

Try out a few names and you might notice some big differences in pronunciation.  Here are the translations I showed you in the demonstration.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Phonetic Film Quiz #5

This next quiz is from an animated movie. This time it is the names of the characters from the English version.


/bʌz ˈlaɪtjɪə/

/ˈmɪstə pəˈteɪtəʊ hed/

/slɪŋki: d



/bəʊ pi:p/

Here are the answers and I'll post another quiz next week.

Remember to visit the Macmillan Interactive Phonetic Chart for help as well as this helpful video which explains the chart by Adrian Underhill.  Or, download Sounds: The Pronunciation App.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Phonetics & Names, pt 1: Good for Business

Image from Flickr

I don’t normally deal with English for business. However, I’ve taught it before and business students can be some of the hardest working students I meet.

Students of Business English always need to know more than the language, they need to know the culture. Respecting the traditions of a culture and making sure you don’t make any embarrassing mistakes is very useful in make a first impression.

First Impression: what a person thinks about you after meeting you for the first time.

People in business understand how important a first impression is and that is why I think it is very important to know how to pronounce names.

Think about how much it annoys you to hear your name pronounced incorrectly. Think about how happy you are if somebody pronounces your name correctly first time! Phonetics and the phonemic chart can help you!

oxford female names

Here is a page from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. It has the most common English names and the phonetic spelling of the name. If you know how to read the phonetic alphabet then it works better than checking pronunciation with something like Google to listen to the audio.


Better understanding of English sounds and how to say them will improve your pronunciation in general.
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