Thursday, 28 November 2013

PAST OR PRESENT? /s/, /d/ or /t/? RUN BABY RUN

Here's a song, Run Baby Run, by Sheryl Crow to  help you identify present and past verb forms from the pronunciation of final consonants /s/,  /z/,   /d/  or  /t/.  Also to homage a good friend.

Listen to the song and fill in the gaps with the correct verb form, present or  past, according to what you hear. Click first on the clue, the infinitive of the verb written phonetically.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Hi there. Be ready to sooth your ears and read some phonetic transcription to identify the vowel sounds   /ɑː/  /æ/  /ʌ/  /e/  /ɜː/  /ɪ/  /iː/  /ɒ/  /ɔː/ /ʊ/  /uː/   through the lyrics of the song Splitter by Calexico   transcribed phonetically with the programme PhoTransEdit.

Listen to the song  and do the gap-fill exercise while listening and reading the phonetically transcribed lyrics. Click on the clue button to get a vowel phoneme  /ɑː/  /æ/  /ʌ/  /e/  /ɜː/  /ɪ/  /iː/  /ɒ/  /ɔː/ /ʊ/  /uː/ the missing word contains. Write the word in ordinary English spelling.

Friday, 20 April 2012


(By Rosa Maté Ibáñez and Ana López Pozo)

It's the little things that make the difference.

In this song, Littlest Things by Lilly Allen (made popular by the viral power of the net), you can learn to identify and practice glottal stop, represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet as /ʔ/. This is produced by obstructing the airflow in the vocal tract. In certain positions  it may be used as an allophone of the phoneme / t/; This is known as glottalling or glottal replacement of 't'. See tutorial on glottal stop .
T Glottalisation is one of the features of Cockney English. See Cockney rhyming slang. The term Cockney has both geographical and linguistic associations. Geographically and culturally, it often refers to working class Londoners, particularly those in the East End. Linguistically, it refers to the form of English spoken by this group. It used to be looked down on by some people but today it is becoming more common and accepted. Due to the influence of  television series and some presenters, Cokney has spread. This has led to the adoption of a mock Cockney (Mockney) accent by some celebrities  looking for street credibility.
  • Listen to the song and do the gap-fill exercise while listening. Click on the clue button to get a phonetic transcription of the missing words. The clues in the gap-fill exercise for this song, Littlest Things, focus on the t glottlalisation

  • Can you find any more words containing glottal stop in the song apart from the gapped ones?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

COMMUNICATION. Linking consonants to vowels

Not understanding can be  a good reason to disconnect, both in daily communication and in life.

The clues in the gap- fill exercise for this song, Communication by the Cardigans, can help you  recognise linking features of connecting consonants to vowels and identify flap or tap t, /ɾ/, in order to understand  speech better, so that you don't have to disconnect!
  • In General American, International English and colloquial British English/t/ can be pronounced as the so-called flap or tap t, /ɾ/which sounds like a short d or, more precisely, like the quick, hard r sound heard  in Spanish pero. So letter  can be heard as /leɾə/.
    Within words/ɾ/ must be followed by a weak unstressed vowel, i.e.  /ə, i /. The /t/ is tapped    in átom  /ˈæɾəm/but not in atómic /əˈtɒmɪk/.

    In connected speech, across words, this stress-sensitivity ceases to exist, and  /t/ followed by any vowel undergoes this t- to- r process; not only do we find tapping in get alóng  /ˈɡeɾəˈlɒŋ/ , where the next vowel is unstressed, but in get úp /ˈgeɾʌp/ too.
    • Listen to the song and do the gap-fill exercise while listening. Click on the clue button to get a phonetic transcription of the missing letters. Be aware that in the gap you have to write the ending of a word, a space and the  next word or beginning of  it.

    Friday, 28 October 2011


    This post is dedicated to all those Spanish State Teachers, colleagues of mine, who  are suffering the consequences of the regional governments  education cutbacks  in various Spanish Communities and to all those thousands of now unemployed teachers who have not been contracted by these regional governments in order to transfer the public money, thus saved,  to Private Education.  A tough situation for the teaching community  only sustainable thanks to the teachers' professionality and generosity. My  support  for their patience and excellence of their work in such difficult times.
    • The Logical Song by Supertramp, a British rock band with major hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s,  can serve as  food for thought this time on the subject of State Education. The song was inspired by the experience of Roger Hodgson, the singer and composer of this song, who was sent to a private boarding school as a boy.
    • Before listening to the song, read the quotations by Spanish poet Antonio Machado and philosopher and writer Miguel de Unamuno translated into English.
          "Regarding culture and knowledge, you only lose what you save; you only gain what you give" Antonio Machado.
          "True science teaches, above all, to doubt and to be ignorant". Miguel de Unamuno.
           This is also a perfect song to practise Syllabic Consonants,  a phonetic element that normally patterns as a consonant, but may fill a vowel slot in a syllable. A weak, unstressed syllable often has a schwa /ə / in it. But if the schwa is omitted, we are left with a syllabic consonant,  a syllable where the vowel and the consonant have merged into one.
          The syllabic consonants  n, l,  r, are phonetically represented  as  / /   / l̩/  /m̩/   /r̩ / 
          Here are some examples:
          button     /ˈbʌtn̩/
          widen    /ˈwaɪdn̩/
          able        /ˈeɪbl̩ /
          bottle      /ˈbɒtl̩ /
          blossom   /ˈblɒs

          Syllabic r occurs in words like
          history      /ˈhɪstr̩i/ 
          Hungary   /ˈhʌŋɡr̩i/ 

          • Listen to the song and do the gap-fill activity designed for intermediate and advanced  students. fill in the gaps using the "Clue" button, where the missing word is transcribed.

          • What's the song about? Can you find a connection  between the quotations and the song
          • Discuss the subject of Private vs State Education in your country.

          Friday, 18 March 2011

          IF YOU WERE A SAILBOAT. CONDITIONAL SONG. Vowels and diphthongs

          The song If you were a sailboat composed and interpreted by the  Georgian-British singer, songwriter and musician  Katie Melua, will help us this time to sail through vowels /ɪ/  /ɪː/  /ʌ/  /ɑː/  /ɒ/  /ɔ:/  /ʊ/  /uː/, diphthongs  /aɪ/  /eɪ/  /aʊ/ and conditional sentences.

          This post has been inspired by the work of the English teacher  José Álvaro Álvaro, who participated in the course  Phonetics Through Songs and the programme PhoTransEdit, used for the transcriptions in the matching activity.

          There are two activities. Elementary and intermediate students should only do the first one, the gap-fill activity.  Upper-intermediate and advanced students can do both activities:

          • A gap-fill activity designed for elementary and intermediate students. Listen to the song and fill in the gaps using the "Clue" button, where the missing word is transcribed.  

          • A matching activity directed at upper-intermediate and advanced students. Once you've listened to the song and completed the gap-fill activity, try to remember the lyrics and  match the transcribed main clauses on the left with the conditional clauses on the right.

            Tuesday, 7 December 2010

            DECEMBER /ɪ/ /iː/ /ʌ/ /əʊ/

            Inspiring month for a rainy song, December by Norah Jones. The front vowels /ɪ/ /iː/and central vowel and diphthong /ʌ/ /əʊ/ mix harmonically in this almost syllabic song sung with nearly every syllable distinctly pronounced.

            • Listen to the song and complete the gap fill activity using the words in the box and the clues given in the ? buttons.