Pronouncing “Woman” and “Women”

This is a tricky one! The words are pronounced COMPLETELY UNLIKE they are spelled!

Both words end with “min” (or “mən” if you’re using the unstressed schwa sound). But the beginning of each is different.  You cannot rely on the spelling.  Sorry – English spelling in crazy sometimes. You’ll just need to memorise these:

Single – One woman is pronounced “woo min” (oo like in book)

Plural – Two or more women is pronounced “wi min” (i like in it)

Try a few sentences:

  • A woman [woo min] came into the shop.
  • Two women [wi min] went to a concert.

Keep up the good work learning English!

Making a Prayer Closet When You Have No Closet

prayer closetI recently posted a new page on my faith and talked about how I made a “prayer closet”.  You can click on the page at the top – “My Christian Faith” to see more:

“I was raised in a Christian household, so from an early age, I learned to love Jesus and follow his teachings. As a Christian, I am not superior to anyone, since I know I am lost, and Jesus saves me.  The journey of faith is lifelong, and what I knew in my childhood has grown into a more mature Christian faith as an adult.

Recently I went to see War Room, which is a movie about prayer (and not about war).  It encouraged me to make a “prayer closet” in my home.  This idea comes from the Bible verse, in Matthew 6:6 ” When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Read more here.

How to Pronounce “used to”

english pronunciation used toIt came up in pronunciation class this week. “How do I pronounce “used to“?  There seem to be 2 ways. ”  – and yes, there ARE 2 ways!

In both cases the D and T are linked together, making it sound like one word. But we’ll pronounce S or Z depending on the meaning.

In the sentence “I used to write in this notebook.” we say [yusto] with the S pronounced like an S. This means it is something we did, or took care of in the past.

  • I used to [yusto] live in Santa Barbara.
  • They used to [yusto] go to college in New York.
  • I used to  [yusto] work in a hospital.
  • He used to  [yusto] work at the grocery store.
  • She used to [yusto] own a dog.

In the sentence “It is used to teach pronunciation.” we say [yuzto] with the S pronounced like a Z. This means we are talking about the function, or use, of the object.  Essentially we are describing how something is “used” [yuzd].  When pronouncing this “used”, with a Z sound, be sure to hold it out longer, or make the duration longer, than with an S sound.

  • Sometimes games are used to [yuzto] teach English.
  • These markers are used to  [yuzto] color pictures.
  • The boombox is used to  [yuzto] play CDs.
  • Her tea kettle was used to  [yuzto] heat up water.


Listening – the Overlooked Skill in Accent Reduction

Listening Accent Reduction ClassIn Monday’s pronunciation class, we covered “ah”, “aw” and “o” (long o).

I discovered two students had a hard time hearing the difference between these sounds.  This is a very important skill!  If your students don’t hear a difference in sounds, they won’t be able to say the different sounds as expected!

Listening is a very important skill you should integrate it into your teaching when doing English pronunciation (or accent reduction).  Here are a few helpful suggestions.

  1. Say minimal pair words, and have students tell which one they heard.  Write the words on the board.  You can do this with “sit” and “seat”.  “Sit” would be #1 and “seat” would be #2.  Then have them hold up 1 finger if they heard the first and 2 fingers if they heard the second.
  2. Say minimal pair sentences.  Write the words again as #1 and #2.  We used #1 “ball” and #2 “bowl” in the sentence “Don’t drop the _____.”
  3. Say the words/sentences with your mouth covered (hold a piece of paper over your mouth).
  4. Say the words/sentences with your mouth visible to students (for when your students are really having trouble.)
  5. Exaggerate your mouth movements.  Students who don’t hear a difference in sounds, need that extra visual cue.
  6. Assign “Listening” homework.  See the listening homework I use in class (free printable).

By actively teaching listening, your students will improve their pronunciation!

More listening posts here: