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Speaker 1 (00:00:04) - Hello and welcome to Spoken Like and native podcast. My name is Diane. I'm an English teacher from Scotland and a devoted language learner. And this podcast is for those learning English to improve their listening and vocabulary with episodes on engaging topics like culture, current events, history, and how languages work. If you want to improve your speaking and listening, head over to SpeakMeeters where you can take part in small group conversations hosted by native speakers. This is an amazing way to boost your fluency, expand your vocabulary, and increase your confidence by practicing with qualified, certified, and selected native speakers who really enjoy helping people. There are sessions at a range of levels for English, French, Spanish, and German. So book your first session today, SpeakMeeters And don't forget, you can take part in this podcast by telling me your ideas for topics. Information about how to get in touch with us is in the description, enough beating around the bush. Let's get this episode underway.
Speaker 1 (00:01:13) - Hi, and welcome to episode number four. Today I am going to answer a couple of questions at the beginning from other members of speak meters from people who are learning English. And then we're gonna talk about some, I'm going to introduce you to some phrases that you can use to make yourself sound more fluent when you are speaking. So these are phrases for when you are thinking about what to say, for example, or when you are trying to give some kind of context to what you're going to say. So they're basically like structural phrases or, or adverbs quite often. So let's get it underway. So the first question that I had from a member of the Speak Meters community, in which there are a lot of people who, for whom French is their native language. The question was how do people abroad perceive the French accent?
Speaker 1 (00:02:17) - So I can't really tell you how people in America or any other country really see the French accent because I haven't, haven't had those kind of conversations with, with those, with people from those countries about that. I'm not sure why I would really, but how do British people see French accents? Well, uh, the French accent is something that has been represented in the British tv, in British films for a long time. It's been part of our environment to be able to understand the French accents. So in a way that can, can be a really useful thing in the fact that because we've had such a long history of connection between Britain and France, if you speak with a strong French accent, it's likely that people will be able to understand what you're saying, even if your accent is quite strong and your are not really pronouncing in a very neutral or a British or an American way at all.
Speaker 1 (00:03:23) - Uh, a lot of people will be quite familiar with how, how you speak, but I wouldn't see this as an excuse for not trying to speak clearly because there are some things in particular which make it quite difficult to understand, to follow what you're saying. Remember that if there is an h at the beginning of a word, except for an example like honor, h o n o u r, that's an example, or honest, h o n e s T, the rest of words, which begin with h you, you have to pronounce the H Hospital Hotel. Holy happy, remember to pronounce it. Um, another thing is remember to say the s she work, it should be she works, she normally works at the weekend. Make sure that you try and pronounce the s like a simple thing, but it really makes a difference. That's, it's not so much accent as really emphasizing letters which are important for the meaning that you're conveying and for grammatical accuracy.
Speaker 1 (00:04:39) - So in many cases, English grammar is not too complicated, but those small things, those small details really make a difference. There's other sounds which, um, can be kind of, can interfere a lot with communication. So I've noticed that a lot of people learning English, who speak French, have trouble with the word a word like clothes. Uh, they say clothes is, um, it's the, the sound. So just try and practice making those sounds making like in, in the middle of clothes because there you have, uh, two consonants together. You have the the and the Z together. That can make it a little bit challenging to say. So details like that which make it clear that the person is a native French speaker is not a native English speaker and has this strong French accent, although we are accustomed to the sound of the French accent, it still can be difficult to tune into the accent and to to work out what every word is if they're not all pronounced in the way that you expect them to be pronounced.
Speaker 1 (00:05:50) - That can also come across in some of the, the vowel sounds, um, like the ease, how they sound for, for example. So what, what about the image? I think maybe the person who asks this question may have been thinking about the image or the perception of the French overseas. Well, there is a sense, I think that most people learning English as a foreign language do have, uh, a strong accent when, when they're from, uh, like French does influence quite heavily, um, how people speak English or I imagine other languages too. So there there is that kind of, oh, they're French, therefore they have a French accent. It's, it can be surprising if someone doesn't have a French accent. So, and I think possibly it might have something to do with the, the way that you learn to speak in French. It involves not really opening your mouth very much.
Speaker 1 (00:06:45) - I had someone, a colleague of mine, uh, many years ago who told me that she, she's actually French, and she told me one of the reasons for, for this, for people not necessarily picking up a very neutral or kind of clear accent speaking English, is that there is a sort of, it's not very cool or it's not very, um, comfortable to open your mouth and to accentuate and to make the kind of sounds that you need to make. If I were to look at myself in the mirror as I'm speaking now, I'm making all sorts of faces as I'm speaking. If we could compare that to some, sometimes when peop you watch people speaking French, they don't actually open their mouth very much. It's possible to speak French clearly without making a lot of, uh, gestures with your face. In the episode I had about accents, the, the last one when we had some samples of different accents, the the posh acts, the poshest accent that I I showed you, the one of Diana Mosley, you can do that accent, um, without, uh, one of the, the features of it is that the face, the mouth does not move very much.
Speaker 1 (00:07:56) - So if I was to start speaking in this posh accent, I wouldn't actually have to move my mouth so much as if I was going to speak in my normal accent. Um, it ha it conveys that sense of being calm, being relaxed, being self-assured, which I think is something which is encouraged in the French accent. I mean, and then further than that, uh, we would be getting into the territory of stereotypes and perceptions of other people, about a whole group of people, like a, about what's the stereotype about French people? I'm sure there's lots of the time when you encounter a French person, uh, as an English speaker and you have the assumption that they, they like to talk about philosophy. They like going to the cinema, they read books, um, they have discussions about the meaning of life. That's, I mean, they're all pretty good kind of stereotypes.
Speaker 1 (00:08:53) - It has. I think there's also a kind of a connotation of being sophisticated, a kind of sexiness. Some people find that, you know, quite attractive. The, the French accent can sound quite attractive. I'm not sure if I really agree a hundred percent in English, but definitely listening to French, I think it's a, it's quite a beautiful sounding language, but, uh, any language can be beautiful if it's, if it's pronounced properly, if people, if people are being themselves in their expression, expressing themselves. So I hope that gives you some idea and is of interest to you. If French is your first language, remember if you have your own questions about what would make things better for you, any doubts, any ideas, um, anything you would like to pick my brains about. As someone who has studied English, the English language for a long time, who's a native speaker and a a teacher, don't hesitate to get in touch.
Speaker 1 (00:09:52) - The contact information will be in the description. So I remember going back to the beginning of my teaching English journey, if we call it that one thing that stood out a lot. One of the things I remember most from the beginning was that thing that people, there were students who spoke when they were really concentrating and they knew what they were going to say, they spoke quite well. They spoke clearly, they didn't make very many mistakes, but as soon as they had to think and reflect in the moment and continue speaking. So if it wasn't something that they had off by heart that they knew very well, all the words, then their native language would start popping out. So the phrases that they would use to buy time to go, uh, where instead of saying, for example, in English, well, um, actually their native language would come out.
Speaker 1 (00:10:59) - What's quite funny is, of course, I'm, I'm showing you that in English we tend to go, um, um, is what our kind of, uh, waiting noise, our thinking noise in other languages, it's different. Um, I think that's really funny actually. Everyone has their their own sound to give yourself a bit of time to think about what you're going to say next. So let's get onto that actually. So as you can see, what I'm doing, what I'm saying by reflex is that I say, so this is used if you're going to tell a story, if you're going to explain something that perhaps the other person doesn't know, but another similar word would be, well, so your friend says to you, so what did you get up to last weekend? Well, at five o'clock we did this. Then after that we did this. And then can you believe it?
Speaker 1 (00:11:56) - This also happened so well is another way to introduce the topic. So, and well, but what about at the beginning, right? If we go back right back to the beginning of the conversation. So what do people say? What do I hear students saying often? Hello, how are you? Good afternoon, good morning, good evening, good night, whatever. Okay, that's good. But you could make it sound a little bit more natural. Instead of saying hello all the time, you could say hi. You could say hi. Obviously, if you know the person well, you can say hi. If you don't know them well, you would just say, hello, good afternoon, but good afternoon, good evening. It's, it's formal. It's what you would say. If you were in front of a big group of people or you're meeting someone in a formal situation. Other than that, just say hello, say, how are you?
Speaker 1 (00:12:52) - Or if it's someone that you know fairly well, hi, how's it going? How's it going? How is everything? Are you all right? What people will say a lot is, are you right? You right. And then how do we respond to that? I hear a lot of people whose English is not their native language thing. I'm very well or I'm very fine, or I'm quite fine. So okay, very well is correct. You can say that, but don't ever say I'm quite fine because it sounds like you're from another century com completely. If you say, yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine. So say I'm fine. You can say that, that means I'm good. You say in with quite a positive intonation. If you say fine with a more flat intonation, it means more average, not so good. But actually it, at least in the British context saying, I'm doing great, I'm very well, I'm amazing.
Speaker 1 (00:14:00) - It's n it's kind of, it's you can do it, but it's more common for people to say, I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm all right. Or they're classic, not bad, not bad, can't complain. So not bad is key. It's a key expression, at least in terms of the British context to say everything is good and what other ways are there to say how are you? Um, it's nice to have a variety, not to always have to say the same thing, you know, like in Spanish you can say <unk> or you can say you have <unk>. You can have several ways to say the same thing. So in English, how are you? Are you all right? How's it hanging? How's it going? So how's it hanging? Is a little bit informal, so don't say that in a business situation, but how's it going? It's fine. And a lot of it in terms of your formal or informal, um, communication is not so much about exactly always the words, but the intonation.
Speaker 1 (00:15:15) - So being a kind of giving a friendly intonation that will, that will help and using those kind of phrases will be with useful and as well as fine. You can also say, not bad, all right? Or pretty good, pretty good. If anyone's seen Curb Your Enthusiasm, you could say pretty, pretty good, I hope. Uh, someone gets that reference. Okay, so you start telling a story and you say so, and of course you can say, well, when you need to explain something where, where were you last week? I thought you were gonna be here. Well, let me tell you what happened. Let me tell you about that.
Speaker 1 (00:15:58) - Of course you say so, but of course you can also say, actually, well actually, or in fact, and also actually in fact are used when you are kind of clarifying something that someone says, I thought you were on still on holiday. Oh, in fact, we came back yesterday. Oh, I thought you still had that job with blah, blah, blah. Oh, actually, um, I stopped working there last week. And when you need to tell the person something surprising, you can say, do you know what? Do you know what you're updating the person on something which is quite unexpected or completely contrary to what they might think or what you thought was going to happen? Do you know what it's used be before a story where you are, you are bringing the person into your personal experience? It might be some kind of, uh, really funny story that happened or you found out something really interesting.
Speaker 1 (00:17:05) - It's very good for sharing gossip. So if you, have you found out something, oh, do you know what I heard about Blahba? Did you know, did you know about Bubba? Have you heard that's another one, a good one for gossip is have you heard? And then another one for explaining something which might be new or updating, it just so happens that it just so happens that, oh, hey Diane, I thought you were working until 6:00 PM Oh, it just so happens that I finished 10 minutes early and I think the best place to practice with these kinds of phrases, they're not always used so much. If you have something that's directly made for teaching students of English, I mean, I'm sure there's some stuff on YouTube or some podcast you can find, but I think in general it's probably better to focus on if you find some a series in English that you like, that's when you'll get the much more natural conversation.
Speaker 1 (00:18:07) - So put on the series, put on the subtitles in English in the same language, and then pause when you find a phrase, this kind of phrase that helps to clarify the conversation. These words are called discourse markers. So they help to mark what's going on in the conversation and um, as you go through, look them up if you don't understand and repeat the conversation. And so in, in TV series or in films, you'll see these kind of phrases used much more naturally. Okay, so then we move on to you're having a conversation with your friend or your colleague or I dunno, some family member, someone you know, vaguely, whoever. And then you get onto a conversation or a discussion. Maybe you're sharing your feelings about something or sharing, I don't know, you saw something on the news or on social media and you're talking about it and you have an opinion. So, um, to agree when you're having a discussion about something, what can you say?
Speaker 1 (00:19:18) - A good point here is to say that I hear a lot of people learning English, um, translating literally from their first language into English and saying, I am totally agree, or I am agree with you wrong, completely wrong. Well, not completely wrong, you say, I agree. It's a verb. Whereas first person I agree. Oh yeah, I agree. Yeah, I agree. Uh, but it's a little bit formal to say I agree, unless you're in a debating, um, discussion type conversation, a situation like that, it's more, it's more casual to say Sure, or Yeah, I know, I know. Yeah, I know.
Speaker 1 (00:20:04) - Or, um, so quite common in, in America is to say 100% or absolutely. Um, there's a podcast I listen to a lot where when they're agreeing with each other, there's one guy who's always saying, absolutely. Absolutely. Um, but would you say in the uk, but not as much. What else can we say? We can say exactly. Yes, exactly. So this is, this is very strong agreement. If you're kind of just agreeing or you're not completely, you're just saying the person has a good point or you're acknowledging their point of view or their experience. Sure, yeah, sure, I know. Yeah, I understand that. So it's, again, something is in the, the tone of voice, there's a difference between saying exactly and exactly or sure. And sure. So there's a communication that's happening in the intonation as well. So when we want to add to the discussion, that's a good point.
Speaker 1 (00:21:13) - Or if you want to add something on top, you can say, yeah, actually I realized that blah, blah, blah. Or also though, also very useful, you can just say also at the beginning of a sentence to add, uh, an extra point. So if you disagree, one way you can say is of course you can say, I disagree, but you can also say, um, actually, I don't think that's the case, for example, or in my view, or as, as I see it, as I see it. Um, so as I see it can be used to, to kind of, uh, just, just to give your own opinion. Doesn't really matter whether you're agreeing or disagreeing in every context, but yeah, it's used for saying for if you might have a slight agreement, uh, disagreement, but you want to communicate it in a polite way. So my view is that as I see it, that or you know, is when someone, when you get into a very heated argument, you may start saying, no, you are wrong.
Speaker 1 (00:22:23) - But that's, uh, not really the best thing to do with, uh, English speaking people. If you are really disagreeing, I just say, I disagree. But another way you can say is, um, I mean, I mean, so very, uh, it's quite a modern, uh, phrasing to use. So do you think that, uh, jaws is the best film? I've remained? Um, I mean I'm not so sure about that. I mean, actually I'm not so sure. Do you think the Titanic is the best film ever? I mean, it's not the best film I've ever seen. Another phrase, which is good, when you're kind of in a slight disagreement with someone, would you say, oh, but, but what about the ladi blah? Um, it's even called nowadays, uh, in sort of online debating terms. It's called what Aboutm is, where you kind of have a, you sort of change the area of discussion onto something else by saying, but what about the way that this affects such and such?
Speaker 1 (00:23:37) - I don't know, I don't wanna get into any particular topic here, but yeah, but, uh, yeah, I'm sure, but what about, so that, but what about is, you know, you're kind of bringing up a different topic or slightly disagreeing with someone when you have a, a slightly alternative point of view than they do. So another really useful phrase, um, instead of always saying, so, well actually, like, so like, um, I could be criticized from very old school English teachers, they would probably never teach this, but I think it's very useful because almost everybody says like, well, it's like it, you know, like, um, kind of like, sort of like, we even had a teacher who used to say this, like repeatedly used to say kind of like, sort of like, so it's become more, more common, I would say in the last maybe 10, 20 years before that it was considered to be something like fashionable, the, the youth.
Speaker 1 (00:24:49) - And was, um, mainly a feature of American speech. Now I think, um, well, I don't know, I don't wanna speak for other anglophone cultures, but in the UK it's very common to say like, so I was there, like it's, it gives you speaking, it gives you, um, some, some thinking time when you're, you're trying to work out you, you don't wanna be too exact or you don't know the exact details. So, so I was like, um, waiting and then, and it was kind of like 5:00 PM I guess, and I was like a bit late, but she was also like a little bit angry. So yeah, like is used a lot. And you can also use like, for your res reported speech, your ex, you are relaying a conversation that you had with someone. So, so I was like, how are you doing? And she was like, leave me alone.
Speaker 1 (00:25:56) - So when you, you talk about to, to introduce the speech of yourself, another person from the past in a reported way, I was like, and they were like, and then Nehi was like, so that's a way to talk about what people say anyway, anyway, is a really useful word to change the topic. And I think I'm going to just give you a couple of ending phrases and then we will call it a day for this episode. So what do you say at the end of a conversation? Well, it's a common signal when you're getting towards the end of a conversation. If you hear someone saying this, uh, towards the end of this conversation, you hear someone saying, yeah, anyway, uh, or, uh, well, it's, um, Ooh, uh, is that the time? Is that the time? Oh, wait, it's, did you know? Oh, it's, it's, it's almost six o'clock and you hear them saying that, and that's them giving you this signal that they need to go.
Speaker 1 (00:27:07) - They would like to finish the conversation. My dog is here at the moment. Um, so I need to finish recording. Alfie, do you wanna say something? Say something. He wants to eat the microphone looking at me funny, like, mom, what the, what the hell are you doing, mother? I'm hungry. Yeah, that's him. Clawing at the microphone. Okay. With an impatient dog. I'm gonna give you, take care. At the end of your conversation, you say, take care. Um, see you soon. Okay. Thanks for listening. If you have any ideas for topics you would like us to cover, I think next week we will have an episode, uh, with an interview with another native English speaker. So that should be, uh, a good example of different types of cultures who speak English. If you have any questions or any problems you want me to try and get a handle on about your English learning, don't hesitate to get in touch. Hopefully I'll see you on Speak Meters sometime soon. See you later. Take care.
Speaker 1 (00:28:20) - Thanks for listening. What do you think about today's topic? Remember, you can get in touch by leaving a comment or by joining the Speak Meters Community. Follow SpeakMeeters Instagram and subscribe to Spoken like a native on your favorite podcast platform. You can also leave a comment and like the stream. Please, please, please leave a review. It really helps us to find new listeners who are looking for fun language, learning content. And lastly, don't forget to head over to SpeakMeeters to take part in live conversations hosted by friendly native speakers. That's all for today. Catchy. Next time. Bye.