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2 Tips to Improve Listening

  • Hoppler Team
  • 30/12/1899
High-Intermediate/Advanced

How to identifiy words and sounds to improve your English listening.

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Knowing how natives shorten, place stress or adjust pronunciation is important.

Take these sentences for example:
A steroid is a synthetic drug that resembles cortisol
Asteroid alert - is the basic plot of the movie Greenland

OR

Asteriod belts are common on Saturn
A steroid is something athletes should avoid.

How can you tell the difference between a steroid and asteroid? Firstly it's quite clear when we know the rest of the phrase or it is written, but a little tricker when spoken.

Waiting until the end of the phrase needs patience. You can't stop and think about what you heard first, otherwise you may miss the rest of the sentence. Then you are in the soup!

The most efficent way is to know is to pay careful attention to the stressed syllable and the vowel pronunciation. This will always give the game away.

asteroid has TWO syllables and is pronounced {ŃS-troid} with the stress at the beginning, and with the A as a hard A, like cAt or mAp.

There are THREE syllables in A steroid and the stress in on the 2nd syllable rather than the first. Also the A is more like the er sound in words like computER. Itís a sound which Portuguese doesnít really have, and which English speakers use a LOOOOOT. In phonetics it is often represented by the symbol {3r} (actually the 3 is sometimes inverted but I don't have this key on my keyboard).

Have a listen to the {3r} sound here

So A steroid would be pronounced {er-ST…-roid}.

In fact, 'A' as an article spoken by real natives is nearly always {3r}, and when you hear this at the beginning of a phrase, what comes next is most likely a new word. When you hear the hard 'A', itís probably part of a bigger word.

Finally, the {3r} sound is used in many other places, and will be the topic for{3r} another{3r} moment {3r}.

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