Remember that spoken English can sound quite different from written language. In fast speech, fluent speakers often shorten or omit certain elements. It is possible to train yourself to understand fast speech. You do not need to imitate fast speakers, but focus on trying to understand what they are talking about.
1. Read the Listening Strategy. Listen to a student talking about his sister. Answer the questions.
1) What was Ella’s behaviour like?
2) What kind of child was the speaker?
3) What did people use to say to the speaker?
4) How did the speaker feel about his sister when they were young?
5) When did their relationship improve?
1) She behaved like an angel.
2) He was energetic and noisy.
3) ‘Why can’t you be more like your sister?’
4) He sometimes hated her.
5) When he got better at school and people stopped comparing them.
Ella, sister, was born with big blue eyes and golden curls. She looked like an angel, and she behaved like one too. This was not good news for me. I was an energetic, noisy child. I wasn’t particularly naughty – I was just a typical boy. But anyone would seem naughty compared to sister! All I heard was ‘Why can’t you be more like your sister?’ and I hated it – and I hated her sometimes. It wasn’t her fault, of course. She was lovely and she adored me, but sometimes I pushed her away. Later, when I got better at school, things improved and we became good friends. People stopped comparing us then. She’s still lovely and she still adores me, but now I think she’s great too!
2. Match the features of fast speech (a-c) with examples 1-3.
a Tell everybody sounds like Tell leverybody.
b That’s ___ sounds like Thas ___
c So early sounds like so wearly; uncle sounds like yuncle
1) Consonants are sometimes inserted between two vowel sounds.
2) Consonant sounds at the end of words run into a following vowel sound.
3) Sounds, usually consonants, sometimes disappear.
1) c 2) a 3) b
3. Listen to the sentences from the text. Write down one or two features of fast speech that you hear in each.
1) sister was born with big, blue eyes ___
2) She looked like an angel.
3) This was not good news for me.
4) Sometimes I pushed her away.
5) Later, when I got better at school ___
6) Now I think she’s great too.
1) sister was born with big, blue (w)eyes. 1
2) She looked like (k)an (n)angel. 2
3) This was no(t) good news for me. 3
4) Sometimes I pushed her (r)away. 3
5) Later, when I go(t) better. 4
6) Now I thin(k) she’s grea(t) too. 3
1) sister was born with big, blue (w)eyes.
2) She looked like (k)an (n)angel.
3) This was no(t) good news for me.
4) Sometimes I pushed her (r)away.
5) Later, when I go(t) better at school ___
6) Now I thin(k) she’s grea(t) too.
4. Listen again and repeat. Try to copy the pronunciation.
See exercise 3.
5. Listen to two dialogues and a monologue. Choose the correct answer (a-c).
1) How does the first dialogue end?
a The speakers refuse to listen to each other’s point of view.
b The speakers eventually come to an acknowledgment of each other’s viewpoints.
c The speakers decide that the disagreement can’t be resolved.
2) What caused the speaker of the monologue to feel happier during her childhood?
a Her parents had triplets.
b A relative moved in with them.
c Her brothers spent more time playing with her.
3) In the second dialogue, what do Linda and Cathy tell the interview?
a How their parents’ divorce affected them emotionally.
b How Cathy continually annoyed Linda.
c What the main cause of problems between them was.
1) b 2) b 3) c
Jake I don’t think you should hang out with Luke so much, Sam. He’s not a nice guy and I don’t think he’s a good friend to have.
Sam Luke’s fun! Why are you always commenting on friends? You don’t like any of them!
Jake That’s not true! I like Jonathan and Charlie.
Sam That’s because they’re your friends too! Why can’t I have some of own friends?
Jake You can and you do! Plenty of them. But I just think Luke’s a bit of a bad influence on you. He’ll get you into trouble very soon.
Sam You’re always acting the older brother and it’s so annoying.
Jake That’s cos I am the older brother and I’m looking out for you!
Sam Well, thanks, but I don’t need it. I’m old enough to make own decisions now and I can choose own friends.
Jake Fine, whatever. Look, I’m just warning you. Have some sense. Be careful and don’t go along with all of Luke’s stupid ideas.
Sam OK, OK. I know what you mean. He does do some stupid things, but I don’t think he’s bad, just silly. He makes me laugh.
Jake OK, fine, maybe he’s OK. But you look after him, then. Sounds like he needs it!
I’m one of six and I had the bad luck to be born in the middle. I’ve got two much older brothers who were born only a year apart and have always been best friends. And I have two younger brothers and a sister, and they’re triplets! You can imagine what mum thought when the doctor told her the news! I was two and a half when the triplets were born and I think it was a real problem for me. I was still just a baby self. poor mum and dad tried to spend time with me, but they were exhausted looking after the triplets. And brothers were usually somewhere else doing something I couldn’t do. It’s not that they didn’t like me, they were just doing their own thing. So I was really happy when grandma came to live with us. She became second mum and did everything with me that mum wasn’t able to do. Grandma was the one who taught me how to ride a bike, tie shoelaces, and took me to school on the first day – that sort of thing. We’re so close now, I don’t know what I’d do without her.
Interviewer What was it like with you girls as teenagers? Did you get along?
Linda Well, not all the time, isn’t that right, Cathy?
Cathy That’s right, Linda. We’ve always been close and we got on well as children, but we had problems when it came to sharing a room!
Linda Yes! When our parents divorced, we went to live in a smaller house with our mum and we had to share a bedroom again.
Cathy I was seventeen and Linda was fifteen and we had a lot of stuff for one small room.
Linda You had a lot of stuff, Cathy! And you never put it away!
Cathy It’s true that I wasn’t particularly tidy then.
Linda You were extremely messy!!!
Cathy True. And I didn’t realise how messy I was and how much it bothered little sister, until one day I was sunbathing in the back garden and all clothes came floating out of the upstairs window.
Linda Yes, I’m afraid I threw all sister’s things that were on the floor out of the window. The garden was covered with them!
Cathy I ran upstairs and we had an argument, but I did try to be tidier after that.
Linda You did. And the funny thing is, that when we studied at university, we chose to share a flat together! And you’re quite tidy now, aren’t you?
Cathy Yep, fortunately I’ve improved since then!
6. Listen and write the sentences from the listening.
1) You’re always acting the yolder brother and i(t)’s so annoying.
2) That’s cos I yam the yolder brother ran I’m looking ou(t) for you.
3) You can nimagine wha(t) mum though(t) when the doctor told her the news!
4) I was two wand da half when the triplets were born an I think i(t) was a real problem for me.
5) One day yI was sunbathing gin the ba(ck) garden nand dall clothes came floating gout tof the yupstairs window.
6) I ran nupstairs and we had dan nargument, but tI did try to be tidier rafter that.
7. How are the sentences in exercise 6 spoken? Mark the features of fast speech from exercise 2. Then listen again and check. Practise saying the sentences.