Hey there! This is TOP episode 65: This Year. Pronunciation Tip. 

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. This podcast is for you if you want to start speaking English fearlessly. I help people fight the fear of speaking, become confident, fluent and independent. I have eliminated a massive language blockade myself and I teach others how to achieve that.

In this episode, you’ll practise speaking and in turn boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar and improve your pronunciation. Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello and welcome back to Teacher Ola Podcast. I hope you’re doing fine. And thank you so much for choosing this podcast. I know how many options you’ve had and the thought that you picked this show makes me really excited and proud. Let me give a quick shout out to TOPeople.  TOPeople are listening to this podcast regularly and receive beautiful letters from me every week. In those letters, I inform them about new episodes and I teach something small. I am also working on a new project, and as soon as it’s ready I’ll let you know in the newsletter. 

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Ok my friend, let’s not waste any of your precious time. And let’s get down to business. 

Today’s episode is about pronunciation obviously. We’re focusing on the assimilation of sounds /s/ and /j/. How to pronounce two words if one of them ends with the /s/ sound and the next one begins with the /j/ sound.  

Listen, time for the meat and potatoes of this episode. If one word ends with the /s/ sound and the next word coming right after begins with the /j/ sound we don’t pronounce any of these sounds. I mean you can pronounce them, and that’s a-ok but please be aware that other users of the English language won’t do that. That means you might not understand them. That might build your barrier even higher. I don’t understand, that means I can’t speak. If I don’t understand I cannot be correct, right? Misunderstanding and lack of understanding is a great obstacle for communication. Let’s try to fix it. 

Assimilation. The sounds we produce want to become similar. It’s a natural process, and I know many teachers do not teach that because it’s a natural process. It doesn’t have to be taught since it’ll occur spontaneously.  It occurs across many languages also Polish and the mechanism is the same.

And I disagree. I know we have the same or similar processes when it comes to pronunciation but the moment it starts to occur by reflex will take some time. Like a lot of time. Only when you’re fluent. But what if you’re not fluent yet? What if you just don’t understand people speaking fast for the sake of not understanding connected speech and assimilation? Let’s eliminate that little blockade and move on! 

‘This year’. The word ‘this’ ends with the sound /s/ and the word ‘year’ begins with the /j/ sound. This is exactly what we’re dealing with today. ‘This year’. Sounds ok. But when you’re speaking fast the sound /s/ in ‘this’ and /j/ in ‘year’ blend, if you will. ‘this year, this year, this year, this year’. Wow, did you hear that? What’s the sound you can hear there? I can’t hear you now but I’m sure you’ve said the /ʃ/ sound and you’re right! ‘This year’ /ʃ/. I love this assimilation! Whenever I hear it it reminds me of times I had no idea what is this /ʃ/ sound is. Why do I hear ‘this year’? It should be ‘this year’. Well, I hope I helped a bit and your understanding of spoken English will improve. 

When it comes to speaking on your own, try not to force it. It’s easy to make it all sound very weird, fake, unnatural. Keep in mind it exists, make sure you notice the /ʃ/ sound next time you watch your favourite show. Should you use it while speaking? Absolutely yes! It’ll make you sound natural. Is it necessary? Absolutely not! Your message will come across without it. Nevertheless, it’s always good to practice and improve, right? 

Time for some practice. Let’s get ready. Focus, listen, try to keep I mean retain those sentences in your brain for a while and then say them out loud. As always.

This year we’re experiencing a lot of challenges.

Bless you!

This yacht is beautiful. 

Yes, you can.

She always makes you feel good.

This yoga practice will help you cope with your anxiety.

This younger daughter.

This university has great exchange programs.

It’s a very serious union.

He makes Ukraine look different.

Of course, you will!

I say this is enough. I know we normally have more examples to practice, but this time I don’t want you to cross the line, you know? Overpractice the /ʃ/ sound again. 

OK! You’ve done a lot today, you’ve learned something that is never taught anywhere. Correct me if I’m wrong. Has anyone taught you that before? I’m just curious. 

Now. Your homework. Of course, there’s homework. Even two. The first is to open your mind and opes your ears for this assimilation. Stay alert try to catch the /ʃ/ sound. Maybe you have contact with speakers of English. Maybe it’s just watching tv series, or films, or listening to music. Whatever it is, listen carefully. 

The second homework is a pdf file ready to be downloaded at teacheroa.com/65. Your task there is to translate Polish sentences into English. All the sentences appeared in this episode, you’ve even practised them out loud. Now try to rebuild them, use your memory and good luck. The worksheet is available at teacherola.com/65. Teacherola.com/65.

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Be here next Wednesday, because we’re going to learn some vocabulary. We’ll be talking about demonstrations and protests. Subscribe to this podcast if you haven’t yet. And I’ll see you next Wednesday. Goodbye! Happy learning.