Lesson #1: Planning events, with Lisa

Meet my little sister, Lisa! She teaches bellydance in the USA. In the video, we just finished a dance class and we’re talking about an event she’s planning.

It’s a big bellydance event called The Hard Raq (pronounced like “Hard Rock”, yes, like the chain of restaurants). You’ll hear about how the planning is going.


Spontaneous conversation

Start by watching the video and doing the comprehension questions on the downloadable worksheet.

You can check your answers with the correction at the end of the worksheet.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at first. This lesson will help you!

 Video lesson

As you already know, natural spoken English and written English are very different. To understand more easily, it helps to understand how sounds are transformed in spoken English.

This video lesson explains “the schwa”, a very weak sound. It’s the reason why it sounds like Americans don’t articulate! And 30% of the sounds in English are schwa sounds, so it’s essential for understanding!

Watch the video lesson.
You can download the slides and take notes on them.

Chunks in context

To understand native speakers easily, it’s important to quickly recognize chunks. Chunks are expressions that we use often. They can be short (2 words) or longer. The important thing is to recognize the sounds.

For this activity, download the worksheet “Chunks in Context” below.
Then, listen to each extract and complete the corresponding conversation on the worksheet.

You can check your answers with the correction at the end of the worksheet.

Extract #1

Extract #2

Extract #3

Fast connected speech

In the previous activity, the context could help you understand the chunks. But can you catch the chunks without any context? You only have the sounds to help you!

For this activity, download the worksheet “Connected speech” below.
Then, listen to each sentence and try to write what you hear.You’ll hear each sentence twice.

I’ll warn you, sometimes they’re fast, and sometimes both people talk at the same time...just like in real conversation.

If you need to listen several times, that’s ok. This is a challenging exercise to boost your comprehension skills!

You can check your answers with the correction at the end of the worksheet.

Full audio

Sentence #1

Sentence #2

Sentence #3

Sentence #4

Sentence #5

Sentence #6

Pronunciation practice

I always say that comprehension and pronunciation are “two sides of the same coin.” This means that improving your comprehension also helps you improve your pronunciation, with just a little extra attention.

In this activity, you hear common chunks spoken at slow (but still natural) speed and at normal speed for Americans.

With the slow extract: listen and repeat. Pay attention to the accentuation and the intonation.
With the normal extract: listen to train your ear to recognize the sounds easily. If you want a fun challenge, try to repeat it at the same speed! Good luck!

“Sentence #1, slow:”

“Sentence #1, normal:”

How's your preparation for your Hard Raq thing coming?

“Sentence #2, slow:”

“Sentence #2, normal:”

I have to work too, ....

“Sentence #3, slow:”

“Sentence #3, normal:”

Who's going to go pick them up?

“Sentence #4, slow:”

“Sentence #4, normal:”

Are they all flying into New Orleans?

“Sentence #5, slow:”

“Sentence #5, normal:”

So then Paul was going to pick them up

“Sentence #6, slow:”

“Sentence #6, normal:”

I think we got it figured out that Seisha can go get them
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