Join Steve on Facebook!

Learn English Live

How to Learn Prepositions - Learn English Live 28 with Steve Ford

Hello! Hello! Hello here is a great lesson to help you with prepositions.....

Prepositions are every English learner's nightmare. I know that for a fact. One of the dangerous things is if you continue using the same incorrect preposition over and over again, it becomes a hard habit to break. Well, I hope my lesson today will help you to understand prepositions so that you can use the right one the next time you speak with someone in English.

Do you know the difference between: I am at the bank and I am in the bank. For many English learners, they are the same, but as you will see in my lesson they are not. When you are at the bank, you could be in front of the bank outside or you could be inside. "At", in this case is a preposition of general location while "in" means you are physically inside the bank. So be careful!

You may laugh looking at the picture above where you can see a man sitting "on" his desk, but I have seen many English learners make the mistake of saying, "I am sitting on my desk". Really you need to say, "I am sitting at my desk. Of course you can sit on your desk or maybe if you have a cat or small dog, they could sit on your desk while you sit at your desk. 

A The two mistakes with prepositions are very common among English learners. I hear these two a lot and wanted to share this tip with you. We actually say, "ask you" and "explain to you". The reason for so many people making these two mistakes is simple: English learners do use some kind of preposition in their own language when using these words. So it is a hard habit to break, but I hope my lesson will help you to understand how to use these better.

The mistake in the picture above is another common one. We do NOT need "to" after should, could, might, may, can. So you would not say: I should to go, just I should go. Because I speak other languages, I know for a fact the reason is that in many other languages you can use the infinitive "to go" immediately after "should". However, in English we must use what we call the simple or base form of the verb "go". It can become a bad habit so please do watch my lesson to have a better idea.


How to Speak American vs. British English - Learn English Live 27


Are you confused about what an American accent is or what a British accent is? You are certainly not alone because I hear this question every day. Is the typical American accent like a cowboy from Texas? Does everybody who is British talk like the Queen of England? The answer is: of course not! Accents across North America and the U.K. vary considerably and I am here to show you some of the major differences using specific words as examples.

Can you say the two words shown in the picture above? Have you ever asked yourself which accent you are using? British? American? A mix of both? As I say in my lesson, the Americans and Canadians tend to pronounce these two words with an "AH". That goes for other words like saw, raw and law. We can compare this "AH" sound to the typical British "oh" sound as in coke, joke and broke. If you still have doubts, please refer to this part of my lesson .

Hearing the different between these two words is extremely difficult, but not impossible in American English. The reason, as I explain my lesson is that Americans tend to pronounce "an" and en" with a more nasal sound. On the other hand, the British have a more open vowel sound for "a" and the "n" sound is also softer. I really suggest you refer to this part of the lesson as you need to hear and see how I position my mouth to get a complete idea on the difference. 

A lot of English learners have told me that they find British English sometimes easier to understand because the British tend to pronounce their t's. That is true to some degree, however, it really depends. As you will see in my lesson, there are some British and of course American speakers who both leave out the t's in words like "butter" or "better". One considerable difference is that Americans most often will pronounce "butter" as "budder" and "better" as "bedder".

So here is a fun sentence you can try to use to practice your t's. In my lesson I give you a fun pronunciation workout at slow, medium and fast speeds.


Speak English faster - Learn English Live 26 with Steve Ford

This week I have a great question from an online English learner from Vietnam about pronunciation. I hear from students all of the time that they can't either understand when Hollywood actors are speaking in a movie, or they can't even imagine trying to talk the same way. There are a few reasons which I will touch on in my video lesson.

Have you ever wondered why you can understand your English teacher, but you can't understand when you watch Hollywood movies? This is very common and the reason is that some teachers simply are used to speaking at a slower speed pronouncing every single word they say. This becomes a habit for many teachers since they may be teaching people at different levels of English. So you as an English learner need to know how to jump from teacherese to the way English is really spoken .

D + Y = J , come again? Is that some crazy mathematical formula or something? No, it's a great way to know how native speakers link words together when they are speaking. So for example, "Did you" becomes "diju" when spoken quickly in English. There are many more examples in my lesson.

So here is another example of how native speakers link letters together to make an entirely different new sound. If you can at least learn that these sounds exist, it will be of tremendous help to you when listening to native speakers. For example, is your mother there? So in this example when the last letter of the preceding word is "s" and the first letter of the following word is "y", native speakers pronounce it zh. If that is still difficult to understand, I suggest you watch my lesson again with the examples I use. 

I have many students who have problems saying phone numbers and also listening to them over the phone. One of the main reasons for this is once again: native speakers link the words together which often makes the original words seem unrecognizable. In the picture above you can see written out how the numbers actually sound when spoken quickly.