The Memorable Response

The response is more memorable.

The mistake, the business mistake - whatever it is - may be annoying and irritating, though not catastrophic. It may even be a blunder, though still not catastrophic. It could even be neglectful incompetence. Even that might not be catastrophic, though worse and more significant than a mistake or a blunder.

The mistake and the blunder, or the loss caused by neglectful incompetence, may not be what really matters. It's the response to the mistake and the blunder, or the neglectful incompetence, that matters. It's acknowledging and openly taking responsibility for the mistake, the blunder, or the neglectful incompetence that matters.

Whether we are providers or customers, whether we are sellers or buyers, whether we are internal service providers and customers or external service providers and customers, how we respond is important and may be all that matters. 

What we say, and do, to acknowledge what happened is important. Do not pretend that it's all good when you know that it's not, do not diminish the importance of anything, do not ignore it, and do not speak as if it did not happen. If it's serious, then speak about it as though it is. Get it out in the open, put it on the table, be truthful, and openly recognize whatever it is that happened. Everyone says what they should say and do or need to say and do, Then move on. 

More memorable than the mistake, blunder, or neglectful incompetence is the response to it and what we do about it. 

It's coming forward with a way to compensate for the mistake, the blunder, or loss in time and money caused by the neglectful incompetence that matters. 

The response to the mistake, blunder, or neglectful incompetence is much more memorable than the mistake, blunder, or neglectful incompetence itself - in business. 

The response is more important. The response is more memorable.

At Out Up at Work

Here are a few questions someone asked me about speaking at work.

1) What can I say if someone criticizes something I've done? What can I say if someone asks me to check my work?

Here are a few possibilities.

A) Okay, I'll take another look at it.
B) You're right. I'll review it again.
C) Okay, I'll check that out again.
D) Okay, I'll check it out again.
E) Okay, I'll check it again.
F) Okay, I'll check that again.

2) What's the difference between "check" and "check out" in this context?

The choice depends on the speaker's viewpoint.

Check and Check out

Check - Use "check" to find out if a correction is necessary, to look at something that does not involve a process or some type of extended time, or to check one item or a series of items one item at a time. If you "check" something, it could mean taking a quick look at it or, depending on what you're checking, it could take longer.

Check out - Use "check out" when speaking of something that involves more observation or that takes longer to do.

Note that "check" and "check out" can be used interchangeably. The choice depends on the speaker's viewpoint.

Examples

A) Can you check this for me, please? - Is there anything wrong with it? Tell me if there's anything wrong with it.
B) Check this out. - Look at it and observe it. And maybe respond in some way.

3) What's the difference between "clean" and "clean up"?

Clean and Clean up

The choice depends on the speaker's viewpoint.

Clean up - This is less specific and usually refers to a whole activity. Here's an example: Let's clean up the lab.

Clean - This is usually more restrictive. I'm going to clean the refrigerator.

Use "clean up" after you use the kitchen to do a lot of cooking and it's a mess. You could say Let's clean up the kitchen.

Using "up" indicates or implies completeness and that the process could be longer or extended in some way.

Note that "clean" and "clean up" could be used interchangeably. It depends on the context. The choice depends on the speaker's viewpoint.

4) What's the difference between "see you later" and "see you later on"?

See you later and See you later on

The choice depends on the speaker's viewpoint.

See you later. - This could mean today or at some other time after today.
See you later on. - Using "on" indicates a progression of time. This could mean today or some other time after today.

Note that "see you later" and "see you later on" can easily be used interchangeably. The choice depends on the speaker's viewpoint. Though it could be that one is more likely or more usual in certain sentences or contexts, it's difficult to come up with specific guidelines for this.

Examples

1. Arriving in morning:

See you later on. The day is not finished. This could mean you're going to see the person at a meeting or before the day is finished.

2. Going home in the afternoon:

See you later. No time is specified. The day is finished. This likely means "see you tomorrow or the next workday".

English Loanwords - Pronunciation and Vocabulary

At the request of one of my accent reduction clients, I compiled a list of English loanwords. These words are from other languages and are common in English. Most native speakers of English will be familiar with these words. Here's a link to the list:

Loanwords 
Some non-native speakers of English might not know how to pronounce loanwords, and some non-native speakers of English might not know what they mean, which is why I label them as a topic for both pronunciation accent and vocabulary and expressions.

Mandy Egle of the Seattle Learning Academy features some of the loanwords on this list in a podcast at Pronuncian.

194: faux pas, chauffeur, fiance, and more

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 194th episode.

I was talking to my friend Steve from englishwithimpact.com last week and he was kind enough to share a list of loanwords...

Here are some of the loanwords on this list with the spelling from the International Phonetic Alphabet.

amateur /ˈæm ə ʧʊr/
bouquet /bu ˈkeɪ/ (or /boʊ ˈkeɪ/)
debris /də ˈbri/
debut /ˈdeɪb ju/
faux pas /ˌfoʊ ˈpɑ/
fiance /ˌfi ɑn ˈseɪ/
genre /ˈʒɑn rə/
liaison /li ˈeɪz ən/ *
motif /moʊ ˈtif/
resume /ˈrɛz ə meɪ/
sabotage /ˈsæb ə tɑʒ/
silhouette /ˌsɪl u ˈɛt/
venue /ˈvɛn ju/
encore /ˈɑn kɔr/
chauffeur /ʃoʊ ˈfɚ/

Maybe, "parmesan" is just a cheesy version of "parmagiano-reggiano".

What's the difference between "parmesan" and "parmagiano"?

So, Does "Imitation" Parmesan Taste Good?

A cheese labeled as Parmesan in the US that is not genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano still can be a tasty cheese. Many artisanal cheesemakers are making high-quality cheeses that are inspired by Parmigiano-Reggiano. Many large cheese producers sell decent Parmesan. Is the flavor as complex as genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano? You be the judge. Buy both and taste them side by side.

http://cheese.about.com/od/cheesebasics/f/parm_parmigiano.htm

How to succeed at an employment interview

Ten tips to succeed at a job Interview


The purpose of an employment interview, or a job interview, is for you to convince an employer to hire you. To do this, you have to tell an employer how the company will benefit from hiring you. Your cover letter and résumé are marketing documents. The employment interview, or job interview, is your sales call, and you have to be convincing.

1) Speak with confidence about yourself. Speak in a way that sounds as though you are 100% certain of what you say. Do not use weak phrases if you want to come across as confident and competent. For example, do not describe your ability to do anything as “pretty good”. This sounds weak. I would, also, steer clear of using “try”. Don’t talk about what you tried to do, have tried to do, or try to do. Talk about what you did, have done, and do.

2) Do not use uptalk. Speaking with uptalk means that you make your statements sound as if you were asking a yes-no question. This does not communicate confidence to the interviewer. Intonation for yes-no questions rises in a certain way, but it should not rise in this way for statements. Uptalk makes it sound like you are asking a question, not making a statement. Your statements have to sound certain. Speak with certainty.

3) Do not talk about something that is expected of you as if it were special or as if it were a strength. For example, being reliable, or dependable, is not special and it is not a strength. Do not say something like, “I’m hard-working”. Anyone and everyone would say that, and it’s something that an employer expects you to be in the first place. Being a team player is something an employer expects you to be. So instead of just saying “I’m a team player”, you should provide examples that demonstrate that you are a team player. Tell a story about a time that you worked with others as a team to accomplish something or solve a problem.

4) Do not repeat what’s on your résumé in reply to questions or speaking prompts. However, keep in mind that the interviewer might ask you about specific information on your résumé, so be able to talk about what’s on your résumé. If you use information on your résumé as a reply to a question or a speaking prompt, provide more information or expand on it in some way. For example, if on your resume, you included something like, “created a more efficient customer service process”, you should tell about how you did this. Provide specific information to explain how you “created a more efficient customer service process”. Don’t limit your replies to only the information that is on your résumé.

5) Be prepared to tell stories. Tell stories about how you solved problems. Tell stories about how you reached an objective or achieved a goal. Tell stories about how you succeeded in doing something or accomplishing something. People refer to these types of stories as vignettes. Organize your information, and practice being direct and to the point.

6) Do not start your reply to a question or a speaking prompt with filler words or phrases that lack substance. Here are some examples of the types of phrases I would avoid: that’s a good question; that’s an interesting question; yes, I can tell you a lot about that; I’m interested in. Those are just a few examples, and there would be more, but I think you get the idea. Whether you're interviewing to work as a consultant, to be a marketing manager, to enter an MBA program, or to be accepted to medical school, do not use phrases that lack substance. When you reply to a question or a speaking prompt, start with something that provides information that the interviewer wants to know.

7) Be prepared to support everything you say with examples and reasons. If you cannot "explain why" or "explain how", don’t say it.

8) Be sure that your enthusiasm and your passion for what you do or want to do come through when you speak. This does not mean that everything you say must be dramatic or filed with emotion, but it does mean that you are not simply conveying information. It does not mean that you have to make people believe what you are saying. It DOES mean, however, that people have to believe that YOU believe what you are saying. You have to come across as sincere and genuine.

9) A manager or a company will hire you for what you know. Do not be timid or shy about telling people that you know something. Don’t talk about what you know as if it were an opinion. Tell the interviewer what you know, not what you “think you know”. However, if you are truly answering an opinion question, here are some phrases you can use to start your reply: In my opinion; I think that; I believe that; I would say that; as I see it; the way I see it. Still, remember that if you are speaking about what you know, do not start with phrases like these. A manager will hire you because of what you know, can do, and will do. A manager employs you because you are confident, certain, and sure of yourself in every way. You are skilled and knowledgeable. However, you have to come across as a self-assured and confident person.

10) The key to succeeding at an employment interview is to be able to speak confidently and competently about your work and your experience in as many ways as you can. You have to be aware of your experience, skills, and knowledge, and you have to be excellent at talking about them. An employment interview is a conversation about you: your experience, skills, and knowledge. And you do most of the talking at an employment interview. Finally, to succeed at an employment interview, or a job interview, and get the position that you want, you have to practice, practice, and practice.

Schwa Vowel in Con Com

Some vowels in English are neutralized, or they become schwa vowels. This is an important point for English pronunciation and accent. Using schwa vowel sounds helps with accent reduction or accent modification.



Con Com Prefixes 

In these words that begin with “con” and “com”, the /o/ is neutralized, or it is schwa. The syllable that follows “con” and “com” in these words receives stress. For example “contain” is pronounced “cəntain” and “compare is pronounced “cəmpare”.

Con

1. contain 2. conserve 3. condition 4. condone 5. concern 6. concede 7. conceit
8. conceal 9. connect 10. conduct 11. confirm 12. conform 13. confront 14. consent 15. consume 16. construct 17. construction 18. consumer 19. continue 20. convince
21. condition 22. conclude 23. consider 24. control 25. concise 26. convention 27. convenient 28. contribute 29. conventional

Com

1. compare 2. commission 3. combine 4. commit 5. command 6. compile 7. computer
8. commend 9. complete 10. compatible 11. compassion 12. compete 13. complaint
14. communicate 15. community 16. companion 17. compress 18. compression


Writing classes do not solve your problem

I'd like to clue you in on something. I know it's disappointing, and most people probably don't want to hear it. But the truth is that writing classes don't work. Here's why.
  1. Everyone's writing ability is different. 
  2. Everyone has a different purpose in writing. 
  3. Everyone makes different mistakes in writing. 
  4. Everyone's understanding of the English language is different. 
  5. Writing often needs revisions, not corrections, and because of this, everyone needs to improve their writing skills in different ways. 
You might ask about mistakes. What kind of mistakes could there be? Do you mean grammar mistakes? What is a mistake anyway? What is an error? Well, mistakes aren't really the problem. The problem is writing, and here are some problems with writing:

Writing might have grammatical errors. Much of the time grammar errors are the easiest part of writing skills to deal with because they are easy to identify and isolate. You can refer to a grammar error by name. Grammar forms are more concrete because they represent identifiable patterns: someone can always explain grammar forms. Quite often, grammar is what people think about when it comes to improving writing skills. But grammar is easier to deal with than other writing problems because, unlike grammar, other writing problems do not represent identifiable patterns. So if grammar is not the real problem, then what is?

A sentence or a phrase may be correct, but it might not mean what you want it to mean. Now, if a sentence doesn't mean what you want it to mean, people can, often, still understand what you mean to say. But you should understand that they're being cooperative by not misinterpreting your sentence. Also, it could be that they don't recognize the other meaning: the meaning you did not intend for the sentence. Still, isn't it better to write sentences that mean what you want them to mean?

Here's something that's really difficult to work with sometimes. It's not so much that this is difficult to work with, however. The problem is that it's difficult to explain. Sometimes phrases are grammatically correct, but that's all they are: grammatically correct. So what could be wrong with a phrase that's grammatically correct? I mean that despite being correct, a phrase might not communicate a thought or an idea in a way that is typical or usual for English. Phrases can sound strange or awkward at times even when they are correct. Now, if that's not enough to complicate matters, here's something else. Strange or awkward sounding phrases sometimes occur in combination with sentences that are packed with too much information. Please, read the next paragraph.

Sometimes writers try to pack too much information into one sentence, which then makes a sentence difficult to follow and understand. To compound the problem, the phrases and the clauses may all be correct, but, somehow, they just don't go together in a logical way. I refer to this as having to untie a knot, and it's not easy. Sometimes writers have no idea what they're doing or what's going on when it comes to sentences like this. However, some writers might not take the time to really notice and think about what they've typed. You have to read what you've typed and decide whether your thoughts and ideas are connected well. You have to decide whether your sentences really make sense and whether they mean what you want them to mean. After assessing your writing, you have to make it better. It could be that you have to fix it. Taking these steps may not be easy. However, you need to take them, or you just might be forever in need of someone to revise, correct, and edit your writing. A good writing tutor will tell you what you need to do and will tell you the steps you have to take to improve your writing skills. Your progress depends on this. Maybe, "tutor" is not the right word. Maybe, writing guide, writing coach, writing consultant, or writing advisor are better words for this.

What about punctuation and capitalization? Some writers seem not to care much for paying attention to punctuation and capitalization. This can, however, be deadly. Before you click "send", check your email for punctuation and capitalization. Do you know how unprofessional your business emails look when you ignore proper punctuation and capitalization? You don't? Well, that makes two of us. I don't know either. But I'll bet the people who receive your business emails know. Maybe, it's best to talk to them about this to get an idea of just how unprofessional business emails can look when there are some very basic mistakes in punctuation and capitalization. You know that this is something that usually just requires writers to proofread: it takes a little more time, a little more effort, and some thought. Maybe, writers should just be a little more careful about punctuation and capitalization. It's well within their grasp to do so, and the readers probably see it that way, too. By the way, do you know who reads your business emails? Of course, people send email, and they forward email. They copy people on email, too.

What about register? Have you heard of that? Register refers to how formal or informal language is. It has to do with how serious or casual language is. Register refers to how you speak to the person who reads your communication. Remember that being too formal could make a writer (a person) seem, to some degree, unapproachable or too distant. Then again, communicating in a way that is too informal could cause a minor offense. Writers have to be aware of who their readers are. Writers have to be sure that they understand the people who read their writing, and this means that writers have to speak to their readers in the right way. After all, no one wants to be too formal, too informal, too serious, too casual, too direct, or too indirect.

It's important to use the right degree of politeness. For example, if you need someone to complete a task, it could be better to, somehow, tell the person to do it, or it could be better to ask the person to do it. Or maybe a combination of telling and asking is better. How direct should you be when speaking to someone in a business email? When you write to someone, you are really speaking. How much force should you use to make the reader understand what you mean to say? It could be that the answers to these questions are not that complicated. Still, each situation is different, and each writer is different.

Here are some comments on this idea from Rod Mitchell.

"In written language, there is always going to be the difficulty of understanding language in the same way we understand spoken language - paper just does not give us the other cues (intonation, tone of voice, emphasis) - though it can give us another important clue - context.

It is amazing how well we can predict tone of voice from the context built up in a written context. Or maybe not really that amazing, but simply a product of our automatic desire to transfer the written word to the spoken understanding - to read context into words on paper." Rod Mitchell - linguist/EFL teacher/teacher trainer/Director of Studies

So what I would ask is this: Can you be sure that you don't write anything that someone might transfer to an understanding of spoken language in a way that you do not intend? Simply put, are you sure that no one will take something you write the wrong way?

This sort of thing might come up from time to time, and I might find myself saying something like this: Look, I don't know the relationship you have with the people you work with, but this "phrase" could be taken the wrong way. Maybe, it's a good idea to change it, and then again, maybe, it's not. Does your question sound as though it has a tinge of impatience to it? Are you making a request, or are you telling someone to do something? Maybe, it's a combination of both. How forceful, or strong, do you think your language should be in order to be clear about what you want to say?

So grammar does not rank high all the time. It's better to not offend even just a little than to watch out for every preposition or every article (the, a, or an). Still, of course, grammar is important. Good communication is about balancing perspective and taking everything together.

Writers must know what is important. And this does not mean, for example, that writers should be concerned about splitting infinitives. Yes, I'm well aware that, to some people, I've made a serious error by splitting infinitives in this article. Let me assure you that the so-called "split infinitive" is not an error. At least, read the usage note in the American Heritage Dictionary so that you can have a balanced viewpoint regarding the idea of the so-called "split infinitive".  Now, then, if your writing tutor is paying too much attention to so-called "split infinitives" and not giving enough attention to more important matters about your writing, that could be bad news. Has anyone ever told you to not split infinitives? Well, either way, that's not really the bad news.

The bad news is that writing is not always easy to deal with. In fact, it can be downright difficult to deal with. The good news is that people who want to improve their writing can, in fact, improve their writing, and they should improve their writing. It's just that a writing class with six to twelve other writers in it might not be the best way to go about doing it. People who want to, and have to, improve their professional writing skills need one-to-one professional training to make it happen.

Is your writing tutor overly aggressive about the passive?

Have you ever heard anyone say, "Do not use passive voice"? If you think this merited any real attention, I recommend thinking again. In the US, I think the anti-passive voice sentiment gained some of its momentum from a popular book called the Elements of Style. In the article, "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice", the author, Geoffrey K. Pullum, tells about the reference to passive voice in this popular book.
"Use the active voice" is a typical section head. And the section in question opens with an attempt to discredit passive clauses that is either grammatically misguided or disingenuous." 
"Strunk and White are denigrating the passive by presenting an invented example of it deliberately designed to sound inept."
Still, it's important to maintain a balanced perspective. Here's what I mean: I have seen writing in which people use a passive voice sentence when it really seems that an active voice sentence is better. In such cases, an active voice sentence is better because a passive voice sentence seems to, somehow, make the writing, or the communication, less effective. With this in mind, I should say that I recall reading formal business email writing in which the writer used passive voice so many times that the writing seemed, at least, a little strange. I brought this to the writer's attention, and while the writer agreed that the use of passive voice was excessive, the writer, also, said that this is a regular way of communicating at the company because, at the company, sometimes it's not good to say "who does what" or "who did what", especially if whatever someone did seems not to have been the best thing to do. So she was compelled to use passive voice more often than should have been necessary so as to not draw attention to individuals. This, of course, is an artificial use of passive voice, and such use is brought about by people having to be careful about what they say and how they say it.

"So she was compelled to use passive voice more often than should have been necessary so as to not draw attention to individuals."

There's nothing wrong with using passive voice in the above sentence even though it's possible to use active voice. The reason passive voice comes about is that there seems to not be a way to identify "who compels her" or "who does the compelling". The circumstance compels her. The circumstance does the compelling, and that's abstract. People do the compelling, also, but there's no way to really identify specific individuals who compel someone to use passive voice. Therefore, it easily, and without any thought, occurs to me to use passive voice in that sentence, and there's nothing wrong with it at all. Just the same, here's the same sentence with active voice, but it just does not seem to have the same effect as passive voice, which, in this sentence, is better.

"So the circumstance compelled her to use passive voice more often than should have been necessary so as to not draw attention to individuals."

Starting in paragraph seven of "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice", the author, Geoffrey K. Pullum, tells about the reference to passive voice in the popular book, The Elements of Style.
"Use the active voice" is a typical section head. And the section in question opens with an attempt to discredit passive clauses that is either grammatically misguided or disingenuous." 
"Strunk and White are denigrating the passive by presenting an invented example of it deliberately designed to sound inept."
"They give good examples to show that the choice between active and passive may depend on the topic under discussion."
"Sadly, writing tutors tend to ignore this moderation, and simply red-circle everything that looks like a passive, just as Microsoft Word's grammar checker underlines every passive in wavy green to signal that you should try to get rid of it. That overinterpretation is part of the damage that Strunk and White have unintentionally done."
Remember that there's nothing wrong with using passive voice. You just have to use it when it's appropriate and logical to do so.

Passive Voice Definition

English TH Sounds for Accent Reduction and Pronunciation

Make the TH sound by placing your tongue between your teeth. Your tongue should be under your top teeth. Your tongue, near the tip, should be touching the bottom of your top teeth but not pressed against them.

There are two TH sounds: Voiced TH and Unvoiced TH.
  • Unvoiced TH
  • With unvoiced TH, there is no vibration between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth when you make this sound. 
  • Here’s the unvoiced TH sound: TH - Ɵ. Here’s a word with unvoiced TH: Thoughtful

  • Voiced TH
  • With voiced TH, there is a vibration between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth when you make this sound. When you make the voiced TH sound, you should feel a vibration between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth.  
  • Here’s the voiced TH sound: TH - ð. Here’s a word with voiced TH: They
___________________________________________________________________________

Unvoiced TH
1. To make the unvoiced TH sound, place your tongue below your top teeth.
2. Your tongue, almost at the tip, should lightly touch the bottom of your top teeth.
3. You should still be able to allow air to pass between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth.
4. While your tongue is touching the bottom of your top teeth, push out air between your tongue and your teeth.

Here’s the unvoiced TH sound: TH - Ɵ. Here’s a word with unvoiced TH: Thoughtful

Note: There should be just a little space between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth. The space between the near tip of your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth should be very slight, with just enough space to allow air to come through. Your tongue touches the bottom of your top teeth very lightly in order to allow air to pass through.

Voiced TH
1. To make the voiced TH sound, place your tongue below your top teeth.
2. Your tongue, almost at the tip, should lightly touch the bottom of your top teeth. For the voiced TH sound, your tongue curls up just a little and touches the bottom of your top teeth just a little bit more than it does for the unvoiced TH sound.
3. You should still be able to allow air to pass between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth.
4. While your tongue is touching the bottom of your top teeth, push out air between your tongue and your teeth. As you push out air to make the sound, you should feel a vibration between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth.

Here’s the voiced TH sound: TH - ð. Here’s a word with voiced TH: They

Note: There should be just a little space between your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth. The space between the near tip of your tongue and the bottom of your top teeth should be very slight, with just enough space to allow air to come through. Your tongue touches the bottom of your top teeth very lightly in order to allow air to pass through.

___________________________________________________________________________

Notes for the TH sound


The voiced TH sound occurs in function words, also known as grammar words or structure words. Here are some examples:

they - them - their - that - though
___________________________________________________________________________

TH Sound Errors – Here are some errors that occur sometimes for TH sounds.

1) Instead of making an unvoiced TH sound, some people might make a T or an S sound. For example, “thought” could sound like “taught” or “sought”.
2) Instead of making a voiced TH sound, some people might make a D or a Z sound. For example, “they” could sound like “dey” or “zey”.

- When making a TH sound, the tongue is between the top and bottom teeth and touching the bottom of the top teeth. Note that TH is called an interdental sound because of this.

- The tongue is not between the teeth for the S sound and the Z sound. For the S sound and the Z sound, the tip of the tongue curls down with the middle part touching the roof of the mouth. The tongue stays in for the S sound and the Z sound, but it moves out a little for the TH sound.

- The tongue is not between the teeth for the T sound and the D sound. For the T sound and the D sound, the tip of the tongue goes just behind the back of the top teeth. The tongue stays in for the T sound and the D sound, but it moves out a little for the TH sound.
___________________________________________________________________________

Practice

Practice making TH sounds in isolation. When you place your tongue below the top teeth, make sure it can be seen. Look in a mirror to observe where your tongue goes in order to make a TH sound. When we speak at normal speed, it’s difficult to see that the tongue is just under the top teeth and that we are pushing air. Looking in a mirror helps you become aware of what you have to do in order to correctly pronounce TH.

Use words with TH in sentences. Write the sentences or type them. Find an article and underline words that have a TH sound. Here are some practice points:

1. Read slowly so that there is no falling back into the habit of making a T or an S sound instead of a unvoiced TH sound.
2. Read slowly so that there is no falling back into the habit of making a D or a Z sound instead of a voiced TH sound.
3. Awareness is key. After learning to make the unvoiced TH sound and the voiced TH sound, thought and focus are required to remember to make the sounds when they occur. Practice slowly to remember to make the TH sound when it occurs.
4. Master the practice of producing the sounds first. If you don’t go slow and master the practice first, it will not be possible, or it will be difficult, to naturally make these sounds when you are speaking. You have to practice.

___________________________________________________________________________

This IPA symbol represents unvoiced TH: Ɵ. This IPA symbol represents voiced TH: ð.

IPA means International Phonetic Alphabet.

Contractions and Schwa

Contractions and schwa let you speak faster and sound more natural in conversation. 

If you're not used to reduction, it's better to practice slowly. Don't go too fast at first.

1) Spoken or written: 
I should not have waited so long. I shouldn't have waited so long.

2) Only spoken, not written: I shouldn't've waited so long.

3) Reduction spoken, not written: How long've yƏ been here?

4) Informal conversation: Use the weak form of you - yƏ - What've yƏ been up to?

5) Written or spoken: How long have you been here?

6) Reduction spoken, not written: How long've yƏ been here?

7) Content words are more prominent: HOW LONG've yƏ BEEN HERE?

8) Informal conversation: Use the weak form of you - yƏ - WHAT've yƏ BEEN UP to?

9) Contrast - yƏ YOU

WHAT've yƏ BEEN UP \\ to? \\
Eh, not too much. WHAT've YOU BEEN UP \\ to? \\

10) Intonation falls at the end of a phrase or sentence: WHAT've yƏ BEEN UP \\ to? \\ 

What does the upside down e mean?

Preposition At


A) Use "at" to indicate that one's vision is fixed upon something.
  1. look at
  2. look back at
  3. glance at
  4. stare at
  5. gaze at
B) Use "at" to indicate precise location within one's field of vision.
  1. point at
  2. aim at
C) Use "at" to show that something is the target of a moving object set forth in motion by a person, equipment, or a machine.
  1. shoot at
  2. fire at
  3. throw at
  4. toss at
  5. hurl at
D) Someone is the target of language that expresses displeasure, annoyance, anger, or some other negative feeling.
  1. shout at
  2. snap at
  3. yell at
  4. swear at  
E) Someone is the target of one’s facial expressions.
  1. laugh at
  2. smile at
  3. wink at
  4. make eyes at
F) The target is what one means to say, express, or indicate.
  1. drive at “something” – mean something – indicate something
  2. get at “something”
  3. hint at
G) A negative idea or thought is a target.
  1. cringe at the thought of “something”
  2. balk at
H) Make something the target of one's movement.
  1. take a swing at “someone”
  2. lunge at
  3. come at “someone” with “something”
  4. run at
I) A correct answer is a target.
  1. take a stab at something – guess
  2. guess at
J) Something is the target of one’s effort.
  1. work at “something”
  2. make an attempt at “something”
  3. try hard at “something
K) Idiomatic expressions
  1. jump at the chance
  2. throw money at “something”
  3. sling mud at “someone”
  4. thumb your nose at “something”
  5. be nothing to sneeze at
  6. chip away at “something”
  7. get at “something”
L) Use "at" to show that someone or something is the target of one's emotion as indicated by an adjective.

Semi-fixed expressions - be + adjective + at “something”
  1. be amazed at “something” or “someone”
  2. be surprised at “something” or “someone”
  3. be angry at “someone” 
M) An activity or something one does is the target of one's degree of skill or proficiency. 
  1. good at "something"
  2. bad at "something" 
  3. excellent at "something"
  4. horrible at "something"
  5. great at "something"
  6. terrible at "something".