Sunday, March 27, 2022

Memorizing the IPA

Having finished the Crash Course series on Linguistics, which I wrote about in my last blog entry, I have set out to learn all the IPA symbols, or at least those representing sounds in English.  This is a big task but doable just by making a habit of always focusing on the symbols offered next to a word viewed in the dictionary.

I knew more IPA symbols when I was 12 than I do, now.  Having learned to read in the first grade, I simply read from then on.  When I was 7 my well-meaning parents gave me a children's dictionary which I  never used.  I prefered the larger and more detailed adult dictionary with IPA symbols!  Why did I quit noticing, and, ultimately, forget them?  Perhaps because I'd subconsiously learned all the phonetics involved in spelling or because, as an adult, I heard the words spoken as well as seeing them written.

To crash-relearn the English symbols, I've found a wonderful YouTube video, "How to remember IPA phoneme symbols: my tricks!" By English Jade.  The symbols, which were derived from Roman and Greek alphabet letters, do not all have an obvious relationship to the sound they denote.  Jade has drawn cartoon objects which visually contain the symbol and are pronunced with the vowel or consonant represented.

For an online interactive chart go to

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Blue Buffalo Eyes

 Last night's crazy dream word combination was three real words, "blue buffalo eyes".  I think this meant the buffaloes' eyes were blue, not that the entire animal was blue.  But it didn't matter because this was supposed to be a code that enabled something to be downloaded or updated. (As is the case in most dreams, it wasn't working.)

Why a complicated expression?  Perhaps because I had been watching the YouTube Crash Course series on Linguistics.  In addition to the preview, there are 16 videos,most 10 or 11 minutes long.  I have covered Morphology and Syntax and am now on Episode 5, "Semantics".

Simple arithmetic shows I should be able to complete the videos in 3 hours or so; however it will take a bit longer.  Since the series crams a huge amount of information into each segment, with a large amount of new vocabulary, I am constantly pausing and sometimes replaying. 

The narrator does speak clearly and expressively.  However, in the effort to condense to the smallest amount of time and file size, she rushes, barely pausing between sentences.  The producers could have used their vast knowledge of intonation, inflection and tempo to make the lectures just a little more mellow.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Video Introduction

Sooner or later almost all prospective employers want to see a video introduction.  As for companies trying to SELL teachers on using their platform to reach students -- even some of those companies require a video. You must prove that you are up to the standards of their platform!  

People want 1 minute or 3 or 2-1/2 or whatever.  Some also want a demo class.  The specifics are endless.  

I finally created an "all purpose" intro which is 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  Since it is in the form of a question-answer session it does double-duty as a short lesson.  I've posted it on the website under the "About" tab.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Not Quite a Real Word

 "Revoke" --

It's the latest in a line of semi-real and imaginary words which spring into my mind at about 5 AM.

For several months, now, I've had a just-before-waking-up dream which features one, brand new, useful word.  Whatever the situation, it always inspires the feeling "What a great expression.  I'll use it from now on."  

Of course I forget it soon after waking.

Sometimes the term is made up of syllables from related words and sometimes it features all new sounds.  However it can be an existing word but with an entirely new meaning like "revoke".  

Here, the "voke"part meant more than just "to call" as in "invoke".  It meant to create.  And the "Re-" prefix meant "once more" as in "repeat" or "reinstate".  Therefore it meant to create once again, taking more effort than just reinstating something that had never totally disappeared.  That would be the word "re-invoke".  I can't remember what, in the dream, it was necessary to "re-voke", but of course it was immensely important.

Silly words.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Human Mind

 Thanks to Swap Language & Culture in the "MATERIALS FOR ENGLISH TEACHERS" Facebook group.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Small Talk

It's been a whole month since I posted!  

Did I mention earlier that I was taking the 2nd half of the Color Vowel Level I course in January and February?  Well, I finished it up in spite of coming down with a nasty chest cold and cough which hung on forever.  I got a lot out of the course but feel sorry for the teacher who had to listen to my croaking demonstrations.

Just this week I finally got back to Jazzercise.

As always, my days have been cheered by my ESL classes and I've even added a couple of dialogs to the ongoing Inter-Galactic Agricultural and Mechanical Corp. (IGAMC) saga.

The latest addition is a theme that many teachers/courses present as the very first class, rather than as a subject for the middle of the year -- Small Talk. 

Since all my students are adult professionals, our lessons have focused around more serious matters.  However I realized that everybody needs the ability to hold their own in an informal conversation with strangers or bare acquaintances.  In addition, the who-what-where-when question/answers and coulda-woulda-shoulda gossip provide practice on the speech reductions that give students problems in all levels of conversation.

Therefore it was time for IGAMC to sponsor a convention at which people would meet informally and enjoy themselves with small talk.