Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi everybody! Welcome back to English Topics. My name is Alisha and I'm here today again withโ€ฆ
Michael: Michael. Hello!
Alisha: And today, we're going to be talking about, "Questions that We Have Been Asked." So, let's begin. What is the first question that you would like to discuss today, Michael?
Michael: I would like to discuss, "What's the main difference between British and American English?" So, for me, I'd like to get this out of the way. Canadians and Americans sound pretty much the same. It's hard for us to tell the difference. Even native English speakers--there's a couple of telltale signs--say some things but it's usually regional. So, I guess North Americans, and then like UK English and again, there's a lot of different accents and dialects, it all depends. But for me, the easiest way is Americans enunciate every word. We're very loud and we open our mouths a lot. "Hello." "How are you?" "Where are you from?" "Teacherโ€ฆ" "Waterโ€ฆ" We enunciate every sound. So, for me, a dead giveaway is that "R," that end "R."
Alisha: Right, it's tough. I listen for vowel sounds and try to guess based on that. So, your question is about British English and American English. There's also Australian English, there Scottish English, there's Irish English, there are so many different English-speaking dialects. Honestly, sometimes it's hard for us to understand. We're both from relatively the same part of America so we have the same speaking style. Our accents are the same. But to go through all of the different dialects and others to try and approximate-- to try and say them badly, it would probably just be a waste of time. But you're on the Internet, look it up. Okay. I guess we'll go to the next one.
Let's see. My question is--I'm going to start with a grammar question that I get a lot. A grammar question that I come across--students asked me this question. "The present tense versus the progressive tense." What is the difference? When should I use present tense versus progressive tense? So, by this, I mean of verbs. The present tense is used for facts, things which are always true, things which are part of your regular schedule. The progressive tense has a few different meanings to it, a few different uses to it. But, one of the meanings or one of the uses is to express something which is temporary. which is not part of your regular schedule or another use is to describe a trend. To use a very common mistake, as an example, if I ask the question, "Where do you work?" A lot of times the response I get from my students is, "I am working in America." Depending on the situation, that sentence could be correct. But, if you're talking about the place where you work always, every day you go to that job. It could be the location of your office, it could be the country or the city where you work. If it's a part of your regular schedule, you want to explain a fact that is true about your life. You should use the present tense, not the progressive tense. So, the correct version of that sentence should be "I work in America." That's part of my regular schedule. If, however, you're only in America for the week, for example. you can use the progressive tense, but it's more natural to say for example, "This week I'm working in America." That's a much more natural sentence to use."
Michael: "How do I pronounce the "TH" sound?" So, depending on who I'm teaching English to, they'll have problems with different pronunciation sounds. But, for me, I think one that's common with a lot of different cultures is the "TH" sound and again, this goes back to like the different ways of speaking and how Americans enunciate every word and push our way to speak to the very tip of our mouth. That's the "TH" sound. So, most people are capable of making the "TH" sound but they're just a little shy and it just doesn't seem natural. It's almost as if you can bite the tip of your tongue off when you say the sound. Right? And then, just another thing to note is that "TH" can have a hard or a soft or voiced or unvoiced sound. So, "the" is hard or voiced. You hum, "the." And then with "think," it's a soft or unvoiced. You don't hum, you don't vibrate, you just say "think." But it's still the tongue goes touches your teeth, "think." "Thatโ€ฆ"
Alisha: This is another grammar point that I get questions about from time to time. It is the "present perfect tense versus the simple past tense." The question is "When do I use them?" So present perfect tense--let's see, an example of present perfect tense would be, "I have been to Paris." A simple past tense would be, "I went to Paris." What is the difference? We use the present perfect tense to talk about a life experience or something which occurred in the past but which still affects the present. So, in this case, in my Paris example sentence, it's something that happened in the past but exactly "when" is not important. We just want to say, "I have had the life experience of going to Paris." Simple past, however, is used to refer to a specific point in time in the past. So, for example, "I went to Paris last summer." It's important that you know I went last summer. If the time point when you went to Paris is not important, use the present perfect tense. So, this is really useful for talking about your travel experiences, for talking about your study experiences, foods you have and have not eaten. So, just try to keep in mind when you should use these two. They're very commonly used together. For example, you might use the present perfect tense to introduce a question, "Have you ever been to Paris?" And the follow-up answer, "Oh yes, I have been to Paris," using the present perfect tense again. But then, a common pattern is to follow that answer up with a simple past question "When did you go?" So, you can see. it changes from present perfect tense to simple past tense, a larger life experience to a more simple life experience. They're used together but just be careful. Try to be aware of, "Am I talking about an overall life experience or a very specific life experience?" This is one that many of my students struggle.
Michael: This is more cultural. "Why do Americans wear shoes inside the house, on the bed, etc.?" I feel like this depends and this is starting to change, I take my shoes off in most houses but I guess it's more so for comfort whereas I feel like, on the east side of the world, it's more of like a cleanliness kind of a thing. And if you do still wear your shoes, it's pretty taboo. Whereas in the States, I feel like most people, from my experience, anecdotal evidence, just personal experience, most places, you take off your shoes. But if they have a party, they let people wear shoes inside the house. They don't care. And a lot of my friends will see American movies and they see somebody, the main character, wearing their shoes on the bed, on the couch, something like that. Again, from my experience, it's not that big of a deal but typically you wouldn't do that. For me, the rule of thumb, the unsaid rule is that you can put your shoes up but you don't let your shoes touch the couch. You kind of hang off, right. So, if you want to lay on the couch without taking your shoes off, you let your feet hang off. Because, of course, they're going to get dirty but it's just not as emphasized as much in our culture. I don't know.
Alisha: The last question I have is "Can I ask a question?" The answer is "Yes." In probably 95% of cases the answer to the question, "Can I ask a question?" is "Yes." Okay. Why did I choose this question? My students sometimes will put their hands up in my lesson and say, "Can I ask a question?" One, this is your English class. Yes, please ask questions. But two, also this is a discussion I've been having with a few people recently. Just about the mindset that I think is really important when speaking English. We have experience teaching in Asia where maybe there's a different approach to conversations. I don't know if this is the same cultural approach to conversations that people from other countries have but don't wait for permission to speak. Don't wait to jump into a conversation. Just go for it. Don't wait for someone to say, "Oh, would you like to speak now?" because that's never going to happen.
Michael: So, don't be shy. Get your tongue out and say things and don't worry if it sounds rude or too polite or whatever. Yeah, I couldn't agree more.
Alisha: Yeah, it's a shift in mindset. When you start speaking that second language, like you said, if you just change your mind, just a little bit, just make a small shift in your mindset maybe you'll see, "Ah, that's what it takes." Just let go a little bit of your home language and see what happens.
Great! So those are some questions that we have been asked about teaching, about English, about culture. If you have any other questions, by the way, please make sure to leave them in a comment for us or if there's something that you've always wondered about or if there's something that you've encountered recently that confused you, whatever. leave it in a comment for us and maybe we'll talk about it in the future. Thanks very much for watching this episode of English Topics. Please make sure to subscribe to our channel if you haven't already and we will see you again next time. Bye!


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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Do you have any more questions? :)

Monday at 11:39 PM
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Hello Daniel,

Thank you for your question. It is quite the question too. Double consonant words are some of the most misspelled words in the English language.

There are a few rules I have included here that might help you on your way to understanding them;

- Consonants are never doubled at the beginning of a word

- Some consonants are almost never used (h, j, q, v, w, x, y)

- Double consonants are very rare after long vowels

- Where there are compound words, the consonant is written double - eg. headdress, bathhouse, fishhook

- The following monosyllabic words need a double consonant - add, all, ass, ebb, egg, ell, ill, inn, odd, off

It can get quite confusing with all these rules but I hope this helps.



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Friday at 12:42 AM
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How do I need to understand using two consecutive written consonants like รฎn "scissores"?

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 07:30 PM
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Hello Niloofar,

Thank you for commenting! We are glad that you enjoyed the lesson!

If you ever have any questions, please let us know!



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Saturday at 05:42 AM
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This video was so useful

Now i know about my questions

I got them

Thank you ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ