Friday, July 7, 2017

A Useful American Idiom: "Second Nature"

Hi everyone!  It's BRUTALLY hot and humid out (or, "yoomid" as they say in Brooklyn)--ninety-six degrees Fahrenheit and 99% humidity!  Phhhheeeeyew!   Remember that in this country we  use "Fahrenheit" as the temperature scale and not "Celsius" or "Centigrade" which is what you probably use in your home country.

Walking down  the street in New Jersey right now--you practically have to swim down the street!  Its pretty awful.   Thank G-d for air conditioning!  I don't know what I'd do without it.   And we aren't even into the worst high heat of the summer--that won't come until the end of July or the beginning of August, where the temperatures on the Jersey Shore, where I live, will regularly break a hundred degrees.

In any case.   I made and posted a new video--this one is about a great American idiom:  "Second nature".  The idiom "second nature" as in "its second nature to him" means it comes easily, it comes naturally, he does it easily and naturally and without difficulty.  Check out the video here:


All right?  All right.  I hope you find this idiom useful in your daily speech; its a very common one that Americans use pretty constantly.

Also remember that I have an American Idiom of the Day twitter feed and David Berlin's American Accent and ESL Training webpage if you are interested in taking ESL or accent reduction lessons.   You can call me at (732) 807-5424 to discuss or hit me up on Skype at david.berlin.esl -- I am always happy to work with international students.

Okay?  okay.  Have a great summer, take it easy, this is your friendly neighborhood ESL and accent reduction tutor, David Berlin, SIGNING OFF--see ya!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

And Now Its The Beginning Of Another Summer!

Wow!  And now its the beginning of another summer!  Been a long time since I updated this blog.

Things are great down here at the Jersey Shore.   Its almost Memorial Day.   Memorial Day honors American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have died defending this country.   (Veteran's Day, which is November 11th, honors ALL American Veterans.)

People are starting to think about barbecuing.  I've talked about barbecuing, baseball, and American culture in previous blog posts, and as always, if you have questions about baseball and how its played, or how to best respond to an invitation  to a barbecue from an American friend, give me a call at (732) 807-5424 or hit me up on Skype at david.berlin.esl and we'll figure it out.

Now in previous posts I've talked about garage sales and lemonade stands.  Another interesting part of American culture is street festivals.  In New Jersey, we are famous for street festivals--all you have to do is google the words, "street festivals NJ" and you'll get plenty of listings.  A street festival is when a town or municipality shuts down the main streets in the town and hires food vendors and art and craft vendors and all kinds of vendors to come in---some sell novelties, t-shirts, umbrellas, all kinds of things.

The food at a street festival is not to be missed.  If you are a vegetarian, you can still get zeppole--a kind of fried dough with powdered sugar, and fried potatoes with enough salt to give you a heart attack (the only way to eat them!) and all kinds of delicious foods.  You can get a tall cold glass of lemonade made with a lemon, sugar, and ice water--my personal favorite and the only way to properly make lemonade.

And street festivals always have bands, sometimes more than one.

All right?  All right.   Remember if you have any questions about this or any other points of American culture or if you think you need some help with your accent, or you need to speak better, clearer, more confident English, give me a call at (732) 807-5424.  Also check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter feed or my website:  David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training Website.  Also check out my ESL/Accent Reduction YouTube Channel for more video lessons on proper American English pronunciation and help navigating American culture.

All right?  'Til next time, take care.  SEE YA!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Labor Day! The Official End of Summer in the US!

Well, folks, this weekend is Labor Day, the official "end of summer", the end of the summer season in  the United States.   Although the "end of summer" and beginning of fall doesn't really happen until September 23rd (the vernal equinox, when night and day are of equal length), most folks in the United States consider Labor Day the end of summer---the kids go back to school, students go back to college, work starts up again in earnest, people stop going swimming and to the beach.

On "Labor Day Weekend", a long weekend, which this summer is Saturday September 3rd *through* and including Monday September 5th, Americans get the last of the summer out of our systems.   We have a last party or barbecue before we cover the grill for the summer, we turn on the American football game on TV and sit down with a couple of beers and root for our favorite teams (popular teams in the NY/NJ area where I am are the NY Giants, the NY/NJ Jets (perpetual underdogs), and the Philadelphia Eagles for those further South.

Interestingly enough, understanding American football is a huge part of understanding American culture, and I will consult on a football game or two--watch it with you, explain the rules, finer points of the game, how to tailgate, what "season tickets" are, and so on.   I've had students who felt completely left out because they didn't understand football and needed to understand it to make small talk where they worked.   If that's of interest to you, give me a buzz, we'll talk about it.  My number is (732) 807-5424 or you can reach me on Skype at david.berlin.esl (my Skype ID).  I don't charge my regular in person rate for that; there's a transportation charge and a lower fee to do football/sports consulting.

I also do American cultural consulting as part of my normal ESL/accent reduction work.  Let me know what your needs are and we'll work it out.

In any case, here is a video for you.   It teaches you how to pronounce the  tʃ  sound as in the word "chair" or "chairman".  Basically, you make  /ʃ/ (/sh/) sound as in shy or shell, but before you make that sound you make a /t/ sound as in touch or tear and blend it into the / ʃ/ sound.   And what you get is  /tʃ/--chair, cheese, and so on.


All right?  All right.    Also you can check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed and my David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training website.  Or you can check out my YouTube Channel for more tips, tricks, and help on American culture, accent reduction, and American English.

All right?  All right.  Or you can just give me a buzz at (732) 807-5424, or shoot me an email at david.berlin.esl@gmail.com.  Or buzz me on Skype.  All right?  All right.  Take it easy!
  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

End of Summer, Beginning of Fall: TIME FOR LESSONS!

Well, summer is ending, and that awful heat seems to be going with it, thank G-d.   The temperature here by the coast in New Jersey is much, much nicer now although I'm sure we'll have a couple more hot days before Autumn  comes in and the leaves start falling!

Now I know many of you sometimes hold back--you see my videos, you see my phone number and you think to yourself, "I'd like to speak clearly and naturally so Americans understand me, and I'd like to learn better English and American culture--but really, what is this guy really like?  Could I work with him?"

I am a very, very kind teacher and my style is firm but progress oriented.  What that means is that I'm non-judgemental and I never laugh at or make fun of my students.    I understand the problems that come with being a new American and not understanding the culture here and the language and the way we live.  Its okay!  We can talk about that, I can explain it to you--and along the way I can help you to learn and pronounce American English better.

I've been doing this for almost twenty years now, since 1998.     I understand your issues.  And I know how to help.    Why don't you give me a call today, we'll talk about it.  My number is (732) 807-5424.


Now, onwards to a video.    Check this one out.   There is an expression in American English:  to "shoot down" an idea or to "put the kibosh" on an idea--what it basically means it to say that someone can't do what they want to do.  So for instance if Charlie wants to have the company party at a local bar, Prabash, his supervisor might "shoot down" the idea or "put the kibosh" on it by telling Charlie its a no-go, he can't do that.   Its pretty simple.    Another example might be if Joe wants to book big name entertainment for the Christmas party, for instance Third Eye Blind, Kiran his supervisor might "put the kibosh" on that idea.   It just means that Kiran will tell him he can't do it.

All right?  All right.    If you are interested in further American idioms, check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed and if you are interested in ESL/accent/American cultural understanding lessons, check out the David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training website or you can check out David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training YouTube Channel for more tips and tricks on reducing your accent and pronouncing American English properly, and for more American cultural tips.

Or just call me at (732) 807-5424 or hit me up on Skype at david.berlin.esl  all right?  All right!

'til next time...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hot Enough For Ya?

WOW!  It has been hot, too hot, really to go outside and do anything.   During the day at its hottest it has been 115° F with the heat index (the "heat index" or "RealFeel" is how hot it "feels" to a person, not what the temperature outside actually is.   The "heat index" includes factors like humidity, air pressure, wind/breezes, precipitation, and things like that.)  


115° F is too hot to do much of anything outdoors, and many people are simply staying inside where there is air conditioning.   One thing you may find unusual about America that may be different, for instance, if your native land is India or Indonesia is that most indoor spaces in the US are air conditioned--we have machines that fit in windows or on roofs that use compressors to draw moisture out of the air and blow cold air into a room.

(My understanding is that depending on where in India you are, air conditioning may not be common.   In the US it is everywhere--even the poorest people generally have air conditioning of some type.)

Anyhow.   I managed to get a new video up--this one is for all of my Chinese language speakers who always ask me how to pronounce the /ng/ digraph at the end of a word like sing or ring or singing.

 (A digraph is a two letter pair that represents one sound.)

This video:



May help you do that correctly.  Essentially the "g" at the end is not a hard g like at the beginning of the word "gold" or "good"--it is lightly--very lightly articulated if at all.   You touch the back of your tongue to the back of the roof of your mouth like the /g/ sound but you don't finish the sound, or if you do, you do it very lightly.

All right?  All right.   Remember, if you're interested in American idioms, check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed and if you're interested in taking English as a Second Language or accent reduction lessons head on over to David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training Website.

Also, for more tips and tricks related to the American accent and American English, as well as American cultural tips, check out my ESL and Accent Reduction YouTube Channel.  

All right?  All right.  'Til next time, this is David Berlin, your friendly neighborhood ESL/accent reduction tutor SIGNING OFF...goodbye!

Monday, March 21, 2016

A New Video About Garage Sales, and Some Ideas to Help You Improve Your Speech

Hi everyone!  This is David Berlin.   This video is about garage sales in America--a common feature of American culture.   A garage sale is when someone gathers their used goods, things that they've used but aren't using anymore, but that still have life in them, and they put them on blankets on their lawn or card tables in their driveway, and they sell them.

My students often want to understand "street English"--American English as its spoken everyday, informal English.  One of the best ways to do that is to watch old American sitcoms.   Sitcoms like "Friends" or "The Office" or "Seinfeld" are great for that...of course, if you have some trouble understanding the English that's being spoken on the sitcoms, or you can't make out the words, I'm here to help!  Give me a call at (732) 807-5424 or hit me up on Skype at david.berlin.esl and I will be happy to sit with you and watch TV and TEACH you at the same time.  I've done exactly that with other students, and its a great way to learn real world English, as its spoken on the streets every day.

And of course, don't forget to check out my ESL/Accent Reduction YouTube channel or my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed.  Or, if you're ready to schedule a consult or a first lesson, first check out my ESL/Accent Reduction Training Website for information on rates, scheduling, and so on.  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring Is Almost Here! (But For One Last Snowstorm!)

Well, spring is almost here, although we are supposed to get one last snowstorm.  But who knows, right?   Well, I love to teach, and I love to teach in the evenings, and I love to teach in the evenings via Skype.   I can help you reduce your accent to make you more understandable to Americans, to get that promotion or deal with those clients.   Typically, I do some diagnostic testing during a consult to see where you are and where you want to go.   Then we work together, starting by changing your intonation--the "musical pitch" of your speech--the rising and falling in pitch of your voice--to be more like that of an American.  

At the same time, we work on the rhythm of your English, so you get your stresses--your emphasis--in the right places.  From there I teach you to *stretch* out your vowels so everything comes out with a nice flow.  Then we work on specific problem sounds like the /sh/ sound vs the /s/ sound or the different kinds of /th/ sounds.

Essentially, the training method I use is repetitive drills with constructive criticism and correction.   I demonstrate a sound, and we go through the drills.  You make the sound, and I offer correction and criticism--in very literal terms, such as "put your tongue here" or "drop your jaw".   When the lesson is over, I give you recordings and handouts to practice with between lessons.   You do your homework and come back for the next lesson where we review.  The practice-feedback-practice loop helps you to gradually improve as well as to understand what you're doing wrong and how to do it right.

Sound interesting?  Check out my ESL/Accent Reduction YouTube Channel for some free tips on how to reduce your accent, as well as some cultural tips that may help you do better in America.  Also check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed for some great info on American idioms and expressions and slang and information and examples on how to use them.

Finally, if you're ready to take the plunge (to "take the plunge" means to take the action you've thought about taking) check out my ESL/Accent Reduction website for more information about me and how to reach me.  Also, feel free to download some of the FREE ESL/accent reduction podcasts on the right  hand side of this blog.

Remember, I can't call you, you have to call me.  Give me a call today.