Listen to a story about how my car died!
You’ll also learn how to pronounce the vowel combination AU, like in the words “August” and “auto.”
Welcome to the English Teacher Melanie Podcast, a podcast for intermediate to advanced English learners who want to improve their English listening and speaking skills!
Each episode includes a story and a pronunciation tip. In the story, I use core vocabulary, the most common words in English, to tell a real world story. The pronunciation tip will help you understand natural spoken English.
You’ll hear the story twice. The first time, the story is a little slower than normal. It sounds funny because I used editing software to change the speed of the story and make it slower. After the pronunciation tip, you’ll hear the story again, but at a regular speed.
My car died last October. I was sad, but I wasn’t surprised. I knew my car was on its last legs. It happened on a Wednesday while I was driving around doing some errands. As I was driving, I noticed that the steering wheel was slowly moving to the left on its own, even though I was driving in a straight line and the wheels weren’t turning. I could also hear something rattling underneath the car. I finished my errands and got home safely, but I knew it was the last time I would ever drive my car.
It’s hard to explain what went wrong with my car, because I don’t know a lot about cars. Here’s what my dad explained to me. There are small rods underneath the car that are part of the steering system. These rods are important, because they connect the front wheels to the steering mechanism. The rods underneath my car had rusted and part of one had broken off, which meant that I couldn’t completely control the front wheels with the steering wheel. There was no point in getting it fixed because the repairs would have cost more than the car was worth.
I sold the car to the scrapyard. Nowadays scrapyards are called auto recycling companies, or auto recyclers. They pay cash for scrap cars, which are broken-down cars that can no longer be driven. The rest of the car was still in great condition, especially the interior, so the scrapyard will take the car apart and sell the parts to other customers.
It was a sad day when my car was towed away to the scrapyard. I loved my car. I bought it brand new in 2001 and I drove it everywhere. It was the only car I’ve ever owned. I haven’t bought another car yet. I work from home, so a car isn’t a necessity. I’m thinking about buying a one- or two-year-old used car. That’s more affordable than buying a brand new car.
How to pronounce the vowel combination AU
This transcript uses IPA symbols to represents sounds and teach pronunciation. Learn more about the IPA here.
In the story, I used the word auto. This is a great opportunity to look at how to pronounce the vowel combination AU.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Melanie, I already know how to pronounce words with AU.“ I want you to listen to this pronunciation tip anyway, because you may be surprised by it.
Many of my students try to say the sound /aʊ/ when they see this vowel combination. They say things like August /ˈaʊgəst/ instead of August /ˈɑɡəst/.
The vowel combination AU is almost never pronounced /aʊ/, so if you’ve been pronouncing it that way, you’ll need to relearn a few words!
The vowel combination AU is pronounced /ɑ/.
This is a very easy sound to make. Your mouth opens from your jaw, as if you were yawning. Your lips are relaxed and not rounded. Your tongue is flat on the bottom of your mouth. /ɑ/
Here are some words with the AU vowel combination at the beginning of a word:
Here are some words with the AU vowel combination in the middle of a word:
caught [past tense of catch]
taught [past tense of teach]
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule in English. There are some words where the AU vowel combination is not pronounced /ɑ/, for example, the words laugh & laughter, and dinosaur. However, these are exceptions and most of the time, the vowel combination AU is pronounced /ɑ/.
Do you have a car?
Have you ever had a problem with your car?
Leave me a comment below!