Listen to a story about reading in the summer!
You’ll also learn how the words “want to” become the sound /wɑnə/ in fast, natural spoken English!
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.
Every year as we get closer to summer, you start seeing recommended summer reading lists everywhere. Newspapers, magazines and bookstores all publish their own lists of recommended books. A summer reading list is just that – a list of books you want to read over the summer.
People want to relax in the summer. It’s hot out. Summer days are long. Reading passes the time while you’re relaxing outside, while you’re lying by the pool or on the beach, or while you’re on an airplane traveling to your summer vacation destination. Summer books are considered light reading: books that are entertaining and easy to read.
Back in May I decided to compile my own summer reading list. I chose some books recommended by Canada’s main chain of bookstores, and some books recommended by a popular women’s magazine. I also added some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I started with a list of 12 books, but I keep discovering new books and adding more to my list.
Learn more: English Idioms with the Word Book
I looked for the books at the library. I don’t want to waste money buying books that I’m only going to read once. I found some of the books right away. Other books on my list were checked out, so I put a hold on them through the library website. I have to wait for the books to be returned to the library. When it’s my turn, the library will hold the book for me until I pick it up. I’m 35th in line for one of the books. I have to wait for 34 people ahead of me to finish reading that book. I probably won’t read that book until the fall!
HOW THE WORDS WANT TO BECOME THE SOUND /wɑnə/ IN FAST, NATURAL SPOKEN ENGLISH
This transcript uses IPA symbols to represents sounds and teach pronunciation. Learn more about the IPA here.
It’s important to know how to say this sound so you can also hear this sound.
Listen to this sentence from the story:
People want to relax in the summer.
Did you hear the words WANT or TO in the sentence? There are 3 things that happen when the verb WANT is followed the preposition TO. In fast natural speech, the two words are combined and reduced to the sound /wɑnə/.
The verb WANT ends with a T sound and the preposition TO begins with a T sound. In spoken English, same consonant sounds are linked, so you only have to say the T sound once, with no pause between the words: /wɑntoʊ/
Learn more: Episode 23: How to Link Same Consonant Sounds
The preposition TO is a function word. It’s a grammar word. It needs to be in the sentence to make the sentence grammatically correct, but it’s not an important word. In fast, natural speech, the preposition TO is reduced to the sound /tə/, where the vowel becomes the schwa sound /ə/.
So WANT TO becomes /wɑntə/
The N consonant sound and the T sound have the same starting mouth position. The tip of your tongue is touching the alveolar ridge or gum ridge behind your top teeth. Instead of finishing the T sound, American English speakers just don’t say the T sound at all, and so /wɑntə/ becomes /wɑnə/
/wɑnə/ is also the sound for WANT and the article A, for example “Do you want a /wɑnə/ cup of coffee?”
WANT and TO are not always pronounced /wɑnə/. You will hear American English speakers say both /wɑnə/ and /wɑntoʊ/ with the linked T consonant sounds. Often when American English speakers want to speak clearly, like I’m doing now, or when they give a speech or a presentation at work, they will say /wɑntoʊ/ or /wɑntə/. It’s important that you know all three ways of saying WANT TO so that you can hear all three ways of saying WANT TO.
You should never write the sound /wɑnə/. It’s not a word. Remember, /wɑnə/ is the sound of the words WANT and TO in fast, natural spoken English.
Listen to the story again, and listen for the sound /wɑnə/.
Learn more: How “kind of” becomes /haʊt̬ə/
- What book are you reading right now?
- If you’re not reading a book right now, what’s the last book you read?
Leave me a comment below!
Right now I am reading a book called The Poisoned Crown by Maurice Druon. It’s the third book in his Accursed Kings series. George R. R. Martin, who wrote the book series A Song of Ice and Fire that became the popular TV show “Games of Thrones,” says that the Accursed Kings inspired him to write A Song of Ice and Fire!
If you’re curious, here’s my original summer reading list:
1. The Miniaturist
2. Girl on the Train
3. The War of Art (non-fiction)
4. The Little Paris Bookshop
5. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (non-fiction)
7. Everyone Brave is Forgiven
8. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (non-fiction)
9. Girl on the Train
10. Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
12. The Nest
I didn’t like #3, #7 or #8, and I didn’t finish reading #7 or #8. I have read everything except #10-12. I am 35th in line for #12.