Listen to a story about my new hobby!
You’ll also learn how the words “how to” become the sound /haʊt̬ə/ 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.
I spend a lot of time at a craft store in my town because I’m really into scrapbooking. One day I was wandering around the aisles when I spotted what I thought was the greatest thing ever: A Star Wars crochet kit. It was in a box, and it included a book that explained how to crochet 12 mini-Star Wars characters. It also included a crochet hook and all the yarn & filling needed to make two of the characters. I didn’t actually know how to crochet, but I really wanted to learn because these Star Wars characters were so cute!
Crocheting is a craft. You make things by using yarn and a special hook. You create stitches and join them together to make things like blankets, hats, scarves, or cute Star Wars characters. The book in the kit contains patterns. A pattern tells you how many stitches and what kind of stitches you need to make to complete each character.
I learned how to crochet the same way everyone learns a new skill nowadays: by watching how-to videos on YouTube! I learned how to make the different stitches and how to crochet in a circle to make round shapes.
Crocheting requires patience, but it’s relaxing. Sometimes I can spend an hour working on one character. Of course, my eyes are blurry afterward because the stitches are really small, but that goes away eventually. My other problem is that I pull the stitches apart and start over again if I’m not satisfied with my work. It takes me a long time to finish one character, but I really enjoy crocheting!
HOW THE WORDS HOW TO BECOME THE SOUND /haʊt̬ə/ IN FAST, NATURAL SPOKEN ENGLISH
This transcript uses IPA symbols to represent 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 these sentences from the story:
I didn’t actually know how to crochet, but I really wanted to learn …
I learned how to crochet the same way everyone learns a new skill nowadays …
Did you hear the words how or to in those sentences? There are two things that happen when how is followed by the preposition to. In fast, natural speech, the two words are combined and reduced to the sound /haʊt̬ə/.
The preposition to is a function word. It’s a grammar word. In needs to be in the sentence to make the sentence grammatically correct, but it’s not an important word. In fast, natural speech, the vowel O is reduced to the schwa sound /ə/, and to is pronounced /tə/.
When the letter T is between two vowel sounds and it’s at the beginning of an unstressed syllable, it becomes the alveolar flap sound, which is also called flap T, tap T, flapped T or tapped T.
Learn more: Episode 24: How to pronounced the American T sound
It’s not a fully pronounced T sound, but it’s not a D sound either, as many students think it is.
There’s a bump behind your top teeth called the alveolar ridge. The tip of your tongue quickly taps, or hits, this ridge behind your top teeth.
Your tongue doesn’t stop in the middle of the sound as it normally does with a fully pronounced T sound. There is also no release of air after the T. It’s a quick tongue tap.
How and to are not always pronounced /haʊt̬ə/. You will hear American English speakers say both /haʊ tu/ and /haʊ tə/
In fact, I said /haʊ tu/ in the story in this sentence:
I learned how to crochet by watching how-to /haʊ tu/ videos on YouTube.
In that sentence I used how-to as an adjective to describe the kind of videos I watched on YouTube.
Often when American English speakers are speaking slowly or when they want to speak clearly when they give a speech or a presentation at work, they will say /haʊ tu/ or /haʊ tə/. It’s important that you know all three ways of saying how to so that you can hear all three ways of saying how to.
Learn more: Episode 25: How “want to” becomes /wɑnə/
- What do you like to do in your free time?
Leave me a comment below!
Thank you for this interesting poscast! At this time, I spend my free time to read! I am FSL teacher and your method inspire me! Thank you so much!
I am so happy to hear that my method inspires you! You have made my day! Thank you.
Quick tip: “I spend my free time reading!”
All the best,
Hai Melanie,My hobby is to search your website.
Miguel Angel says
Very nice characters! I bought a Peppa Pig Crochet Cartoon Character for my daughter time ago, she loved her.
As always, a great podcast. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
My niece loves Peppa Pig, too! So cute.
I am happy you enjoyed the episode! Thank you! :)
Hola Melanie, me gusta dibujar y aprender inglés, saludos desde Chile.
What you do like to draw, Lissette?
I like to go to the beach in my free time.
I enjoy watching TV as well.
You are so lucky that you live near a beach!
great lesson thanks.
No problem! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Melanie, Thank you very much for sharing podcast with us. When I have free time, I generally read something in English to improve my English skills. So I find useful your writing, podcast and other advice to improve my English skills.
I am happy to hear that, Thunder! Thank you! :)
I spend my free time learning english! It’s very good and funny!!
Melaine, thank you for your time.
I love your positive attitude, Vivianny! Keep it up!
Hi Melanie, Thank you this podcast!
When I have free time, I spend my free time learning english skills. It’s very funny.
Have a good time.
You are a dedicated student, Behzad! That’s wonderful!
Julio España says
Hi Melanie, In my free time i like to do crosswords puzzles , browsing the web and hearing podcasts in english to train my ear so as to understand native speakers when they communicate in natural spoken english.
Have fun with your new hobbie
My mom really enjoys doing crossword puzzles, too, but I find them very difficult!
You are a very determined English learner, Julio! You are doing the right thing! Keep up the good work!
RODOLFO LEZAMA says
DEAR TEACHER MELANIE, THANKS FOR SHARING THIS ENGLISH LESSON. I LOVE TO WRITE FOR A NEWSPAPER IN SPANISH LANGUAGE, AND AS A HOBBY I SHARE WITH OTHERS HISPANIC ADULTS YOUR LESSONS AND ENJOY HELPING THEM TO LEARN A LITTLE BIT MORE ENGLISH IN THIS SMALL COMMUNITY NAMED “WINTON” IN CALIFORNIA. GREETINGS!
You are doing a wonderful thing helping other people learn English! I hope everyone enjoys the lessons!
Itzel Elena Gordillo Ramos says
hi teacher i like the lesson, i like to sing, and sometimes i like to do crafts.
i am from Villahermosa, Tabasco -México! Greetings!
Greetings! I have been to Mexico, but I didn’t get a chance to visit Tabasco! Mexico is a beautiful country!
I am happy to hear that you liked the lesson! Thank you for letting me know!
Hi dear teacher, Thank you very much for this interesting podcast.
I spend most of my free time with reading English story and novel and watching movies for improving my English language , really I am eager to English language and I have many big hobbies , my biggest hobby that , i wanna be a perfect in English language . thanks again
You are very determined, Sarbast! That’s wonderful! Keep up the great work!
Hi Thanks for the lesson , about my free time I am trying to learn French. Take care.
In Canada, we all have to study French in school! You have to memorize a lot of verb conjugations in French! I love the sound of French, but I find French pronunciation very difficult.
Good luck to you!
Hi Malenie, in my free time, I try to keep in touch on you page, because I need to learn English with quality and fast, for this reason I have been studyding more or less one hour by day. I hope that in a few time my English become better with you method, Thank you
You can do it Fania! Keep working hard!
tareq battah says
really i enjoy listening to your Episode from time to time, actually i am preparing for IELTS Test and i utilize my free time to study for that exam.
Thanks for your efforts.
All the best to you on the IELTS, Tareq! I am happy to hear that my podcast is helping you prepare for the exam. English tests like the IELTS aren’t easy, so I know how hard you are working to prepare for it!
hi melanie ; really i found your lessons especialy listening very helpful ! am grateful
That’s OK! I fixed your comment for you :) I am happy to hear that my lessons are helpful to you! Thank you for letting me know!
Hi Melanie,thank you so much .you ‘re the best. I
appreciate your job and wish you all the best.your work is great.God bless you .
Thank you so much for your kind words, Susan! I am so glad that you are here & that you enjoy my lessons! All the best to you!
Thank you for interesting and usefull episods. I watch movie. Red book. Do a cross word surf the internet when im free. But nowdays im so busy . Im working on my thesis for my master degree. But. Every midnight when i’ve just gone to bed. I study english even for 10 miniutes . And your website is such a exteraordinary method for learning.
Crossword puzzles are great mental activities! I wish you all the best with your master’s degree thesis. That is a lot of work!
I am happy to hear that you enjoy my website!
Manuel Cruz says
I enjoyed this episode a lot. It is always appreciated the way you teach different tricks of American English pronunciation.
I am happy to hear that Manuel! American pronunciation is hard to understand, and I want to make life easier for English learners everywhere!
Shahjahan Memon says
Hello Melanie, as usual it’s also the best podcast in terms of learning and improving. Thank you so much for your valuable work and efforts which make us more capable to understand and speak english fluently.
In my free time, I always go to your websites to listen podcasts and also, I play games sometimes.
I ACTUALLY STUDY GERMAN.
Well, In my free time I go to the soccerfield and practice soccer for a while and I like to relax In my bed watching tv after a work day
That sounds very relaxing, Rene!
José Roberto says
Thank you, Malenie,
In my free time, I try to improve my listened English.
Hi, Jose! You are in the right place! Listening to the English Teacher Melanie podcast is a great way to improve your English listening skills!
Hello there Melanie! in my free time I like being outdoor and enjoying nature walking the dog, hiking and taking wildlife pictures is my favourite hobby. I also like teaching Spanish in my free time although i’m not qualified nevertheless i enjoy sharing the language with like minded people interested in Spanish language.
I am very interesting in your postcard, I’m Vietnamese and your youtube is very useful with me.
In my free time I like reading book(many kinds of book:)) , and talk with my little son who is studying English too,he loves E and speaks all day.
Thank you so much
P/S: may be grammar is wrong but i think you will understand.
How wonderful that your son loves English and speaks all day at such a young age! That is so important. I hope he continue to enjoy English as he gets older. Yes, I understand your comment! : )
As a student from China, your lessons give me confidence to improve my listening and oral English, thank you very much. And I read other comments, you post lessons on the YouTube, honestly, I really hope I can watch it, but… crying… Thank you for your help in English.
Hello Lee! Please don’t cry! At this time I don’t have any videos available on YouTube! You are not missing anything. :)
Thank you!!! I enjoy reading and learning your lessons, and I will introduce the wonderful lessons to my friends!!!
Thank you so much teacher , I am not a native speaker but I don’t have any problem to understand your words because you have used the core vocab. Thank you a gain
In my free time I don’t do anything except reading , books are my food and water to continue living 😍
That is a great tip . I liked it a lot . It was my first podcast n I hope I will continue n learn a lot . Thanx a lot to b a great help
muhammad asif says
It was a great help to understand native speaker, teacher Melanie . I hope I will learn a lot from you about how to speak like a native speaker