Listen to a story about the Christmas season and why it’s sometimes stressful!
You’ll also learn how about a common vowel sound in English that doesn’t exist in many other languages!
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.
For me, the Christmas season begins with my town’s Santa Claus parade at the end of November. It’s a fun community event. I also enjoy watching Christmas movies on TV. It’s a popular tradition to watch your favorite Christmas movies every year. My neighborhood always looks festive at Christmas because so many families decorate their houses. My next-door neighbor has a giant inflatable reindeer outside his house and it makes me smile! And, of course, I enjoy spending time with my family at Christmas, because that’s what’s important.
Learn more: The Story of Christmas and the Story of Santa
Christmas can be a lot of pressure, and there are some things I don’t like. You’re supposed to be happy all the time because “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!” You have to spend a lot of money to buy the perfect presents for everyone. And you have to be busy, because the busier you are, the more fun you’re having and the happier you are! It’s stressful and it’s a lot of buildup for just one day.
Learn more: How to say “a lot of” in fast, natural spoken English | Episode 31
I don’t enjoy Christmas shopping. Every year I say that I will get my shopping done early, and every year I’m at the mall a couple days before Christmas with all the other last-minute shoppers! My family is difficult to buy for. I usually end up wandering around the mall waiting for gift ideas to jump out at me. I do, however, enjoy wrapping presents, and I enjoy seeing how happy people are when they open their gifts.
Learn more: English Vocabulary: Christmas Collocations
When I was a kid, my brother and I would wait on the stairs until our parents woke up and then we would run downstairs and open all the presents. I don’t remember what we did for the rest of the day! We may have spent time with relatives, but when you’re a kid, Christmas is all about toys. Now Christmas is all about family and the fun part is watching my niece and nephew open their presents. I spend Christmas day with my family, which includes my mom’s sister and her family, and my mom cooks a big dinner for everyone. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day with your family, too!
Learn more: How to use the modal verb “would” to talk about the past
THE [ʌ] VOWEL SOUND AND WHERE YOU CAN HEAR IT IN THE STORY
This transcript uses IPA symbols to represent sounds and teach pronunciation. Learn more about the IPA here.
I’m going to say a list of words from the story. Listen carefully, and try to figure out what all these words have in common.
was / wʌz/
Did you hear the same vowel sound in all of those words? All of these words have the vowel sound [ʌ].
English learners are often surprised by this because this sound is spelled with different vowels. You’ll notice that money, fun, couple, and what all have the [ʌ] vowel sound, but the sound is spelled differently
Also, this sound doesn’t exist in most languages, so it takes some practice to learn when to say it.
It’s a very easy sound to make. Think of the vowel sound in the word up.
Your entire mouth is relaxed. Your lips are slightly open. The back part of your tongue raises slightly.
Practice this sound:
You might recognize this sound. It’s the same sound as the reduced vowel schwa sound [ə]. The only difference is that the schwa sound is shorter because it occurs in a reduced syllable. The sound that I’m talking about in this pronunciation tip occurs in a stressed syllable.
I’ll say the list of words again. Listen, and repeat after me:
was / wʌz/
- What’s your favorite holiday?
Leave me a comment below!
Merry Christmas Melanie and for your loves ones , my best wishes for 2017. Thank you for the lesson about Christmas as catholic person this festivities are very important to me ; Christmas carols, decorations, attend to church at Christmas eve, see the the people more generous with others, to sum up December is different. Thank you for all the lessons through the year.
Merry Christmas in arias Melanie and a blessed new year oh yeah my best holiday i do not actually know i love all holidays but i do not know which one to choose when i have a best one i will contact you.
Dear Melanie, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I wish youall the best.
Dear Melanie! Thank you so much! Merry Christmas and Happy new year to you!
Sergey Shilayev says
Merry Christmasand happy teaching.
Dear Melanie, thank you so much and wish you a Merry Christmas .
Have a blast with your nice family and as always God bless you. see you next year,,,,,,,,,<3 <3 <3…..
Pedro Mendes, Brasilia-DF says
I wish you and all yours a Merry Christmas, full of joys and health and a full New Year of accomplishments.
Dan Nguyen says
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too! In former soviet countries like Kazakhstan we celebrate the New Year holiday. This holiday is associated with Christmas tree, Ded Moroz (Santa Klaus’s clone) and Snegurochka (Ded Moroz’s granddaughter) and, of course, with toys and presents.
Curiously enough, the New Year holiday here is not connected to Christianity at all. The Christmas pine tree, called in Russian as Yolka, is topped with five-angled star and decorated with different toys, sparkling frippery and electric light set. Ded Moroz always appears with his granddaughter Snegurochka. They both perform the performance during the New Year’s holiday event annually organised for children. The New Year is the most favorite and desired holiday for them.
Hi, Melanie! Thank you so much.
It’s too boring to me go shopping Christmas, but i love spending good times with my Family on Christmas! And I see at Christmas people think more about gratitude, love, compassion and respect for
Om Prakash Ojha says
Hi Melanie, thanks so much for your wishes. Wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Thanks for the new lession. Regards Om
Tuany Mancini says
Thanks Melanie! I hope you have a happy Merry Christmas!
I’ll try to use the correct vocabulary and prepositions in my Christmas Eve in Australia!
I’m Brazilian and I was with many doubts about Christmas season… In my job one person asked me if this time, is my Christmas season? In the first moment I didn’t understand the question because I haven’t knew about different times for Christmas.
So… now I know, and with this lesson my knowledge grow up!
Nguyen Huu the Tien says
Thanks Melanie teacher, I hope you have a happy Merry Christmas and new years.
Hi, Melanie! I like the Christmas festival.Every year I and my family celebrate the festival.You asked me what job I have got? I replied, but it did not reached.I tried for two times .I have got a school teacher job.I hope you to have a happy Christmas.I feel happy to be a student for you.
shriya Vaidya says
Happy Christmas to you and your family !!!.
I am from Mumbai, India. I like Ganpati festival very much. This is festival where all family members visit at each other place without fail. The Lord Ganesha brings all family members together. It is like a guest coming at your home and staying with you for one and one- half day, five days and/ or ten days, depending upon home to home.
Tinio Espinal says
Merry Christmas Melanie!
Thanks for your valuable teaching.
Tinio Espinal says
Hi Melanie, I hope you’re fine.
I follow your listening podcasts and download them, this time I found your episode 34, but I haven’t found the episode 33. I’d appreciate your help.
José Reyes. says
Thanks a million, Melanie. I am an English teacher in Colombia, my country, and I have collected all your listening works to be used in class. They are a very valuable resource to solve the problem of the limited materials in small towns. Again, thanks for your devotion to teaching and have a successful new year.
Thank you teacher and I wish you and your family all the best and your life be filled with joy and happiness, each new day bring you moments to cherish.
Merry Christmas Melanie!
Happy Christmas to you and your family !
love your class/ site
hi everyone happy new year and a merry Christmas in arias.
i wish you too happy new year .
i wish you new year too
Dear Melanie, happy new year.
I do not celebrate the Christmas in spite of being educated in a catholic family; But I have fun waiting for the new year. Now I spent two weeks in the beautiful beaches of Manzanillo, Mexico in the Pacific Ocean.
Thank you very much for your lessons.
Interesting. So was sounds the same as much? But in the dictionary it is transcripted as [woz]. Is it an american/canadian way of saying it?
Yes! The vowel in “was” is the same as “much.” They sound the same. I have noticed that some online dictionaries also include /wɑz/, /wɒz/, or /woz/, but as a native speaker I can tell you that no one ever pronounces “was” that way. And by “no one” I mean Americans & Canadians.
my favourite holidays are holidays I spend with my family specially when I am with my sixter and her family near Arcachon in France, it is good to be with my nephew and my two nièces, as I have no kids rhey are in a certain way my kids too.
I need to practise my English , because for writting it is ok but speaking or understand spoken English is more difficult for me so your lessons help me to entertain my language.
Hi teacher Melania
my favorite holiday was when I went on a trip with my relatives in a new year holiday and I spent a lot of time with them. we went to different parks and ate various traditional food. actually, I am Iranian and Iranian people celebrate the new year in spring. come to Iran Melania and enjoy the wonderful places.
Hello Melanie, I want to tell that I love your podcast. Right now I’m listening it everyday in my car. I want to request something, can you put the transcripts of the podcast in PDF? Also it would be nice your posts in PDF to download them. Thank you very much and greeting from Colombia, I recommend you to visit us, my country is beautiful. Bye.
Melanie, I can’t found episode 33 :(
Hello teacher! I cannot find the “play” button. How can I listen to the story? Please help me!
Where are you listening to the story? Are you using your phone, a tablet or a desktop computer?
mohamed ashraf says
Dear Melanie thank you for lessons and my favourite holiday is New Year’s Holiday
I think you wanted to say New Year’s Eve, which is December 31! January 1 is New Year’s Day!