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  • Alisha: Hi everybody! Welcome back to English Topics.

  • My name is Alisha and I'm here today again with

  • Michael: Michael. Hello!

  • Alisha: And today, we're going to be talking about, “Questions that We Have Been Asked.”

  • So, let's begin.

  • What is the first question that you would like to discuss today, Michael?

  • Michael: I would like to discuss, “What's the main difference between British and American

  • English?”

  • So, for me, I'd like to get this out of the way.

  • Canadians and Americans sound pretty much the same.

  • It's hard for us to tell the difference.

  • Even native English speakers--there's a couple of telltale signs--say some things but it's

  • usually regional.

  • So, I guess North Americans, and then like UK English and again, there's a lot of different

  • accents and dialects, it all depends.

  • But for me, the easiest way is Americans enunciate every word.

  • We're very loud and we open our mouths a lot.

  • Hello.”

  • How are you?”

  • Where are you from?”

  • Teacher…”

  • Water…”

  • We enunciate every sound.

  • So, for me, a dead giveaway is that “R,” that end “R.”

  • Alisha: Right, it's tough.

  • I listen for vowel sounds and try to guess based on that.

  • So, your question is about British English and American English.

  • There's also Australian English, there Scottish English, there's Irish English, there are

  • so many different English-speaking dialects.

  • Honestly, sometimes it's hard for us to understand.

  • We're both from relatively the same part of America so we have the same speaking style.

  • Our accents are the same.

  • But to go through all of the different dialects and others to try and approximate-- to try

  • and say them badly, it would probably just be a waste of time.

  • But you're on the Internet, look it up.

  • Okay.

  • I guess we'll go to the next one.

  • Let's see.

  • My question is--I'm going to start with a grammar question that I get a lot.

  • A grammar question that I come across--students asked me this question.

  • The present tense versus the progressive tense.”

  • What is the difference?

  • When should I use present tense versus progressive tense?

  • So, by this, I mean of verbs.

  • The present tense is used for facts, things which are always true, things which are part

  • of your regular schedule.

  • The progressive tense has a few different meanings to it, a few different uses to it.

  • But, one of the meanings or one of the uses is to express something which is temporary.

  • which is not part of your regular schedule or another use is to describe a trend.

  • To use a very common mistake, as an example, if I ask the question, “Where do you work?”

  • A lot of times the response I get from my students is, “I am working in America.”

  • Depending on the situation, that sentence could be correct.

  • But, if you're talking about the place where you work always, every day you go to that

  • job.

  • It could be the location of your office, it could be the country or the city where you

  • work.

  • If it's a part of your regular schedule, you want to explain a fact that is true about

  • your life.

  • You should use the present tense, not the progressive tense.

  • So, the correct version of that sentence should be “I work in America.”

  • That's part of my regular schedule.

  • If, however, you're only in America for the week, for example.

  • you can use the progressive tense, but it's more natural to say for example, “This week

  • I'm working in America.”

  • That's a much more natural sentence to use.”

  • Michael: “How do I pronounce theTHsound?”

  • So, depending on who I'm teaching English to, they'll have problems with different pronunciation

  • sounds.

  • But, for me, I think one that's common with a lot of different cultures is theTH

  • sound and again, this goes back to like the different ways of speaking and how Americans

  • enunciate every word and push our way to speak to the very tip of our mouth.

  • That's theTHsound.

  • So, most people are capable of making theTHsound but they're just a little shy

  • and it just doesn't seem natural.

  • It's almost as if you can bite the tip of your tongue off when you say the sound.

  • Right?

  • And then, just another thing to note is thatTHcan have a hard or a soft or voiced

  • or unvoiced sound.

  • So, “theis hard or voiced.

  • You hum, “the.”

  • And then withthink,” it's a soft or unvoiced.

  • You don't hum, you don't vibrate, you just saythink.”

  • But it's still the tongue goes touches your teeth, “think.”

  • That…”

  • Alisha: This is another grammar point that I get questions about from time to time.

  • It is thepresent perfect tense versus the simple past tense.”

  • The question isWhen do I use them?”

  • So present perfect tense--let's see, an example of present perfect tense would be, “I have

  • been to Paris.”

  • A simple past tense would be, “I went to Paris.”

  • What is the difference?

  • We use the present perfect tense to talk about a life experience or something which occurred

  • in the past but which still affects the present.

  • So, in this case, in my Paris example sentence, it's something that happened in the past but

  • exactlywhenis not important.

  • We just want to say, “I have had the life experience of going to Paris.”

  • Simple past, however, is used to refer to a specific point in time in the past.

  • So, for example, “I went to Paris last summer.”

  • It's important that you know I went last summer.

  • If the time point when you went to Paris is not important, use the present perfect tense.

  • So, this is really useful for talking about your travel experiences, for talking about

  • your study experiences, foods you have and have not eaten.

  • So, just try to keep in mind when you should use these two.

  • They're very commonly used together.

  • For example, you might use the present perfect tense to introduce a question, “Have you

  • ever been to Paris?”

  • And the follow-up answer, “Oh yes, I have been to Paris,” using the present perfect

  • tense again.

  • But then, a common pattern is to follow that answer up with a simple past questionWhen

  • did you go?”

  • So, you can see.

  • it changes from present perfect tense to simple past tense, a larger life experience to a

  • more simple life experience.

  • They're used together but just be careful.

  • Try to be aware of, “Am I talking about an overall life experience or a very specific

  • life experience?”

  • This is one that many of my students struggle.

  • Michael: This is more cultural.

  • Why do Americans wear shoes inside the house, on the bed, etc.?”

  • I feel like this depends and this is starting to change, I take my shoes off in most houses

  • but I guess it's more so for comfort whereas I feel like, on the east side of the world,

  • it's more of like a cleanliness kind of a thing.

  • And if you do still wear your shoes, it's pretty taboo.

  • Whereas in the States, I feel like most people, from my experience, anecdotal evidence, just

  • personal experience, most places, you take off your shoes.

  • But if they have a party, they let people wear shoes inside the house.

  • They don't care.

  • And a lot of my friends will see American movies and they see somebody, the main character,

  • wearing their shoes on the bed, on the couch, something like that.

  • Again, from my experience, it's not that big of a deal but typically you wouldn't do that.

  • For me, the rule of thumb, the unsaid rule is that you can put your shoes up but you

  • don't let your shoes touch the couch.

  • You kind of hang off, right.

  • So, if you want to lay on the couch without taking your shoes off, you let your feet hang

  • off.

  • Because, of course, they're going to get dirty but it's just not as emphasized as much in

  • our culture.

  • I don't know.

  • Alisha: The last question I have isCan I ask a question?”

  • The answer isYes.”

  • In probably 95% of cases the answer to the question, “Can I ask a question?” isYes.”

  • Okay.

  • Why did I choose this question?

  • My students sometimes will put their hands up in my lesson and say, “Can I ask a question?”

  • One, this is your English class.

  • Yes, please ask questions.

  • But two, also this is a discussion I've been having with a few people recently.

  • Just about the mindset that I think is really important when speaking English.

  • We have experience teaching in Asia where maybe there's a different approach to conversations.

  • I don't know if this is the same cultural approach to conversations that people from

  • other countries have but don't wait for permission to speak.

  • Don't wait to jump into a conversation.

  • Just go for it.

  • Don't wait for someone to say, “Oh, would you like to speak now?” because that's never

  • going to happen.

  • Michael: So, don't be shy.

  • Get your tongue out and say things and don't worry if it sounds rude or too polite or whatever.

  • Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

  • Alisha: Yeah, it's a shift in mindset.

  • When you start speaking that second language, like you said, if you just change your mind,

  • just a little bit, just make a small shift in your mindset maybe you'll see, “Ah, that's

  • what it takes.”

  • Just let go a little bit of your home language and see what happens.