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  • Today were studying words that are difficult in English because of the sound combinations.

  • Don’t worry, theyre not just difficult for non-native speakers.

  • They can be difficult for native speakers too.

  • So, and I also struggle with, and there’s no synonym for this one: rural.

  • Rural. I get questions about that.

  • R-U-R-A-L. It’s very difficult. Rural.

  • Now, I’m noticing a pattern. Withregularlyandrural’, I think youre having issues with R’s and L’s maybe.

  • I have always struggled with the R.

  • And I don’t know why. Can you help me?

  • I can.

  • Rural?

  • Yeah, that’s a tough word.

  • Were going to go over it, break it down, make it easier to pronounce, along with several other difficult words.

  • And yes well study the mouth movements of these tricky sound combinations

  • with up close, slow motion shots.

  • Craig Melvin is a broadcaster for NBC and he said rural is a tricky word, he also said regularly.

  • R’s and Ls’s.

  • These are sounds youre going to be seeing a lot of in this video.

  • In fact, each word in this video has both sounds.

  • Regularly

  • Regularly

  • Part of what we can do to make this word easier is focus on stress.

  • The first syllable is stressed.

  • Re-.

  • For the first R, you need a lot of lip rounding.

  • Re-.

  • Let’s see that up close.

  • Regularly

  • Can you believe how much the lips round for a beginning R?

  • The tip of the tongue is pulled back and up a little bit inside the mouth, rrr.

  • Re--

  • Then the jaw drops and we have the EH vowel in the stressed syllable.

  • Quite a bit of jaw drop.

  • The tongue tip is down and the middle part of the tongue lifts up.

  • This is a lot more jaw drop than well get in the rest of the word with the unstressed syllables.

  • Here we see the tongue move a little bit.

  • This is at the back of the tongue as the back lifts.

  • Reg--

  • The back of the tongue goes up to touch for the G: ggg---

  • It's touches the soft palate.

  • Reg, reg.

  • Regularly.

  • Now we have three unstressed syllables.

  • Regularly.

  • Regularly.

  • Youll see that the lips don’t round nearly as much for this second R

  • because it doesn’t begin a stressed syllable.

  • The lip position is more relaxed.

  • Simplifying your mouth movements and mouth positions

  • in unstressed syllables will help you sound more natural when speaking,

  • it will help you focus on stress, and I think it will make these difficult words easier to say.

  • Let’s look at the mouth for the rest of this word.

  • Regu--

  • Y sound, schwa as the mouth moves into position for the L.

  • This is a light L because it comes before the vowel or diphthong in the syllables.

  • The Y sound is made with the back of the tongue on the roof of the mouth.

  • Yy--- yy--

  • It’s up there for the G, it slides forward as it comes down.

  • Regu-, regu-. Regularly.

  • Regul--

  • The light L can be made two different ways, with the tongue here,

  • pressing up on the bottom of the top front teeth, or inside the mouth, pressing up on the roof of the mouth.

  • Next we have the schwa-R.

  • The R absorbs the schwa, so you don’t need to try to make a separate sound.

  • It's just R: Reg-u-lar--rrrr--

  • Right from L to R.

  • Youll be able to see the tip of the tongue pull back and up for the R.

  • So here’s the R.

  • See how the lip position is different from the beginning R?

  • Much more relaxed.

  • Let’s compare the two.

  • Beginning R, much more rounded.

  • R ending a syllable, much more relaxed.

  • The tongue tip still pulls back and up though.

  • Regularly.

  • Now we move into another Light L, and again the tongue is pushing up against the bottom of the top front teeth.

  • Then the tongue tip will go back into the mouth, behind the front bottom teeth, for the EE vowel: Ly--

  • The front part of the tongue is arching towards the roof of the mouth.

  • Let’s watch that word a few times slowly.

  • Regularly.

  • Regularly.

  • Regularly.

  • When youre practicing a longer word like this, it does help to break it up

  • and practice it just the stressed syllables and just the unstressed syllables.

  • Reg-ularly. Reg-ularly.

  • It also helps to practice it slowed down.

  • Regularly. Regularly.

  • That’s something we do a lot of in my online school Rachel’s English Academy.

  • If you can’t get it at regular pace, slow it down,

  • work out the movements, make that comfortable before trying it again quickly.

  • This feels like a lot of work, but youre not going to have to do this for every word,

  • just those words or phrases that are especially tricky for you.

  • So now youll hear it, youll see it three times, then a fourth time with no sound,

  • you say it that fourth time, in slow motion.

  • Regularly.

  • Regularly.

  • Regularly.

  • Now let’s tackle Rural.

  • Rural.

  • Beginning R, that’s going to be a really tight circle of the lips

  • with the tip of the tongue pulled back and up.

  • Rr-- Rural. Rr--

  • Yes indeed, a tight circle for the lips.

  • Wait.

  • Before we go further with that, I have to show you a clip from 30 Rock,

  • the pronunciation of the wordruralwas actually a joke for their entire episode.

  • Oh, this isn't for TGS. It's for my movie. The rural juror has a limited release next week.

  • Oh, congratulations! I didn't know they had a release date for the rur-- for that movie.

  • Rural juror.

  • Basically that phrase is almost entirely an R sound.

  • Let’s get back to the word.

  • The first syllable is stressed, it starts with the R sound.

  • now the next sound is tricky because it’s followed by an R in the same syllable.

  • The vowel is the vowel in book, cook, push, uh.

  • UH.

  • But the R that follows it does change it.

  • Youll hear a couple of different pronunciations of this word,

  • but the most common is to make this an R vowel,

  • Rur-al.

  • Rural.

  • Let’s look at it.

  • from the tight circle for the beginning R, the lips relax a bit for the R vowel.

  • Lips are still flared though.

  • The tongue has relaxed position just a bit.

  • The tongue isn’t quite as close to the roof of the mouth.

  • Now there is a little re-emphasis of the R

  • as the tongue does go back up a little closer to the roof of the mouth again.

  • Rrruuu--- rruu---

  • I totally get why this word is so frustrating to practice.

  • Working on it will help you improve your R sound.

  • Because you can’t do this word without an American R.

  • Ruuur-- so I start with an R, then I let the tongue lower just a bit, and then I bring it back up again.

  • Rrruuu-- rural-- rural.

  • Then we have the second, unstressed syllable.

  • Youll see the lips relax.

  • You can’t see the tongue, but the tip is coming back down behind the bottom front teeth.

  • What? This is an L.

  • Inregularly’, we saw that tongue tip came here, ll.

  • But that was a light L. This is a dark L.

  • It comes after the vowel in the syllable.

  • The Dark L is made with the back of the tongue and the tongue tip down relaxed.

  • Watch.

  • Rural.

  • You will not see a tongue position like what we saw onregularlywith the Light L.

  • No tongue tip visible.

  • So you go straight from the R to the dark sound.

  • Rruuurraal. Uhl.

  • L is a syllabic consonant.

  • It absorbs the schwa. You don’t need to try to make that sound.

  • Rural. Uhl.

  • Just make that dark sound, tongue tip down, and the dark sound made with the back of the tongue.

  • Uhl. uhl. The tongue presses down in the back just a little bit to make the dark sound. Rural.

  • Let’s watch it three times slowly,

  • then we'll play it again silently, it's your turn to practice it out loud that fourth time.

  • Rural.

  • Rural.

  • Rural.

  • Rural.

  • A tough word.

  • But again, if you practice it slowly, intentionally, it will get much easier.

  • Who knows, maybe it will end up being your favorite words.

  • Before we move on to the next word, let me give a shout-out to Cambly who sponsored this video.

  • I know a lot of you are teachers and I know a lot of you are parents.

  • Cambly has a great way to help your kids learn English

  • and sound natural because theyre learning from native teachers.

  • Cambly has courses for kids aged 4-15.

  • They will meet with an experience one-on- one teacher on a completely

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