The spelling of English words doesn't always give us a clear indication of the pronunciation. Many people learned at a young age that |Oo| spelling makes a moving, "ihw" sound 100% of the time. While this is often the case, |Oo| sometimes requires no movement of the lips. We see this with dozens of common, everyday words and expressions.
Listen along here and better understand the difference between words like "Luke" and "Look", and work this sound into your own daily English words and expressions!
Check out my video course on Udemy to master your use of Syllable stress!
Follow along with these common phrases:
Football game | We misunderstood | White sugar | Good book | Good look
Practice For yourself with these Minimal Pairs
Look v Luke | Full v Fool | Foot v Food
Work these idiomatic expressions into your daily life!
1. Hit the books Focusing and studying hard
I had better hit the books to get a good grade!
2. A smart cookie An intelligent person
That kid’s a smart cookie, he hits the books often.
3. Shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’ Wishing to change something
Shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’, there’s nothing we can do.
4. When push comes to shove Something gets more difficult
When push comes to shove, I’ll get the job done right.
Welcome to the accent training podcast, a podcast where I give you tips on how you can enhance the sound of your spoken English. My name is pat and I help people feel a little more confident in the way that they speak, feel confident that the words that they're using and the pronunciations that they're using for each of these important words matches the sound of the average American English speaker. Now I've got a good topic for you folks today. Something that a lot of people are misunderstood on. A lot of my student have told me that they've really pushed themselves to get this sound correctly, but they just couldn't do it. And this sound is this U that I keep on exaggerating a little bit and stretching out in these words. Good, misunderstood push could , uh , it's not an U I'm not going , uh , good. Uh , but neither am I going? Ooh , I'm not going good . It Luke . Good , good . Now I'm not quite doing that. I'm actually not moving my lips at all. When I make this sound kind of keeping them totally neutral and that's something I wanna help you with today. And my friends listen closely because I've got a lesson today that concerns non-native speakers all over the world. Now, just before we get into that, I've gotta tell you my friend, this podcast, the accent training podcast, formerly known as the English out loud podcast is releasing one episode a week. Some to times that episode is going to be about the sounds of the accent. Like today. Other times it's gonna be tips about speaking in general, other times the episode's gonna contain just a bunch of suggestions and advanced words and phrases that you can use to sound a little more natural in your spoken English. Now, if you wanna be the first of all your friends to know about whenever new content comes out, whenever new episodes are available, make sure that you hit subscribe. Make sure that you follow this podcast. Subscribe it, thumbs up, whatever it takes to get notified. As soon as new content comes out, all right , let's get into some stuff for today. Now, folks, let's see what we're working with and how we can adjust our spoken English to match that of an American native English speaker. Today, we're working with lacks . You sound , uh , uh , good, good , good. This sounds not terribly difficult. Honestly. The movement for it, isn't complicated. Not like some of the things we've seen in the past. However, what is complicated about this is that you can't tell when it's gonna come based on the spelling. Often it appears in words with an O O sometimes it's just an oh , sometimes it's an OU. Sometimes it's a you . So today we're not gonna get into a lot of detail about the spelling and how you can identify it with the spelling. We're just gonna look at a bunch of common words, things that I'm sure you can work into your daily life with no problem. And of course, the reason why we're gonna look at common words is because the best way to develop this is through consistent repetition. When we consider the word good, a word that I've mentioned a few times already today, a lot of people will exaggerate the pronunciation of that sound and they'll kind of move their lips when they say it to make this Ew sound. And instead of getting a good they'll get a good that's good . Good . Now I can tell you why you do that. It's because that's what they told you in school. Most likely at a very young age, they told you that they told you, oh, oh , makes an Ooh sound in English. And fair enough. It does often with words like school cool loop . Ooh , but not always. Sometimes the oh , oh , spelling gets a flat and quick sound with no movement from the lips or the tongue , just one static unmoving position. So how do we make that position? Well , I've got three quick little steps for you to follow the that'll ensure a nice, consistent sound. Now, unfortunately, I can't listen or tell you how it sounds or give you any feedback, but just try and play around with this and match my sound by following these directions. So first we keep our lips totally neutral for this sound. We don't move our lips at you gotta keep 'em neutral. In fact, I'll make a video for Instagram. So this is on the podcast. It's on Instagram. Here's what we've got when we're making this , uh , sound that we find in good should look, book wood. We wanna make sure that we keep our lips relaxed. We don't wanna be bending the lips. We don't wanna be moving them inwards, getting an Ooh sound goo , Ooh , lips stay relaxed. And so check the video out on Instagram and you can see my lips not moving totally relaxed. My jaw is static. I'm moving . Static means I'm moving . And my teeth are so close together that the bottom of teeth are going kind of under the top teeth. Uh , uh , finally I'm resting my tongue on the tops of my bottom teeth. It's right around the middle of my mouth. And I'm just voice in that position. Uh , uh , I'm not dropping my jaw, not getting , uh , uh , or anything like that. Uh, and I'm not moving my lips. I'm not going, Ooh . Ooh , good . But my lips are static. My teeth are very close together and my tongue unmoving flat and low in my mouth. Uh , uh , let's put this to a couple words. Shall we repeat after me? Good. Good look, look, and let's put those two words together. Good, good look. That's actually a nice idiom. Good. Look my jaw. Very static. It's not moving at all. Good look. And if you tell someone good look, it's like saying they've got good style. They look good. Now. As a matter of fact, I, once I've got a , a family in England in Northern England, and I got a cousin who I was talking to him about an exam that I had coming up and , and he said to me, good look good. Look now to him. That was the same as saying, good luck. Good luck. I , I mean to me, I understood good look like he likes how I'm dressed, but he was saying good luck in my accent. Good luck. That's how you can tell if you're getting the difference. If you're hearing the vowel change , uh , uh , you can see my jaw drops. If I get that , uh , uh , it's a little bit of , of a different sound than , uh , uh , keep an ear open, practice that yourself and you'll take your English miles. Let's see some more words on good look. Good. Look. How about the word wood wood? Isn't that an interesting one wood again, my teeth are very close together. My tongue is just flat on top of my teeth there. Uh , and my lips are not moving at all. It's not a wood , but a wood , uh , wood. Here's the great thing about the word wood. It can be a w O O D or w O U L D both come out sound and the same wood wood. And now a side note on that, w O U L D , that L is silent. It doesn't get pronounced at all. It's not woo like w O U L D woo , but wood wood . And for that matter, we should also consider the words could , should , uh , could, should wood could, should wood again, my lips are not moving at all. Totally static for that sound could, should wood. So how about an idiomatic expression using those three words? I've got a good one for you . Coulda shoulda , woulda , coulda, shoulda , woulda , coulda, shoulda , woulda . What is that coulda? Shoulda woulda . Well that's like saying could have, should have, would have we use this in situations when we feel that we could have done things better. Like, for example, suppose at one day you're walking out the door and you should I check if it's gonna rain and then you think, ah , I don't have time and you leave, you go out, take the bus into the city, you do whatever. And then it starts raining. It starts pouring down, raining cats and dogs, as they say, and you say to yourself, I could have brought umbrella . I should have just checked the weather app. And I would've known coulda, shoulda woulda. What can you do? You can't fix the situation coulda, shoulda . I mean , maybe it should'a coulda, woulda, shoulda , coulda, woulda , coulda, shoulda , woulda, shoulda , coulda, woulda. I repeating that to yourself. Coulda shoulda , woulda , shoulda , coulda, woulda . That's English practice right there. My friend. That's how you can get the hang of that. And I'll tell you what, if you don't practice these words, now you're gonna be thinking to yourself at some point, I should have listened to pat. I could have subscribed to the podcast and I'd have way better English skills. I'd be more prepared. I, I would've bought the video course. If I knew how important this was, should a , could a woulda, what can you do? So as we see with these words, good look, wood should could the other wood , w O U L D and w O O D the spelling changes. It can be spelled all different ways. Sometimes it's an O O sometimes it's an OU. Sometimes it's just a you , in words, like put push Bush . It's not a Bush , but a Bush now concerning that mix up that a lot of people do make , uh , and Ooh , sorts of sounds are gonna work on that a little bit right here. Let's just get the hang of this and see how we can feel the differences in the muscle movement between Ugh and Ooh . For example, look, look, and Luke, you see the lip movement again. I'm making a video on Instagram here, Luke, Luke bringing the corners of my lips inwards. Ooh , whereas look, look totally neutral. And our teeth are close together. Look, look, here's a couple more foot foot and food food. We don't wanna say quite food, food. You know it , uh , you could say it's a food long or the shoes on the other foot . I hear people mix that up, come and mix up. It's not your fault. Like I said, this is what you were taught. You were taught, oh , oh , is going to be pronounced. Ooh , but that's not always the case. Sometimes we keep the lips totally neutral. Keep the jaw very close together and we get foot foot instead of food, the tongues just flat kind of resting , uh , uh , resting on the bottom teeth and the teeth are close. Oh , go foot, foot. Another couple more here. Let's see a more full. And then fool, fool. Repeat those back to me, fool full . Now I'll make another episode in the future to cover that. Ooh , sound, cuz that honest to God, in my opinion , that's the trickiest vowel sound for non-native speakers to adjust to people all over the world, struggle with that full Ooh sort of you know, w glide sound. Ooh , we'll look at that later, but for now, keep in mind full, full no lip movement. Fool . Fool has a bit of a lip movement. Where do we go from here? How do we keep on practicing this? We've got a good list of words here. Uh , and Ooh , that we wanna keep feeling the difference for in those minimal pairs. We've got a , a, a bunch that we've practiced so far could, should wood. Good. And we've noted how wood can be spelled two different ways. W O O D can be wood and w O U L D can also be wood. Same sound, totally different meanings. Where do we go from here? Well, some common phrases, common phrases that you use in your daily life that you just can't avoid and that are going to help you take full control of your spoken English. Let's see what we got here, folks. Now the first one is gonna be a very tricky one for a lot of people to overcome because it's very likely that your native language has a similar word and that word is football. Repeat that back to me there. Football. How about football game football game again, I'm not giving it a football . A lot of people will say it that way. Football getting an Ooh , Ooh . Bring in the corners of the lips, right towards the middle. Like I said, that's not your fault. It's a part of your speech. It's a part of who you are. But if it's something that you wanna have a little control over, you're totally capable of it. Just let your lips relax a little more football, football game, football game. Totally relaxed lips. Not stretching them towards the middle. Here's another one for you here. I understood. Stood not as stew , but understood. I understood keeping the lips totally neutral. Totally flat. Not stretching. 'em out. Just an , uh , sort of sound understood. Let's hear another good book we've spoken about. Good look . Good look. But how about this one? Good book. Good book. We're being very careful here, even though there's a lot of, Ooh , Ooh , sort of spellings in these two words, we're not gonna pronounce an Ooh , we're gonna keep the lips neutral and just get an , uh , good book. Let's see. Another one here has totally different spelling. This one has just a U for the spelling and it's the word? Sugar. I'm not giving it a sugar , nor am I giving it a sugar sh sugar , but I'm keeping my teeth real close together. Keeping my lips. Totally new neutral sugar, white sugar, white sugar. You had a little white sugar for your coffee, white sugar. So I imagine that you folks are starting to get an ear for this. Now this is a , it's pretty good sound to work with this lacks you , uh , sort of sound it's static. We're not moving the lips. We're not moving the jaw. We're not moving the tongue. We're keeping our everything totally neutral. Just a quick, quiet , uh , sound. Now, one more thing I'd like to talk about with you folks, as you are well aware is idiomatic expressions, idioms using the Ugh sound we've spoken about one already should or coulda, woulda, should , or coulda, woulda wishing that you could change something, which you really can't change. You say should or coulda what I, I should have done things differently. I coulda done this. I would've done that if only I knew should or could or woulda , Hey , there's nothing you can do. How about another idiom here with word cookie C O O K I E. It's not a cookie, but a cookie cookie. Keeping the jaw static , keeping the lips neutral and the tongue flat cookie, a smart cookie smart cookie. That kid's a smart cookie. He reads a lot of books. Smart cookie. Now speaking of books, how about hitting the books? Hit the books. Maybe you folks prefer to listen to podcasts or audio books . Maybe you don't, maybe you haven't really read many books lately and that's all right . I , I like audio books myself. I have been reading more books lately. Actually I've started reading rich dad, poor dad, trying to get a handle on my finances. And you know what? It's got some good to tips . It's got some good tips, definitely worth a read. Rich dad, poor dad. So myself, I'm someone who likes to hit the books. I like to read. I like learning things from people of generations before me. I like to hit the books. Now, one more idiomatic expression I'd like to talk about today is when put , push, not push, but push. When push comes to shove, when push comes to shove, this is saying when something gets more difficult, a , a push is, you know, just a subtle exchange of energy could be with one hand. Doesn't have to be hard. You push a B . It only takes one finger. A shove is both hands given a big strong push, a push. When push comes to shove, when things get increasingly difficult. When push comes to shove, I'll take care of business. When push comes to shove, I won't quit out on you quit out on you. That's an idiom from a couple weeks ago, we were talking about quitting, quitting six things. We quit. Quit out on you. When push comes to shove, I'll be there for you . I'll support you when things get tough. So folks, that's what I've got for you today . The lacks you the Ugh , Ugh , sound. It's not a terribly difficult sound to make, but what's tricky about it is identifying it as we've seen. It can be spelled with an O O an OU , just an O just a U . It is not fair. That English word aren't spelled the same way that they sound consistently. I know the reason for that is simply because English comes from so many different languages and so words, which may have a similar spelling may have a different sound. If the root language is different. So what do you think about this one? Is this something that you feel you can develop? Does it feel a little too overwhelming for you? Well, let me tell you that you surely can develop this, that this is a habit have spoken English, which many people have found easy to control over the years. And if you consider the words that we looked at today, take a look down in the description of this episode, and you can see those words listed in there. Consider those words in expressions, try to work them into your daily life. And you'll find that you're able to use sounds that you to didn't even know existed in no time. Well, we're gonna wrap this one up for today. I've gotta go get to other things. I've gotta edit this episode and upload those videos that I took to Instagram I've got work to do. And just so you know, in terms of this next video course that I'm working on, things are going just as planned. And I will have a lot more for folks to work within the days to come. So the video course comment along quite nicely. I've got plenty written up. I'm gonna start recording very soon. And then from there is the tedious job of editing. I love recording editing. Oh my goodness. It takes time. It takes time, but it's worth it. You know, it's worth it because it, it that I get great content out to you. My happy listener. Now that's the future video course. However, if you're looking for some video course content right now, make sure that you check the link in the description. My friend I've put together a fantastic video course. It's about four hours in total and you can get it on this website. You to me at a great discount. So check the link in the description. The video course is all about understanding how you can harness the strong and weak, strong and weak sounds of your spoken English and the role that the letter T has to play in this. If I say the word gotten , gotten that T's disappearing altogether, right? I've gotten in. However, if I say the word water, water, now that tea , it's not disappearing like in gotten , it's not becoming nasal. However, it's not making a regular true T sound either. I'm not saying water, but I'm saying water, water. So these are the habits that we develop in this video. Check it out, my friend, and learn to harness the potential of your spoken English. All right , we're gonna wrap things up for today. Thank you very much for listening. Keep working on your vowel sounds and keep an eye out for more episodes to come. I'm typically gonna have one out. Like I said, once a week, I'm trying for Tuesdays, Tuesdays, every Tuesday, I'll have some new stuff for you . Ideally midnight, my time. That would be the ideal time to get it out. However, like I said, concerning editing and stuff like that, it takes quite a while to get those things done. So, so maybe a little bit later than midnight, maybe it'll be, you know , midday, maybe midnight of Wednesday, whenever I'm gonna try to have it out Tuesday. So keep an eye out every Tuesday and we can connect for another great lesson. Thank you very much for your time today, folks, and have a good one.