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English students are faced with learning how to divide unfamiliar multisyllabic words into syllables in order to pronounce them. One important pattern to learn is about closed and open syllables. The most frequent two syllable patterns are the closed VCCV (vowel-consonant-consonant-vowel) and the open V/CV (vowel/consonant-vowel) patterns. These will be showcased below.


Oftentimes, in between syllables, English words may have two consonants next to each other. Some consonants may be the same, called doublets; others are two different consonants. Closed syllables are those which are closed by a consonant. The pronunciation of the syllable will be short as the doubling consonant or extra consonant preserves the short sound.


Pronounce the following closed syllable examples:








Open syllables are those which end in a long-vowel sound. The long-vowel sound is the “name” of a vowel in the English alphabet: A, E, I, O, U (with U sounding like “oo”).


Pronounce the following open syllable examples:








Determine which are which…open or closed…and pronounce them:








See you next week for more Monday Mouthfuls!

Good afternoon, English as a Second Language students! There are many websites that can help you practice your pronunciation. Today, I'm going to feature two websites that you should check out if you want to brush up on your pronunciation.


1.    Rachel's English

Rachel is a trained classical singer and an ESL teacher. As a singer, she had to learn several languages, so she became very astute at noticing subtle differences between sounds and words. As a result, she developed this site. There are more than 300 videos to help you learn. If you look under sounds, you can focus on individual sounds that are difficult to produce. She thoroughly describes how to make every sound. If you look under pronunciation, you can focus on the many things speakers are doing that you don't always learn right away, such as reduction, linking and intonation. You can also try exercises--either imitation or Ben Franklin. These are fun! This site is unbelievably helpful if you are trying to improve your accent, so I hope you try it.


2. English Pronunciation

This website is brought to you by a Canadian college. Don't worry, the Canadian accent is very close to the Wisconsin English accent. This website helps you discriminate between sounds called minimal pairs, e.g., words that differ by one sound, such as "like" and "bike." You can learn how to produce the sound by description or downloading a clip. The pdf is a classroom lesson. If you have a partner, you can practice speaking, and they can check your pronunciation by listening while you pronounce minimal pairs and also dictation. There are several tongue twisters in the lesson if you'd like to really test yourself, too. Take time to explore!


I hope you have a moment or two to take a look at these resources. Feel free to share any online resource that helps you.


See you next week on Monday Mouthfuls with Kelly.

This week, I will demonstrate some other peculiar things that may be going on while native English speakers link their speech, such as: coarticulation, assimilation and intrusion.


  1. Coarticulation happens when sounds of two words overlap each other. This occurs often with the final /d/ sound links to an initial /n/. Basically, when this occurs, there is no air or aspiration coming from the /d/, rather the /n/ is aspirated; this means the gap between both sounds is extremely small, so there is no pause between sounds.


   Say the following several times: 


Good night.    Bad knee.    Did not!


  • You should feel your tongue touch the roof of your mouth upon making the /d/ sound
  • Then it should push off to make an /n/.


  2.  Assimilation occurs when the pronunciation of certain words are changed when they merge together.


A commonly found occurrence is when a final /t/ or /d/ sound comes before the initial /y/ sound of a new word.


Final /t/ and initial /y/ = /ʧ/ or /ch/           Don’t you want to join us?   =  DON CHEW want to join us?

Final /d/ and initial /y/ = /j/                         Did you go there before? = DI JEW go there before?

  3. Intrusion involves adding a sound between two words. Typically, we add a /w/ or /y/ sound.


Try saying, “Do it.” Your lips look like you are about to kiss someone when you make an /oo/ sound. That same lip position is the beginning of the /w/ sound. So, add the /w/ to “it.”


The result is:       Do WIT.


Try saying, “He asked.” The long /e/ sound gets your mouth and tongue in the position of saying a /y/, so add a /y/ to “asked.”


The result is:       He YASKED.



Thanks for reading this week’s blog on linking. See you next week!

Some English as a Second Language students demand to learn how to pronounce every word "perfectly," but it is extremely difficult if not impossible. Many students think that in order to speak every word perfectly, every word should be practiced in isolation and not in relation to the other words in the sentence. If students do this, they will be losing out on the rhythm. They will stay frustrated because they think that no matter how much they practice their pronunciation, they don’t sound natural. The ironic thing is, Americans don't use perfect pronunciation anyway. One reason is because fluent speakers usually link words together when they talk. Nevertheless, there are many different types of linking; today, we are just going to focus on one type—BLENDING.

Blending occurs when a final consonant sound of a word connects to a beginning vowel sound of a subsequent word. Read the first sentence by trying to pronounce every word perfectly with pauses between every word. This will sound extremely unnatural.

          Sentence: Pick up your clothes in your room.

Now, try to blend or link the indicated words together. This practice results in a completely different rhythm.

          Sentence with underlined links:  Pick up your clothes in your room.

          Pronunciation:   PI CUP your CLO THSIN your room.



     Try saying the following linked sentences:

I don’t need another piece of cake. = I don’t NEE DAnother PIE SOF cake.

They haven’t tried organic food. = They haven’t TRIE DORganic food.

Sometimes I take care of my pets at home. = SomeTIME SI take CA ROF my PET SAT home.



So, how can you study this? Use any text, assignment, project, etc. that your professor gives you. Link the final consonant sound in the first word to the first vowel sound in the second word with your pencil. Read it out loud. Memorize parts of it and say it out loud. IF THE SECOND WORD BEGINS WITH A CONSONANT SOUND, DO NOT LINK!

Or, listen to a TED talk online. Google search "Ted talks" and choose a topic you like. Play the clip for a moment to make sure the accent is an American English speaker. Click on "Transcript" below the video on the right. Print it out or cut and paste it. Link words together by connecting them with lines as you hear, or as you anticipate. Replay and practice saying these words out loud.

You will learn more about linking next week on “Monday Mouthfuls,” with Kelly Flemming.

Iambically Speaking


Most English speakers speak in iambs—a rhythmic pattern that sounds like a heartbeat—unstressed syllable/stressed syllable. One way to hear this is to say the following out loud: dead ANT dead ANT or lub DUB lub DUB with the emphasis on the capitalized words. When you emphasize or stress a syllable, your voice is higher in pitch and the syllable is longer.


Not every phrase will work this way; emphasis varies for many reasons. Shakespeare, who was famous for using iambic pentameter (5 iambs per line), sometimes cheated by using contractions, punctuation or other meter to emphasize his main points. Take a look at his most famous speech in Hamlet:


To BE or NOT to BE—that IS the QUEStion.

WHEther ‘tis NObler in MIND to SUFfer

the SLINGS and ARrows of outRAGEous FORtune

or to take ARMS aGAINST a SEA of TROUbles and

by opPOSing END them. To DIE-  to SLEEP-

No MORE...(III. i. 57-62).


To practice speaking in iambs, say the following, with the emphasis on the second syllable (or word):



It’s TIME to TAKE a NAP.


They NEED to STUdy MORE on TUESday.

His BEST friend DOESn’t LIVE here ANyMORE.


Learning to listen to and speak in iambic patterns help non-native English speakers sound more natural. Listen to Americans talk on their cell phones or share gossip at lunch. Mimic what you hear, but don’t let them hear you! You can also do this while you are watching a tv show, movie or video clip. Or, listen to and read the lyrics of a song you like in English. Maybe you’ll get a hang of the rhythm!


Tune in for Linking on the next Monday Mouthfuls, a new blog on Pronunciation.

Final Exams are just a few days away.  Before you know it, you will be sitting in that chair and the instructor will be passing out the final exam that you have been studying so hard for.  It is normal for you to feel some anxiety as you sit down to take your final.  Even if you know you are prepared, it is hard not to worry about how you will perform on the test.

Here are seven things you can do at Test Time

1. Relax, take a deep breath. Know it will be over in two hours.

2. Write down the formulas you know on the back of the test. This is called “brain dumping”.  This will help you focus on the problems.

3. Look through the test. Start with the ones that look to be the easiest.  I call this banking your points.  There is no rule that says you have to start with #1.

4. Determine how long you have on each problem.  Count the problems and divide by 120 minutes.

5. If you get stuck move on. Come back to it.  Chances are another problem will help you figure out what you need.

6. Don’t second guess your answer. Many times students change their right answer to a wrong one.

7. If you have time, go back and check your work.

As you start to study, you need to make sure you are aware of your instructor’s expectations of you and what material will be on the final exam.  Some students will cram the day before their exam.  However, studying for shorter periods over a few extra days will pay off.  Most four credit math classes have three exams before the final exam.  If not, adjust the schedule below to fit the number of exams you took. Professors suggest that you study approximately 2 hours a day.


Day One:

Review Exam #3.  Correct all errors on the exam.  Here are some things that will help:

  • Review similar examples from the lecture notes and homework.
  • Make an appointment with Gina Moran or your math professor.
  • Cover up the answers and try to take the entire exam again.  At first, don’t use your notes.  If you are not comfortable with your results, then look for similar problems from homework, lecture notes, or the book.


Day Two:

Repeat the steps above, but now with Exam #2.  In addition, practice the problems from Exam #3 that you struggled the most with.


Day Three:

Repeat the steps above, but now with Exam #1.  In addition, practice the problems from previous exams that need more attention.


Day Four:

Write a practice exam by using problems from all your exams, lecture notes, homework, or other items the instructor might have given you, but make sure you have accurate solutions. Take your test without using any notes and then compare with your solutions.


Day Five:

For the remaining days before the final, reflect on what you have learned in the class as you practice, practice, and practice.  But remember, eat well and get good sleep the night before the exam!!!


Good luck on your final exams.

Gina Moran

ESL Math Coordinator, ESL Department

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Mathematics Department

Finals week can be a scary time for college students, but have no fear. With the right preparation and study habits, you'll master those exams and finish your classes with high grades. Here's a great article on important tips to help you ace those finals week exams.


25 crucial study tips for finals week | USA TODAY College


Also, please feel free to visit the German Academy building (Suite 112) to meet with the Academic Transitions Team. I, Mark Fischer, and Gina Moran would love to help you with English writing, speaking, reading, and listening. Math assistance is also provided. In addition to that, we can offer advice on studying more effectively for your final exams.


You can also email me to schedule an appointment at I look forward to helping you be a success here at MSOE!

If you have ANY questions or difficulties with the English language or adjusting to cultural life in America, we can help you.


As we enter into week 10, final essays and projects become due and final exams are right around the corner. The Academic Transitions Team here in the ESL Department is here to remind you that you are not alone.


If you want someone check over that essay one more time so you can get the best grade possible, come see us. If you need tips for the best way to study, we can teach you those skills to help you remember material and do better on those exams.


Below are just a few of the ways we can help you. Be sure to check back often this week as we will be writing additional posts on specific study tips and opportunities.


If you would like to meet with us, please e-mail or stop by GA suite 112F.


We can help you:


  • Check your essays and assignments so you can communicate ideas more clearly.
  • Increase your understanding grammar and know when to use specific grammar points.
  • Increase your understanding of plagiarism and cultural expectations.
  • Develop your writing process and increase your writing speed.


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  • Create and practice class presentations.
  • Improve pronunciation, intonation, and accent reduction.
  • Increase class discussion participation, leadership skills, and confidence.
  • Understand idioms, slang, and cultural speech.



  • Improve skills and strategies for learning new vocabulary.
  • Understand cultural background in course material.
  • Understand testing instructions, course assignments, and homework expectations.
  • Increase reading speed, comprehension, and critical thinking.



  • Improve note-taking organization and speed.
  • Understand lectures and lecture structure.
  • Predict topics the professor will cover.


   ESL Related Math:

  • Understanding symbols and formulas as well as connecting them to methods in your language.
  • Understand terminology and be able to use it in conversations and explanations.
  • Practice a variety of problems to help understand how and why the methods are practiced and used.


   Test Taking:

  • Develop study strategies for all types of tests.
  • Develop test taking strategies in order to understand and answer test questions effectively and more quickly.
  • Assist in providing testing accommodations for students in need.


   And Much More!

Test Your English & Math Skills Weekly!

Win Gift Cards or Movie Tickets!

Visit the German Academy Building (Suite 112) for

The Word of the Week


The Math Problem of the Week

(This contest is for international undergraduate students only.

For more information open the attached document.)

Good luck!

Since we are an engineering school, last Friday we put the ESL students to the test to design and construct the most creative gingerbread houses they could think of. Many students were unfamiliar with the concept of gingerbread houses so we were able to share some American traditions with them as well! A huge thanks goes out to Betty Albrecht, Dana Grennier, Mark Anderson and Kelly Flemming for taking time out of their schedules to judge the competition.








                                   The winning gingerbread competition and team below.


Halloween is a new experience for many international students so this week we've been sharing some of the typical traditions that we do as Americans around this time of year. Many students decided to take part in the tradition of dressing up in costumes! Check out some of the great costumes below.









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