Study conversational English in this interview with NBC Broadcaster Rehema Ellis. See how even professionals use reductions and contractions all the time, and learn some new vocabulary.
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Hey guys, welcome to the new Rachel’s English mini series, Interview a Broadcaster!
>> Hey everyone. I’m here with Rehema Ellis. Could you tell my audience what you do?
>> I’m a broadcast journalist. I’m the chief education correspondent for NBC News.
>> Great! Well, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but another term for the standard American accent is ‘broadcaster English’. So people all over the world are looking to those in America who deliver the news as a standard for how to speak American English. So I’m curious, where are you from? Did you have to change anything about the way you speak when you got interested in this field?
>> Well, I was born in North Carolina, so they have a southern accent, I was raised in Boston where they have a Boston accent.
>> But I have neither. I’m not quite sure how that happened
because both my parents did have southern accents.
>> But I don’t.
N’T contractions can be a real challenge for non-native speakers because native speakers don’t release the T. We make an N sound and cut it short. Don’t, doesn’t can’t, for example. Did you hear how Ms. Ellis said ‘don’t’? ‘But I don’t’. She didn’t release the T. That would be ‘don’t’. Don’, don’. But I don’t.
>> But I don’t. [3x]
>> Wow. So you didn’t have to work for it.
>> Well, I won’t say I didn’t have to work for it, but I had great teachers. We’re standing in front of the Education Nation banner, and I don’t recall…
I don’t recall. Again, no released T sound. Don’t recall [2x]
>> And I don’t recall [3x], but I don’t think most people hear themselves with an accent. But I
watched television. And most of the people on television didn’t have accents.
Didn’t have accents. Again, no released T in the N’T ending. Didn’t, didn’t, didn’t have accents.
>> And most of the people on television didn’t have accents. [3x]
>>So, I’m not quite sure why people do anyway.
>> Uh-huh. So, when you’re preparing a text to read in front of the camera, how much time do you spend with it, what do you do to sort of help yourself prepare for that?
>> It’s crazy to say I spend as much time as I can or I’m given. Sometimes I’m not given a lot of time because you’re rushing to an event and it’s happening now.
>> So, you don’t have a whole lot of time.
You don’t have, don’t have. Again, no released T.
>> So you don’t have [3x] a who lot of time. It’s like, um, so, what I do is, I’m a fast study, I’m a fast read. And, if I write my script on my iPad or my laptop, I will read it over as many times as I possibly can.
>> Out loud? or?
>> Yeah. Out loud. Because I want to hear how it sounds.
>> Mm-hmm. Great. What do you do when you come across a word that you don’t know how to pronounce?
>> I ask my producer, Sue Kroll.
>> Okay. And then do you, they’ll, you hear it, do you, is it better for you to read, visually get the pronunciation, or, do you need to hear it in order for it to make sense?
>> Sometimes I’ll write it down, trying to write it out phonetically.
>> Phonetically. Yeah.
>> Yeah. And I’ll just ask someone, say it to me again. And again, and again.
>> Right. And otherwise, I’ll try and change the word.
>> Okay. To something that you know.
>> That I can pronounce.
>> Hey, that’s fair. Um, are there any words in American English that you know are going to trip you up that you have a problem with?
>> It’s a deadly word. But is, p–, uh, I can’t say it!
Can’t say, can’t, can’t. This one is especially hard because if we don’t release the T, how do you know it’s not ‘can’, the very opposite of ‘can’t’? Check out this video that explains the difference.
>> I can’t say it, [3x] posthumously.
>> Oh yeah. That’s a tough word. Avoid that word at all costs.
>> And you don’t have to say it that many, um, there’s not that much, many times that you have to say that
>> word, but if I do, I will change it if I
>> can. Because as you could see, I can’t say it.
>> Right, yeah.
>> You say it.
>> Ah, see there?
>> You know what, for the record, I’m pretty sure that’s how you say it. I will look it up before editing the final cut of this video.
Posthumously. A great vocabulary word. It means, something that happens after one’s death. So, if someone is, for example, given an award after he or she has died, that award is given posthumously. Another example, if a book is published after the author dies, it is published posthumously. This is a four-syllable word with stress on the first syllable. DA-da-da-da. Post-hu-mous-ly. Posthumously.
>> Alright, well thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it, I know my audience appreciates it.
>> My pleasure.
Follow Ms. Ellis on Twitter and check out her segments on TV or online for a great example of American English pronunciation.
>> Alright guys, that’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
Check out all the videos in the Interview a Broadcaster series by clicking here, or on the link in the video description below.