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The abc & communicative spelling! - Elementary / Pre-intermediate - Useful Language
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The ABC & a communicative spelling method!

Listen! Listen external link (edited transcript, not the audio: 2 small changes)

ABCDEFG eibisidi-i-ef-lli

HIJK eich-ai-jeikei

LMNOP elemenoupi

QRS kiu-ar-es

TUV ti-iu-Vi

WXYZ dabliu-eks-guai-Zi (USA) or Zed (UK)

B is not V
B is for Barcelona
V is for "very" – Thank you very much

Barcelona is very nice

C is not Z
C is for "cinema"
Z is for "jazz"
Can you spell "jazz"?
Yes, I can. J-A-Z-Z (USA)
If you are British, you say: J-A-double zed!

Are you from the USA or are you British?
I'm from the USA.
Then, my family name is: FERNANDEZ – That's F-E-R-N-A-N-D-E-Zee!
No, I'm British!
Then, my family name is: FERNANDEZ – That's F-E-R-N-A-N-D-E-Zed!

C is not TH
C has different sounds:
C = sii, as in "cinema", "city centre"
C = k, as in "cat", "car", "come"
Th has two different sounds:
Th = Ð, as in "the", "there", "they"
Th = Ө, as in "think", "Thursday", "thirtieth"

Cinema ≠ Three

C is not S but it sounds like S sometimes!

G is not J

K is not Q
K is for "key"
CK is a typical combination! "Black", "Fuck!", "pocket", "o'clock"
Q is not K
Q is for IQ (intelligence quotient)
Q is for BBQ, barbecue, barbeque, Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Que! A barbie, in Australia and New Zealand!

R is a homophone of ARE, as in "You are"
When you text someone, if you write: "RUOK?" this means "R-U-OK" = Are you OK?


Learn the vowels too!


Let's spell names now!



Now, what about "el acento"? There are no accents in English, so you need to say: "with a French accent on the 'a'"

And what about "la eñe"? Aha! There are no "eñes" in English, so you need to say: just an N, or...
"with a wiggly line over the 'n'", "an 'n' with a squiggly line on top" "an 'n' with a squiggly line over the 'n'"

G is for "gin", "oh, gee!"
J is for "DJ"
J rhymes with K – J-K!

When somebody asks you: "What's your name?", don't answer "My name is María/Juan". That's only good for informal situations. For formal and semiformal situations you should always answer: "My name is… + first name + family name".

In the USA, the family name is also called "second name", and it is typical to have a middle name, which is often a mystery, like Catherine Z. Jones.

In Britain, the family name is called "surname".

In English-speaking countries, people use one family name. In Spain we use two family names. And it is typical that we have two or three first names!

So if someone asks you: "What's your name?", you should answer:

--My name is María José Martínez Segovia
--Can you spell it, please?
--Yes. I'm going to spell my first name. That's 2 words: María José. The first word is María. M-A-R-I-A. María. The second word is José. J-O-S-E. José.
--Are you OK?
--Yes, thank you. And what's your family name, then?
--We use two family names. The first name is Martínez. M-A-R-T-I-N-E-Z. Shall I repeat?
--No, it's OK. And the second?
--The second name is Segovia. S-E-G-O-V-I-A. Segovia.
--Thank you very much!

Practice this very communicative spelling method!

There is another podcast episode on Spelling for Avanzad@s, in case you want more!