Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 317. And today we are going to do a shadowing practice with Ana de Armas.
Hey, hey everyone. What is up? I hope you’re well. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode, and in particular, another shadowing episode. And today we are going to practice shadowing, and in that we’re gonna practice pronunciation, intonation, tone of voice, and even humor as we analyze the speech of Ana de Armas from SNL – Saturday Night Live.
She had a wonderful opening monologue, as most of their guests do, or all of their guests do. And one of my students, hi Soraya, if you’re listening, she posted a link to this video saying that she felt very inspired by her monologue; her being a non-native speaker and an actress, and doing such a great job and having such great command of the nuances of English. And I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to practice shadowing, focusing on all the different things that could help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom as well.
So, I’m excited to share today’s episode. If you like it, make sure to rate and review the podcast. If you wanna watch it as well after you listen to the episode, I’m also going to link to the video version of this episode. But I have to tell you, as an avid podcast listener myself, I think that when you’re listening to something rather than watching it, you are a lot more focused on what you hear. And sometimes we get distracted by what we see.
Now, for some people, if you’re a visual learner in particular, it might be easier for you to actually watch the episode. But I highly recommend for you to try working with this audio version and see how easily you’re able to shadow this monologue.
All right. I hope you enjoy it. If you liked this episode, like I said, you’re invited to rate and review the podcast. And I’m also inviting you to come on over to Instagram @hadar.accentsway to say hi and to let me know what you thought about this episode. All right, so let’s listen.
Want to improve your pronunciation, intonation, and humor in English? Join me for the best English practice with Ana de Armas.
“Could I be any better in English?”
“But I didn’t. But I didn’t.”
“How to. How to. How to.”
Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today, we are going to practice shadowing and we’re gonna do that with the Cuban Spanish actress Ana de Armas. Ana was born in Cuba. And when she was 18, she moved to Spain and then to the United States, where she pursued her acting career.
But when she moved to the US, She did not know any English. She had to spend quite a few months in New York studying English, and she worked on her English and her pronunciation. And today you can see her in some of the biggest movies in Hollywood. And she recently even got nominated for her Performance in ‘Blonde’, where she portrayed Marilyn Monroe, and she was the first Cuban actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress in a movie.
And recently, Ana was invited as a guest to Saturday Night Live where, I don’t know if you know this, but at the beginning of each show, the guest has to give an opening monologue. One of my students posted this monologue in one of her private communities, and everyone was so inspired and they loved it. And I said, you know what, I have to take it and analyze it so that we can all practice shadowing, and learn from her speech more about pronunciation, intonation, tone of voice, and even humor and American culture.
Let’s start by listening to the beginning of her monologue.
[Speaking in Spanish]
All right. Uh, we’re not gonna shadow that. I’m gonna let you do it on your own. All right, we’re gonna, we’re gonna move on to the next sentence.
“I speak English. Um, but I didn’t when I first got to the US.”
All right, so the first sentence: I speak English. I speak English. Something about the intonation makes it a bit more funny. Instead of [I speak English], she’s not trying to convince us, it’s a joke. And then she said: “but I didn’t when I first got to the US.”
‘but I didn’t when I first got to the US’. Now I want you to pay attention to the rhythm and the flap T, cuz these are two things that are great to practice. ‘But I didn’t’. Notice how she flaps the T. When the T is between two vowels, you flap it so it sounds like a [ɾ] sound. But I didn’t. But I didn’t. But I didn’t.
And then she says: “when I first got to the US”. ‘When I first got to the US’. Now notice the words that she chooses to stress – got, US. This is how I would stress it as well: ‘when I first got to the US’, ‘when I first got to the US’. This is very much the rhythm of American English: ‘when I first got to the US. Quick, and then she slows down on the words that she stresses.
“I was born in Cuba, came to America when I was, when I was 26. And I learned English the way everyone who comes to this country does.”
‘And I learned English the way everyone who comes to this country does’. The stress is on ‘learned’, ‘English’, ‘comes’, ‘country’, ‘does’. ‘And I learned English the way everyone who comes to this country does’. And that is the beauty of the rhythm in English. The stressed words are longer and higher in pitch, and everything in between is squeezed together and reduced.
“by watching Friends.” So this is the joke: by watching Friends. I think it’s even an internal joke for all English learners because I personally learned English by watching Friends as well when I was 13. So I think, this is a joke that a lot of people get on a lot of different layers: by watching Friends. So again: watching Friends, stress is on ‘Friends’. Notice the R sound here, round your lips, and make sure that the transition between the F and the R is smooth: Friends, Friends, by watching Friends.
“Who would’ve thought that the best English tutor would be Chandler Bing?” ‘
‘Who would’ve thought?’ ‘Who would’ve thought?’ This is a very common phrase – ‘who would’ve thought’. And notice that she doesn’t say ‘who would have thought’. She doesn’t separate every word, she doesn’t fully pronounce every word, everything is reduced: who would’ve thought? Who would’ve thought?
“I mean, look at me now. Could I be any better in English?”
‘Look at me now. Could I be any better in English?’ Now, she refers to this scene.
“Um, could that report BE any later? Oh! Okay, I don’t sound like that. That is so NOT true. That is so not… that is so not… that. Oh, shut up!”
This is where Chandler’s friends are making fun of his intonation. ‘Could I BE any better in English?’ And it’s so great because really what she does is illustrate the work that she has done by using intonation to make people laugh.
“Acting here wasn’t… uh, was difficult at first”. ‘Acting here was difficult at first’.
“Because I didn’t always understand what I was saying”. ‘Because I didn’t always understand what I was saying’. didn’t, always, understand, saying. Now notice again the rhythm: k’z I didn’t always understand what I was saying. Notice how she reduces the ‘what I was’. She doesn’t say ‘because I didn’t always understand what I was saying. ‘b’k’z’ I didn’ always understand wadai w’z saying’. So, the phrasing and the difference between the stressed and unstressed is what allows her to use that rhythm of English and the intonation.
“Then I met this guy who had a class called How to Audition.” ‘Then I met this guy that had a class called How to Audition’. So, even here- How to Audition, notice how she connects the ‘how-du-aa’, so the T of the word ‘to’ becomes flapped – ‘how-du’. You’ll hear it a lot when people speak: how to find the right job, how to do it, how to audition. And she connects everything together, you can hear the beautiful connected speech. And then also the open ‘aa’ sound – how-du-aa-Di-sh’n. Notice that even though in the word ‘audition’ you have A and U, it’s not ow-di-sh’n, but it’s only one sound ‘aa’ – how-du-aa-Di-sh’n. And you wanna connect it to the word ‘to’ before – how-du-aa-Di-sh’n, just like she does.
“Which was definitely a scam”. Now here I wanna talk about her intonation, or even more particular, her tone of voice. She drops down in her voice: ‘which was definitely a scam’. And that usually happens when people are sarcastic or ironic. They are making a joke. This is very common for American culture, and you recognize it by someone which is going really, really low and saying it with this tone. Which is what she does- ‘definitely a scam’. “Definitely a scam. Definitely a scam. Definitely a scam”.
“He had me read a scene”. ‘He had me read a scene’, so she stresses ‘had’ and ‘scene’. Now, a lot of you, if you’ve had some experience doing this kind of work, you might be thinking, Wait, but ‘had’ is a function word. So the answer is yes and no. In this case, the ‘had’ is the verb. So, a verb is a content word and it’s usually stressed. This is why you hear the beautiful [a] sound here: he had me read a scene. ‘He had me read a scene’.
So the ‘he’ is reduced, ‘had’ is long and higher in pitch, ‘me’ is reduced again: ‘read a’ – reduced-reduced. ‘read’ has the pure vowel, it’s not fully stressed, just somewhat stressed. It is a content word. ‘He had me read a scene’, she raises her pitch again, notice the intonation- rising-falling-rising. ‘scene’, something else is coming up. Let’s listen to what that is.
“And there was this line, I beg your pardon”. ‘And there was this line, I beg your pardon’. ‘I beg your pardon’. Now she talks about cultural differences and challenges with understanding the language. Let’s listen: “But I had never seen or heard that phrase, so I thought this character was literally begging”.
‘literally’, let’s just practice this word: literally, li-te-ra-lly. This word is extremely challenging for non-native speakers, especially Spanish speakers who have the [ɾ] sound that we use for the T in the word ‘literally’ as the R sound. And since there’s also an R sound in this word, it can get all messed up in the brain. So, let’s break it down.
LI – an L sound and an ‘i’ sound. And then the T becomes a flap T, and then a schwa: li-duh. And then we have an R and a schwa, a reduced vowel – ‘ruh’: li-duh-ruh, and then an L again – lee. ‘li-duh-ruh-lee’. Literally, literally.
“So when I did the line, I said, I beg your pardon! Give it to me! Then someone else in the class read the line and I was like, oh”. So I just wanna talk about the phrase ‘and I was like’, ‘and I was like’. This is a very common phrase that people use to describe their reaction to something. “And I was like, really? And she was like, yeah. And I was like, no way! And I was like, yeah”. Right? So she uses that to tell the story, but also to make it more casual and communicative.
So now we’re gonna skip a few lines to the end for the purpose of not keeping you here forever. And by the way, I do have a script for you for this, as always. So, it’s all transcribed, the stressed words are in bold, they’re bigger, you’ll see all the reductions. It’s gonna really help you shadow this monologue with Ana.
“I remember the first time my name was on the, in the New York Times crossword. Everyone texted me and they said, you made it!” ‘Everyone texted me and said, you made it!’ So let’s practice the rhythm here. ‘everyone’, it’s a little slow. ‘texted me’, slow again. ‘and said’ – quickly. ‘you made it’, slowly and higher in pitch. Let’s do it again: Everyone texted me and said. n’ said, n’ said, notice how we dropped the D here, not ‘and said – n’ said, so it’s easier and quicker. ‘you made it!’, raise your pitch here. “And I thought I did”. ‘And I thought I did’. ‘I thought I did’, stress is on ‘did’, that’s lax [ɪ] sound. ‘I thought I did’. Let’s do it together: I thought I did.
“But then a couple months ago”. ‘then a couple months ago’, notice how we dropped the TH here, you don’t have to pronounce it – ‘mons’. “SNL called me and said, Ana, we want you to host”. ‘SNL called me and said, Ana, we want you to host’. Okay? So listen to the connected speech. ‘SNL called me’, ‘SNL called me’. Do it with me: SNL called me. “and said, Ana, we want you to host”. ‘and said, Ana, we want you to host’. ‘and said, Ana, we want you to host’.
“And I was so shocked and excited that all I could say was”. ‘And I was so shocked and excited that all I could say was…’ dot, dot, dot, something’s coming up. So let’s practice the words ‘shocked’, ‘excited’, ‘say’. ‘And I was so shocked and excited that all I could say was…’ “I beg your pardon!”
Alright, you guys, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Today we practiced rhythm and intonation, how to stress words and how to reduce words. We also talked about tone of voice, phrasing and pronunciation. Click on the link below for the full transcript and intonation notes to help you practice and shadow this monologue by Ana de Armas.
Thank you so much for being here. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day, and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.