Dear Forumites,

I received an interesting request from a student of mine this past week. She has an issue parsing certain phrases as commonly spoken by native English speakers such as "write a letter" and "do you" where fluidity of speech often collapses the [silent] spaces between 'a' and 'letter,' etc. Her request was for an exercise to systematically study and become accustomed to this phenomenon.

My initial reaction is that this is purely a colloquialism and, as such, it varies too much in context and situation and from speaker to speaker to be codified and taught directly in a classroom. I postulated that only practice and exposure would improve her ability to parse speech but, as her teacher, also promised to make inquiries into this subject.

First off, do those who have a broader background in linguistics than I know the proper term for this? Knowing the term would help me locate any literature already documenting it.

Secondly, do any of you have specific exercises to isolate and examine this part of language? Failing that, do you have any general teaching theories for this?

I appreciate your time in reading this and look forward to your knowledgable responses. Thank you.