{March 25, 2011}   Accents – a compilation (!)

While doing my research for the previous post, I came across three very interesting videos where native English speakers show us some of the accents of the English language.

Here they are!


{March 25, 2011}   Accent Reduction

After watching this video, I thought it would be nice to look for some material on accent reduction to share with you.

Accent reduction, also known as elocution or accent modification, is a systematic approach used to learn or adopt a new accent. It is the process of learning the sound system (or phonology) of a language or dialect. The methodology involves several steps, which include identifying deviations in the person’s current speech from the desired accent (such as pronunciation, speech patterns, and speech habits), changing the way one uses the mouth, teeth, and tongue to form vowel and consonant sounds, modifying one’s intonation and stress patterns, and changing one’s rhythm. Using this method, individuals such as those mastering a second language may alter their speech to more closely resemble the accent of a certain group of people, and thus enhance the clarity of their communication with those people. (From Wikipedia)

Improving your pronunciation will take a lot of patience and commitment, and with a little help of the resources available you will get great results.

A lesson on word stress

Some tips for accent reduction

Tongue Twisters to practice your English accent!

There are A LOT of materials on accent reduction available on the internet, you just have to look for them, use them, and practice! But remember that accent reduction DOES NOT MEAN accent elimination! Sometimes, it is better to work on reducing areas of our pronunciation that affect comprehensibility, that is, areas of our accents that make it difficult for native speakers to understand us.

{March 22, 2011}   Storytelling

A friend of mine asked if I knew of any good courses on storytelling. My answer was the one you are thinking of:

“Why do you want to do a course of something that you know naturally? Why don’t you do a web search to clarify your doubts, and enlarge your knowledge?”

And as she was working, I did a google search for her and send her some links via e-mail. The first link I came across is a “manual” for beginners in storytelling. The information you will see there perhaps is not new, but it is clearly organized and it gives a general idea of what storytelling is. The second link, a set of resources for storytelling, was chosen simply because I found it really interesting!

As I always say, what works for one person perhaps doesn’t work for another. The truth is, all of us know naturally how to tell a story. We all have little brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, nephews, nieces and neighbours to tell stories to; and as teachers, we have our own students. Also, children are the best judges who are going to tell you what works and what needs to be changed. We all have our own techniques for storytelling, but we all change our voices to represent different characters and we all “make faces” for children to become really interested in the story. I, for instance, use puppets whenever I don’t want to use a book. And children laugh of my faces, and voices, and movements. A friend of mine likes acting out the stories she tells, so if you peek into her classroom, you will see a clown and not a teacher! 🙂

To end this post, I leave a question to all of you: Which do you think is the most useful technique for storytelling?

Did you ever want to work with something different in your Business English lessons?

This year, I felt the need to use something unusual just to break with the routine. Working every single lesson on specific vocabulary made me feel my students were not learning enough. So, I carried out a little investigation -I googled, in other words 😉 – just in search of different ideas that could work with my students.

I got inspired for an intermediate-level class, which was starting on March 3rd. We were very close to a new holiday here in Argentina, and I thought it would be very nice to work with “why” we have that holiday. During my “investigation”, I came across lots of materials about Mardi Gras. My students LOVED the idea and the material, since they didn’t know about this celebration.

And tomorrow, March 17th, two more groups are starting and I’m preparing a lesson on St. Patrick’s Day.

If you like this idea, you can go to this site, where I found LOTS of interesting activities to carry out with students of different age groups. If you work with young people, you may find this audio story really useful. Or you can just ask me for the material I used 🙂


PS: I feel really tired today, but I wanted to share this with you since it’s been ages since my last post!

et cetera