Slight concerns about taking the course...

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Slight concerns about taking the course...

Unread postby chrisc » 23 Nov 2010, 11:34

My concerns are that I have a bit of a Yorkshire accent, particularly the vowel sounds in take and go...i suppose with practice I could get used to using the dipthongs (they're monothong sounds in Yorkshire). Probably I'm more concerned about my difficulty with the th sound...I don't know if it was just laziness as a child- or a regional or social accent feature, but I grew up 'th-fronting': replacing the th sound with f. As an adult I've been trying to shake this habit, and can now use the sound in most contexts, but some still cause me difficulty, especially in words ending in the th sound in plural, for example maths and lengths.
I just wondered if anyone out there had similar issues, as a native speaker with a less prestigious accent?!

Alex Case
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Re: Slight concerns about taking the course...

Unread postby Alex Case » 24 Nov 2010, 00:53

I speak a slight variation on Estuary English, so I also have the mafs and lenfs thing in informal speech. I tend to naturally put on a bit of a posher "telephone voice" in class and lose that though. My "problem" is that wool and wall are pronounced exactly the same to me. Everyone else on my TEFL course refused to believe I say it that way, but I do and that is what my students hear. I can now make a distinction when pointing out the dictionary pron, but I refuse to actually change my accent. I also refuse to do fake American/ Indian/ Jamaican accents for even a second when they ask me about those pronunciations, as it embarrasses me too much. I do do a wickedly over the top fake French though...

Students will have to get used to hundreds of different accents when they start using English for international communication, so I think they can cope with a few native speaker variations. I taught with a teacher from Belfast who I could barely understand, but he was one of the most popular teachers in the school

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Re: Slight concerns about taking the course...

Unread postby systematic » 24 Nov 2010, 04:11

Teaching with a slight regional or even foreign accent is generally not a problem. One of the most popular teachers I know hails from the Black Country (a former coal mining area near Birmingjam, England) and it reminds me of an old Black Country joke I heard 40 years ago while I was working in Tipton, one of the Back Country towns:

Oi wuz wawkin' dewn along the coot [canal] along the old tow path wun Sunday mawnin' wen Oi cum acroas this liddle boy with a fishin' pawel danglin 'is 'ook in the watta.
'Wot'm yow doin'?' Oi asks, 'Fishin', the kid reploys.
'Ahr', Oi sez, 'but there bain't be naw fish in 'ere, mate, it's towtely pallewtid'.
'Ahr, there be,' he reploys, 'Whales'.
'You'm kiddin', Oi sez, 'there bain't be naw whales in 'ere.'
'Ahr, there be an' all - boicicle whales.

So even if you don't want to change your accent in class, it might be an idea to at least disambiguate those words which are pronounced either very differently or become homophones, in RP, the Estuary, America, and of course, the Black Country.

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Re: Slight concerns about taking the course...

Unread postby Mikedt » 14 Dec 2010, 10:04

Alex Case wrote:I taught with a teacher from Belfast who I could barely understand, but he was one of the most popular teachers in the school

I find it interesting how a strong accent is sometimes difficult to understand, yes it is often loved by the students.

I'm from Bristol in the UK, so I'm quite prone to using the Bristol 'al' sound at the end of certain words, like bottle and kettle. I actually got rejected by one Chinese training school during interview, reason given was 'you have a heavy dialect'. When I'm in the classroom I think BBC, and try and concentrate on the way I'm speaking. Many schools in China take the attitude that if one does not sound like CNN (American English), they're not interested and the students will have difficulty understanding what is spoken.

I'm currently teaching in a Mongolian middle school, I'm the only foreign teacher here, and AFAICT from S. and T. feedback, my Bristol accent is actually loved and appreciated here.

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