May 252009

microphoneA lot of the English courses I write come with audio CDs, so periodically I spend a day or two in studios listening to actors performing for the recordings. When I lived in the UK, the American actors often sounded ultra-polite. It seemed over the top for my British ear so I was always asking if they could tone down the upbeat-and-perky and sound a bit more matter of fact.

But since I’ve been living in the States, I’ve noticed the American actors sound great on the first take. Have they all come off Prozac I wonder, or did my ear need to adjust? No doubt the latter so I’d like to apologise to all the American actors I’ve ever asked to do a retake.

 Posted by at 9:11 pm

  3 Responses to “American and British intonation”

  1. Hello – I’ve been trying to post this on daves esl cafe forum for Spain, but I can’t seem to find it. Anyway, I wonder if you can offer any guidance on the following…

    Pronunciation tips with native Spanish learners

    I have a native Spanish upper intermediate srudent. He has some problems with s and sh, although both these exist in his first language.
    However, the z sound does not. Any tips for how to explain how to make this sound?
    Also, he tends to lack clarity in the difference with n and m at the end of consonants.

    Finally – pronouncing /id/ at the end of verbs such as waited and applauded – this is easy enough but much harder to clearly explain the difference in pron. of /t/ at the end of smoked, and /d/ at the end of climbed.

    I’ve tried to teach the ‘voiced/unvoiced’ explanation but is there a sumpler way to get this across?

    Any suggestions gratefully received, also which are the best books to buy to help my studies on pronunciation. I’m about to start a DELTA and pre-course reading should include phonology I guess?

    By the way, when is your next online seminar?

  2. Hi Chris and welcome!
    The pronunciation course I reach for most regularly is Speaking Clearly, by Pamela Rogerson and Judy B Gilbert. There was an American English edition too called Clear Speech. The teacher’s book has lots of useful tips.
    As you’re embarking on the DELTA another good book to look for is The Phonology of English as an International Language by Jenny Jenkins. This contains what seems to me to be really sensible and helpful information on what sounds learners need to be able to pronounce in order to achieve mutual intelligibility. It was also a groundbreaking work in ELF studies.
    Other folks may have other ideas, Chris. Please comment folks, and help Chris if you can.

  3. […] different part in mitigating tricky speech acts like requests and criticism as well. There’s a brief post about it […]

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