Orientation Video and First Assignment!

Welcome to your Course!

It is awesome that you are here and are ready to improve your pronunciation in English! Please watch the video below.

Your first assignment is at minute marker 8:10.
Be sure to watch this part and complete your assignment at FlipGrid!

*See the Paul Taylor video here. (It’s in French with English subtitles.)

Your Assignment

Your assignment is to practice and then read the following paragraph OUT LOUD in a video. Upload the video to FlipGrid at the link below.

This is very important so that you can see your own pronunciation at the start of this course.

Your Practice Paragraph to read:

This is something I want to say about learning a new language. It isn’t easy at all! It’s usually a very tall mountain to climb. I’ve faced a lot of difficult challenges, but I’m getting better! I will keep working at it!

How do you post to FlipGrid?

If you aren’t sure, there is a tutorial video in the “Let’s Get Started – Orientation” Section of this course (see the left side of the screen for the “How to Use this Course” Section’s “How to – FlipGrid Tutorial“).

  1. Go to FlipGrid here: https://flipgrid.com/31eab726
  2. Enter the Password: Baker123
  3. Make your video and get a little bit of feedback to start your journey!
  4. Click “Mark Complete” in the lesson below!
  5. Have fun and good luck!

Video Transcript

Download the transcript below.

Welcome to your English Pronunciation for Chinese Speakers Video Course! I’m Laura, your teacher and I’m really happy that you’re here, ready to take the next step in your pronunciation journey, making sure that you can speak English clearly and understandably. That is awesome! Before we get started though, there are 3 things that I want to talk about with you, just to make sure that, as you’re continuing to learn English or any other language, you’ve got kind of the right mentality or mindset going forward. So let’s get started.

The first thing is to think about your goals and whether or not they are realistic. Most commonly, I hear my English students say things like, “I want to sound like a native speaker.” That’s OK… sounding like a native speaker is an OK goal, but it’s a really challenging goal! Sounding like a native speaker is going to take you a lot of time, a lot of work, and, honestly, it’s not something that a lot of people actually need!

So, it’s more important, I think, that you create a goal that is more easily attainable. A goal that actually addresses what you need English for.

So, for example, a reasonable goal might be, “I want to speak English clearly.” “I want to speak understandably.” “I don’t want people to say, ‘huh?’ when they listen to me speaking in English.” You might say something like, “I want to be able to express complicated ideas in English clearly and not have people not understand me because of pronunciation.” Great.

However, if your goal is to “speak English like a native,” you really have to study a lot first! You have to choose a native speaker from where! Because, you know, English has a ton of accents! Not just British, or Irish, or Scottish, or American, or South African, or New Zealander, or Australian, or any of those things… Specifically within the United States, we have different accents in different states, different regions, and sometimes different cities.

For example, if you’re from Boston, you’re going to speak completely differently from somebody from New York, even though the region is all the Northeast of the USA. It’s all in North American English.

So, if you’re trying to “speak like a native,” you’re going to have to decide: A “native” from where?

And then you’re going to have to focus not just on pronunciation of English according to that accent, but you’re also going to have to focus on any sort of vocabulary differences, cultural references, and really become “like a native” who actually is from that particular culture!

That’s hard! That’s hard. That’s a lot of work and it’s not what most people need.

Most people just need to speak clearly to speak understandably, to speak with an accent that makes you feel confident and comfortable speaking and communicating with foreigners or with other nonnative English speakers.

So, make sure that when you’re thinking about your goals that you’re really realistic about what it is you want to do.
Number two:

Work on all of your language skills together. Sometimes I have students that just want to spend an entire 6 months working on pronunciation. Or they just want to spend 6 months working on vocabulary or grammar or something like that.

This is not exactly the best way to go about it because that’s kind of like going to the gym and only working on lifting weights for your right arm. So, maybe at the end of 6 months, you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger right here, but the rest of you… not so much!

When you’re learning a language, you need to be sure that you’re working on all of your language skills together! So, that doesn’t mean in the same class you have to cover every single skill. It means that in the same semester you can have a class that focuses on pronunciation, but you should also have another class, or another study session, where you are focusing on your grammar, or building your vocabulary, all in the same period of time.

Otherwise, you might come out of your six month study cram session with a great accent, but maybe you don’t have the grammar to support it. So, what people will hear, because people listen to accents first, they’ll hear, “oh, this is a native English speaker!” (Maybe, if you get that that good in your accent) And then they hear the simple basic grammar mistakes and they won’t think, “oh, this is someone learning English who speaks pretty well!”

They’re going to think, “oh, this is a native English speaker who’s making basic grammar mistakes! Is this person stupid?!”

Now, there’s a really funny comedian who actually did a whole skit on this, because that was his experience. He grew up until he was five, I think, in France and then he moved back to the UK when he was a child and continued to learn French in British schools. So, his pronunciation, because it was formed when he was really young, his pronunciation of French is awesome! But his grammar which he learned in the school system is not.

So, when he went back to France as an adult, his pronunciation sounded native, but his Grammar sounded really not. And so people would hear and think, “oh, this is a French man who’s stupid!” Rather than: “oh, this is a British man who actually is doing really well speaking in French!”

Learning French, focusing on it, people will be more forgiving if you are learning their language versus if you’re a native speaker but making basic grammar mistakes.

So, long story short, work on all of your skills together!

Number three: Use actors’ techniques. So, one of the things that you can do is try and step outside of yourself when you’re trying to improve your pronunciation. Because your muscles actually have to move differently, the sounds you’re making in another language have to be different from your native tongue, because they just are.

So you should really be watching, mimicking, copying. You should be listening. You should be repeating, but you should also be really focusing on the shape of the mouth, the shape of the body, the gestures, the different movements, pitch, and intonation.

A great way to practice is to watch a TV show or watch a video, that is in English that has the accent that is your target, and try and copy one of the characters.

Choose a character and, when nobody else is around, stand in your living room and if the character goes, “what are you talking about?” You should stand up, make the same gestures, make the same facial expression, do the same intonation: “What are you talking about?”

Try and make it exactly the same as the character. Don’t be you. Be that person! And don’t be worried about being silly, because nobody’s around to see you!

This is just practice, right, so try and “put on” another character as you’re practicing. Don’t just be you speaking English, try to practice as these other people.

Now, of course, you have to do a lot of drills. You have to focus first on making the sounds correctly with your muscles, but you also have to really practice putting it together, linking the sounds, getting the right intonation patterns, the right gestures, and emotion. That’s going with it. So be an actor, use those actor techniques.

OK, so, those are three things to think about as you’re moving forward studying English, trying to work on your pronunciation.

I know it’s a lot, but, here’s the thing. We’re going to start off this course with an assignment!

This is going to be your starting point. So, I have this paragraph here.

What I want you to do is I want you to read through to yourself a couple of times. Make sure you understand the meaning of this paragraph, and then I want you to video yourself saying it.

What you’re going to do is take that video and upload it to FlipGrid. This is your starting point, so that I can see (and other students can see) your starting point, before the beginning of this course.

Then you’re going to work on all of the different sounds and the different structures in that paragraph throughout the course and, at the end of the course, you’re going to re-record yourself saying the exact same paragraph.

And put them together, so then you can see the beginning and the end, and where you’ve improved and where you still need to improve.

So it sounds scary, but FlipGrid is a closed community. It’s just you, me, the other students that are in this class and that’s it! So, everybody is going to be nice and supportive!!

So, after you upload your video, if you want people to be supportive and nice to you, you should go and be nice and supportive to them! Watch some other videos, comment on other videos, and start that dialogue where you each can be helping each other, as we go along this pronunciation improvement journey!

OK, if you have any questions, you can let me know by email (Laura@LaurasEnglishClass.com). I’ll see you online very soon! Good luck!

(If you use the translator, remember that Google Translate can make some strange translations!)

Click on “Free – Purchase” and then again on “Checkout”. Of course, it’s free and included in this course!