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  1. #1
    EnglishRyan's Avatar
    EnglishRyan is offline Junior Member
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    Default Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    Hey guys,

    Recently I took on a private student, high profile business guy, who has excellent speaking skills but wants to take them to the next level. His vocabulary is quite extensive and I find it a bit of a challenge putting together lesson plans that really push him to excel. If I were to point out an area of weakness, it would be pronunciation (light Russian accent), but that is about it. He's stressed a desire to diminish his accent as much as possible and we've been doing some repeated business readings (like an I-read-you-read sort of exercise) that have been modestly helpful but this gets dry after a while. I don't want these lessons to diminish into simple 'free talk' sessions as, in my experience, those kinds of lessons do a lot for fluency but little for pronunciation. Can anyone share some pronunciation techniques I can use with this guy? Please keep his extremely high level in mind (thus, basic pronunciation exercises won't work).

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    mgaryza is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    I'm a senior English student, my level is not so high than your pupil one but I have improved a lot my pronunciation by hearing audio-books and reading the text at the same time. Is important to chose a text in which you are interested, and so you learn and enjoy yourself all together. I have been reading and hearing "Pride and Prejudice" during the last six months, day by day, six times at least. Now my skills are better in pronunciation than in speaking or writing. I also read and heard "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility". I like very much Jane Austen's novels because of her beautiful language and intelligent and ironic dialogues. I take the audio recorders from librivox website and the texts from Gutemberg Project, because this books are in the public domain. I hope this experience could help you.

  3. #3
    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    One thing I notice about high-level learners of English is that they lack emotion in their speech. There is a monotone in the voice.

    Time to get him to increase emotion in the speech. Can he say the same sentence in anger, tenderness, shyness or being silly/

    There is a musical sense to English. He needs to find it.

    Get pictures and have him describe what's going on using different emotions.

  4. #4
    EnglishRyan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    Great suggestions, guys. Thank a lot!

    @Mgaryza I have had students in the past practice the same set of exercises you do and they have also had some interesting results. I will try some scripted business listenings with my client and let you know how it goes.

    @susieddq I will think about your suggestion. This guy is very 'Russian' in all of his mannerisms (constant poker face, overly punctuates every single word, etc). It will be difficult for me to get him to open up a bit and leave some of these habits behind, but I will try. Thank you for your feedback.

  5. #5
    teacherjoe is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    With very advanced students, I use BBC or NPR.org radio podcasts. CNN radio broadcasts might be even better for your students because they tend to contain more idiomatic language. That could help your students start to speak more naturally. I find that students benefit a lot from listening to various accents.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    If your learner has to give presentations, then you can certainly help him by recording a presentation he makes to you. You can then go through the recording virtually phrase by phrase, working on accent, word-stress, sentence stress, intonation, chunking, etc.

    It sounds tedious, but I have done this with some students who have found it motivating. They can actually hear their own improvement (in small areas) within the space of a single lesson.

  7. #7
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    EnglishRyan is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    Thanks, guys. I had another class with this student today and we spent about half of our hour working on writing and the other half engaging in conversation revolving around a set of vocab I felt was particularly challenging. I also included a brief repeated reading in there which seems to be helping to straighten out his heevee Rrrussian axient. We're going to include some of the GPS podcast (CNN: Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs) next class. Honestly, I'd like at some point to find some source with a transcript for my student to follow, but that proves difficult at his level.

    Will let you all know how our next session goes. :)

    May I ask where you guys are posting from? (I'm in Shanghai.)

  8. #8
    EnglishRyan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    Whoah! Didn't realize everyone's location is posted next to their avatar.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishRyan View Post
    Honestly, I'd like at some point to find some source with a transcript for my student to follow, but that proves difficult at his level.
    One of the best subtitled and transcripted websites is TED.com. With their interactive transcript, you can click the text and the video will go to that point. Not to mention the TED talks themselves are absolutely brilliant.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Taking a high level speaker even higher, need some advice

    ^Excellent suggestion, Mr. Ben. Thanks! I'm not sure why I didn't think of that. I also like listening to TED talks and they definitely would be challenging enough for this guy (plus they'd spark decent conversation afterwards, too).

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