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  1. #1
    Lusophile is offline Newbie
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    Default Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    I have recently started teaching English in Portugal where I reside. The language school I am working for have provided me with some course ware material. The cds which this course use Received Pronunciation (Queen's English, posh south east of England accent etc etc.). I guess we all have our preferences for different accents but I really don't like the way this accent seems to be the accepted one to teach British English. It's not as if the majority of even English people speak in this way. I would say not much more than 5%.

    So...Is there any courseware with cds done that include a range of British and maybe Irish accents? It would be nice to keep it real - instead of playing students cds with a posh South East of England accent when in reality the vast majority of native English speakers speak nothing like this!

  2. #2
    shroob is offline Member
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Funny you should mention this - I was doing my pre-reading work for a CELTA course and there is a section in one of my books (Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener) that mentions this issue.

    He says that R.P. is sometimes viewed as 'the' version of English, however most people speak with accents and to try and teach with a different accent than your own can be challenging. Scrivener says that you should make students aware of the different accents in English. I haven't got the book to hand, but its a good read full of tips (at least I think it is, as a person waiting for a CELTA course to start).

    If you want I could record myself XD - do you want a broad Yorkshire accent?

    Perhaps look for youtube clips? They should have a whole range of accents on there!

  3. #3
    Lusophile is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Thanks Shroob. The thing is even if you had to pick one accent only to use on these cds RP is not the one I would choose. I don't know what criteria is used to pick out this accent. Is it because it's most similar to the way the Queen and the gentry speaks perhaps? If so that's not a good enough reason these days.

    My opinion is that if you are going to pick out one English English accent, I'm Irish so I'm relatively (maybe not totally ) unbiased as to which one to choose, it should be one that is closer to the normal speech of well educated people of that country. I would think maybe a Cheshire accent would be more appropriate. It's a clear and well spoken accent without the affectations of the RP accent. I'm not totally unbiased here as I lived in Cheshire for a while and my wife is from the neighbouring area of Greater Manchester. . Seriously though I've heard nice accents from other parts of England which everyone can understand and are far closer to an 'average' than the RP accent. The few Leicestershire people I've heard sound nice.

    Still there's no harm in getting a course with different accents on. I'm not talking very broad accents here. Just some from professional type people speaking clearly.

    If I ever create my own course shroob I'll be sure to have you as the Yorkshire representative
    Last edited by Lusophile; 14-Jun-2011 at 20:49.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusophile View Post
    RP is not what I would choose. I don't know what criteria is used to pick out this accent. Is it because it's most similar to the way the Queen and the gentry speaks perhaps? If so that's not a good enough reason these days.

    The modern version is nothing like the Queen's accent.

    Modern RP is an accent that is often (wrongly) held to be free of regional influence. That is why the original form, as taught in the public schools which educated men of the then ruling classes from all over the country, was chosen by the BBC.

    Whether we like it or not, largely thanksto the the influence of the BBC, that accent is still regarded by millions of people throughout the world as the 'proper' way to speak English.

    My opinion is that if you are going to pick out one English English accent, I'm Irish so I'm relatively (maybe not totally ) unbiased as to which one to choose, it should be one that is closer to the normal speech of well educated people of that country. I would think maybe a Cheshire accent would be more appropriate. It's a clear and well spoken accent without the affectations of the RP accent.

    That's your opinion only. Speakers of most dialects feel that their own is clear and easy to understand - and that others are not. And for most of us who speak a form of RP, there is no affectation - we can't help it any more than you can yours!

    Whether we like it or not (sorry to repeat myself) an accent somewhere between modern RP and 'educated' Estuary is probably the one most widely and clearly understood in the UK, once again largely because of radio and television.


    [...] Still there's no harm in getting a course with different accents on. I'm not talking very broad accents here. Just some from professional type people speaking clearly.
    I am all in favour of that. Learners who hear only RP are seriously disadvantaged when they come to the UK and encounter all the other accents.


    But we do have to remember that many people who learn English never intend to come to the UK (or any other English-speaking country). They are learning Englsh because it is now the de facto international language of business. The people with whom they will be communicating are happiest with either a General American Accent or - yes, RP.
    5

  5. #5
    Lusophile is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Thanks for your input into this. I wasn't advocating my own accent btw as I'm from Ireland not Cheshire which I gave as perhaps a good example as an alternative accent to RP. I genuinely didn't want to give offence to anyone as I know there will be people for whom RP is close to the way they actually speak and of course for them it's normal and not with affectation, but to those of us - and that's the vast majority within England itself, never mind other parts of the UK and Ireland it's far from normal speak and sorry I think I can say this as I get slagged enough for my accent by my English friends but the RP accent sounds a bit OTT, almost unreal, and so affectation was the easy word for me to use.

    You mention Estuary English and I would actually think this would be better than RP or to put it more bluntly maybe use the more refined side of the Estuary English accent.

    I hear what you are saying about people learning English who never intend to come to the UK. Obviously the situation will differ significantly depending on what region in the world the learner lives. But in my case I live in Portugal. I'm teaching people who will be meeting a lot of ex-pats. These English speaking ex-pats can be from all over the UK (the majority), a significant minority from Ireland, The USA, Canada, Australia and indeed many Dutch people (who are good in English as their second language). It's far better for my learners at least and this is just my opinion as I'm very new to teaching that they are exposed to more than just one specific accent.

    Also I think it shouldn't always be taken as a given that RP should be the accent of choice to use for these courses if there is indeed only one accent to choose. They are other accents which are well spoken which could be used and indeed are used more and more these days even on the BBC.

    Ok even taking all this as just merely personal preference. I've only been teaching about 6 weeks. I'm enjoying it far more than I thought I would but I want to be honest with my students, playing cds with an accent that I just don't relate to whatsoever and don't get me started on the naff tunes makes me feel shall we say uncomfortable.
    Last edited by Lusophile; 14-Jun-2011 at 21:56.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    [QUOTE=Lusophile;763014] L: T [...] to those of us - and that's the vast majority within England itself, never mind other parts of the UK and Ireland it's far from normal speak and sorry I think I can say this as I get slagged enough for my accent by my English friends but the RP accent sounds a bit OTT, almost unreal.
    5JJ: The underlined words seem to me to be as prejudiced as any criticism of 'uneducated' or 'sub-standard' regional dialects made by prejudiced RP speakers.

    L: It's far better for my learners at least and this is just my opinion as I'm very new to teaching that they are exposed to more than just one specific accent.
    5jj: I don't think you will find many real teachers who would disagree with that.

    L: [...]Also I think it shouldn't always be taken as a given that RP should be the accent of choice to use for these courses if there is indeed only one accent to choose. They are other accents which are well spoken which could be used and indeed are used more and more these days even on the BBC.
    5jj: The TEFL publishing business is a business. It's there to make money. If the customers want RP, they'll be sold it. Throughout my career I have worked with colleagues who have found it hard to be accepted by their students because of their accent. It's tough, it may not be fair, but that's how it is. Some publishers are presenting a greater variety of accents in their recorded materials, but many students don't like it. Publishers who used what the customers thought was too much material with regional accents would be taking a big risk.

    L: [...]I want to be honest with my students, playing cds with an accent that I just don't relate to whatsoever and don't get me started on the naff tunes makes me feel shall we say uncomfortable.
    5jj: The playing of naff tunes has nothing to do with this. You can always skip over them if you want to. I used to.

    I don't understand your point about wanting to be honest with your students. I never felt 'dishonest' when I played recordings of people who spoke with a different accent from mine. Why should you? Would you feel 'uncomfortable' talking to me if I were a colleague of yours?

    Is there any need for teachers to 'relate to' the accents of the speakers of recordings they play? I have used all sorts of written and recorded material with my students, much of which I found boring, silly, uninteresting, biassed, offensive, etc. I used my materials to help my students learn English and, as they advanced, recognise such things as register, appropriateness, bias, propaganda, etc. My own personal feelings about the materials were irrelevant.

    If you feel strongly enough about accent issue, you could always find a few other teachers wih regional accents and record your own materials.


    I do wonder if you are conflating your dislike of the imperfections of many published materials and a personal dislike of what you may feel to be an excess of respect for RP.
    Last edited by 5jj; 14-Jun-2011 at 23:31. Reason: typo

  7. #7
    Lusophile is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The underlined words seem to me to be as prejudiced as any criticism of 'uneducated' or 'sub-standard' regional dialects made by prejudiced RP speakers.
    The difference is your accent is close to the one used. I'm not even advocating my own as the one to be used. And yes thanks for pointing out the prejudices that some speakers of RP have towards 'regional' accents.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon
    I don't think you will mind many real teachers who would disagree with that.
    There's the newbie put in his place. Everyone's a newbie sometime may I remind you as you were one time. I'm trying to find my way in teaching and I posted this topic as it's one of the first issues I've come across. Yes I might have to take things on board and change my attitude, but it's no harm also imo to question the status quo at times.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon
    Throughout my career I have worked with colleagues who have found it hard to be accepted by their students because of their accent.
    It's tough, it may not be fair, but that's how it is.Some publishers are presenting a greater variety of accents in their recorded materials, but many students don't like it. Publishers who used what the customers thought was too much material with regional accents would be taking a big risk.
    My students don't appear to have any problem with my accent. I am very aware of the need to speak slowly and clearly. I'm sure at some times I fail in this area. Most of my social circle are English (as is my wife), Dutch or Portuguese (some who can speak English to varying degrees) so I am used to moderating my accent to be understood. I have been told by my students that they understand me more easily than the previous teacher - who was British but not with a RP accent.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon
    Would you feel 'uncomfortable' talking to me if I were a colleague of yours?
    Probably not. Sometimes delicate discussions translate badly over the interweb. If we were sitting in a cafe having a coffee or something stronger we would possibly be more likely to see some middle ground. I do obviously have an issue with RP being the de-facto accent for teaching British English. You don't - and so this online debate/discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon
    I do wonder if you are conflating your dislike of the imperfections of many published materials and a personal dislike of what you may feel to be an excess of respect for RP.
    We all have our own preferences. If RP is branded as the way to speak English then of course this is going to have an impact on what students want to learn.

    As a student of Portuguese I did appreciate it when one of the courses I used contained a variety of well-spoken Portuguese accents.

    Don't you like being quoted fivejedjon btw - man it's a minor nightmare to quote your posts

    Anyway getting away from the merits or otherwise of RP-only CDs/mp3s - does anyone know offhand of course materials which provide other accents?
    Last edited by Lusophile; 14-Jun-2011 at 23:20.

  8. #8
    I'm With Stupid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Hmm, this is strange. I've taught from books by Oxford, Cambridge, McMillan and Pearson/Longman, and I haven't come across a single example of what you say. The only RP voice I hear is the person who says the page and exercise number. In fact, I often have to stop myself from laughing at some of the obviously fake accents they put in to attempt to diversify. The only thing I can think of that is largely South of England stuff are some of the Cambridge tests we do, but a lot of those recordings are very old.

  9. #9
    Lusophile is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Quote Originally Posted by I'm With Stupid View Post
    Hmm, this is strange. I've taught from books by Oxford, Cambridge, McMillan and Pearson/Longman, and I haven't come across a single example of what you say. The only RP voice I hear is the person who says the page and exercise number. In fact, I often have to stop myself from laughing at some of the obviously fake accents they put in to attempt to diversify. The only thing I can think of that is largely South of England stuff are some of the Cambridge tests we do, but a lot of those recordings are very old.
    Maybe it's just the course materials I have then. I'm using Upstream from Express Publishing. So far all the material I've heard on the CDs is RP. My boss is a native of India and I think he thinks RP is the bees knees so yip fivejedjon from that aspect it helps to prove the case for RP.

    Is there any particular course you would recommend IWS?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Non Received Pronunciation British English courseware

    Quote Originally Posted by Lusophile View Post
    There's the newbie put in his place.
    I wasn't putting you in your place. Read it again. I'd already said in my previous post that I agreed with you on this point. Here I was saying that most real teachers (as opposed to transient backpackers) would also agree.

    oops. I have just read it again myself - I wrote, 'I don't think you will mind' , when I meant 'I don't think you will find'. The typo-demon strikes again. Sorry. I am off to edit my original, though it will be preserved for all posterity in your quote.

    Also sorry that I can't recommend any materials. I retired three years ago, and hadn't used much mainstream stuff for some time before that, so I don't really know what's around these days.

    Don't you like being quoted fivejedjon btw - man it's a minor nightmare to quote your posts
    After your previous comment about that, I deliberately set up my last post so that it could be quoted.
    Last edited by 5jj; 15-Jun-2011 at 10:41. Reason: more typos.

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