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  1. #1
    flloydpk is offline Newbie
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    Question To Speak is to Give Voice

    I just read Richard Flynn (aka TDol)'s blog posting "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" with great interest, because as a voice coach who helps actors and public speakers to care for their vocal health, and to use their voices more effectively and with greater power and clarity, I have been wondering whether TESOL and English (or any language) teachers incorporate voice training into their programs. Clearly Richard has now experienced what happens when something goes drastically wrong with the voice - as against the language - so he appreciates the contribution that the voice makes to speech.

    I am curious to know if teachers generally encourage students to address their own voices as something to be acknowledged and cherished, as against taking the vocal sound for granted as nothing more than a conduit for the language they are learning? Do you think about the way you use your own voice, and how this is culturally and socially informed? Teaching a new language involves a cultural shift, and often that shift is experienced as an uncomfortable physical feeling that is challenging to negotiate because it actually involves subtle but profounds changes in the physiology of producing vocal sound.

    I'd be very interested to hear of teachers' and students' experience of adapting their vocal sound to accommodate a new language.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: To Speak is to Give Voice

    (For those that haven't read the blog entry, I was ill and lost my voice completely for some time.)

    I would say that things are starting to change with regards to voice and pronunciation. The recent rise in call centres exposed a serious issue, where centres based in places like India often found that speakers there were not easily understood by customers in places like the US and the UK. This has led to a rise in places offering Accent Reduction and focusing on sounds to a much greater extent than before. The massive increase in communication has also led to calls for people to teach the different pronunciations non-native speakers may have as a skill, rather than just concentrating on imitating native speakers. Nowadays, it is far more common to have students from one part of the world listen to speakers from another and to try to deal with the issues arising.

    I wouldn't say that we have got where you would like us to be, but things are changing because modern communication requires it. It's acquiring a greater importance and this involves a greater understanding of how we use voice.

  3. #3
    flloydpk is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: To Speak is to Give Voice

    Thanks so much for your response, Richard. I'm happy to know that some attention is being paid to the voice, rather than none. My own conviction, from my experience of working with actors wanting to learn accents, and others wanting to modify their own, is that when the voice itself is addressed, it is a lot easier to build accent and pronunciation changes from that base. Getting them to do the exercises regularly has been my challenge, so I've spent years experimenting to find the least (shortest) sequence that will have any beneficial effect. It's my mission to get the world to be more vocally aware, and to build healthy and expressive voices that are enjoyable to produce and great to hear.

    I managed to get it down to a 55 second warmup, largely based on the Vocal Function Exercises that were developed by Dr Joseph Stemple and others. I've been giving this to my students as an audio file, after teaching it to them, and it seems to do the trick. So I've now produced a mobile app for general consumption. It's available in the iTunes App Store (search for 'Being in Voice' without the quotes) but I'd happily send you a code to get a free version to try out for yourself. I would be so grateful to get your comments, whether you think this would actually be of use to TESOL teachers and their students, or any adaptations you think would be helpful.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: To Speak is to Give Voice

    I'm afraid I don't have any Apple devices. I use other products for everything.

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