My English Voice

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The fifth in a series of lesson materials

If you’re looking for audio resources featuring a wider variety of accents than is offered in most coursebooks, then YouTube is the place to go. This is the last in our series of five free downloadable lesson plans and worksheets based on YouTube clips, aimed at inspiring teachers to expose students to the full range of English accents in the world.

The four previous posts have all featured individual lesson plans for teachers to take into class. I would like to complete the series with something a bit different, by sharing details of my new ‘online school’ based almost entirely on… YouTube.

Self-study worksheets

There are so many interesting videos on YouTube featuring speakers from around the world that I decided it is time to create a YouTube channel of my own, to put these videos in one place. I have created self-study worksheets and answer keys for each one, with listening comprehension and vocabulary exercises, and a section aimed at raising students’ awareness of the range of accents they might hear when using English as a Lingua Franca (which I have called International English on the videos because I think this is easier for students to understand). The lessons include a sub-titled extract from each video, with a transcript of the extract on the worksheet, and students are asked to repeat what the speaker says to try and notice any differences between their own pronunciation and the pronunciation of the speaker on the video. The My English Voice website is still in the final stages of design, but should be live in a few weeks, and this will be a place for students to search lessons by topic, level, and speakers’ first language backgrounds.

raleway font logo

Example lesson

The lessons are aimed at learners, i.e. they are self-study materials for people to do at home, alone. However, teachers are most welcome to use them in class, and it would be great if you could show the site to any students who might be interested, even if you feel the worksheets are not appropriate for use in class. You can encourage people to join the My English Voice ‘community’ by liking the Facebook page, subscribing to the YouTube channel, and signing up to the newsletter for updates of new lessons here. And if they subscribe (for free) this is the kind of lesson they will receive:

  • A worksheet like this
  • …which goes with a video like this
  • …and when they finish, they can check their answers with an answer key like this.

YouTube live broadcast

Feedback from students who have used the worksheets suggests that they need more motivation to actually complete them! For example, some kind of deadline. So, on Saturdays at 9.00 GMT, I am hosting YouTube live broadcast ‘chats’ where students can answer the discussion question at the end of the worksheets by typing their ideas into the chatbox.

I am also experimenting with ways to make English language learning more accessible, i.e. more affordable, by hosting speaking ‘lessons’ via Skype and YouTube live broadcast on Sundays at 9.00 GMT. The idea is that students pay the price of a cup of coffee in their country, so people pay different rates based on their currency. It works like this…

  • Students message me through the Facebook page with their email address, Skype ID, and their first language (e.g. French, Farsi, Japanese, etc.).
  • After they have paid, via PayPal, I match them with another student and send them the Skype ID of their ‘speaking partner’ (of a different first language background).
  • They also receive an email with the lesson materials and a link to the YouTube live broadcast event.
  • During the lesson, students can type questions and messages into the chat box on YouTube live broadcast to communicate with the whole class, but the speaking is done just with their partner via Skype.
  • After I have demonstrated the communication exercise (i.e. an information gap activity), students call their speaking partner on Skype while I countdown the time in the YouTube chatroom.
  • When the time for the speaking activity has finished, students come back to the chatroom to share their experiences of doing the activity and reflect about how successfully they communicated. We work together as a group to think of ways they could improve.
  • Then there is another speaking exercise in the same way again, using Skype, and then feedback via the YouTube chat box.

The My English Voice course

As well as the YouTube lessons, My English Voice will also soon be launched as an ‘online school’ by offering a four-week Skype course in groups of three learners, all of different first language backgrounds. The first pilot course has just been completed, with a Russian speaker, Japanese speaker, and Farsi speaker. Here are a few details…

My English Voice course details infographic

 

The course aims to develop learners’ speaking and listening skills in an ELF context and, as you might expect coming from one half of ELFpron, there is a strong pronunciation focus:

Course outline

I would love to hear any suggestions or feedback, and watch this space for the launch of the website in the next few weeks. Happy YouTubing!

katybannernew

Choosing a university

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The fourth in a series of lesson materials

If you’re looking for audio resources featuring a wider variety of accents than is offered in most coursebooks, then YouTube is the place to go. This is the fourth in our series of five free downloadable lesson plans and worksheets based on YouTube clips, aimed at inspiring teachers to expose students to the full range of English accents in the world.

The lessons are suitable for Pre-intermediate level classes and above, although the audio materials could be used with Elementary classes by adapting the tasks. The discussion questions related to accents and pronunciation could also be done in students’ first language if these are too challenging at their level. The materials could be used with adult or teen classes.

Choosing a university

This one-and-a-half-minute video advertises Birkbeck, University of London, which specialises in evening university study, both part-time and full-time courses. There are five speakers who all answer the same question: “Why did you choose Birkbeck?”. The speakers’ L1 backgrounds are not given, but universities are often international environments*, and there are a range of accents in the clip.

*See Jenkins, J. (2014). English as a Lingua Franca in the International University: The politics of academic English language policy Routledge

The lesson outline

  1. Students predict the reasons someone might give for choosing a particular university.
  2. Students listen and compare their predictions to what the speakers say. Then they listen again to match photos of the speakers to sentences explaining reasons for choosing Birkbeck.
  3. Students complete a dictation exercise by listening closely to just one of the speakers. They order sentences based on what they hear.
  4. Students imagine they are going (back) to university and visiting an open day. They brainstorm ten questions they would ask to help them choose which university to attend.
  5. Finally, students focus on the range of accents in the video and brainstorm ways to avoid / deal with communication breakdown.

You can download the student worksheet here and the teacher’s notes here.

More links

Here are other YouTube clips featuring university students with a range of accents:

Durham University’s business school

Foreign students in Germany

International students at the University of Bristol

International students at Michigan State University

katybannernew

SocialGiver

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The third in a series of lesson materials

If you’re looking for audio resources featuring a wider variety of accents than is offered in most coursebooks, then YouTube is the place to go. This is the third in our series of five free downloadable lesson plans and worksheets based on YouTube clips, aimed at inspiring teachers to expose students to the full range of English accents in the world.

The lessons are suitable for Pre-intermediate level classes and above, although the audio materials could be used with Elementary classes by adapting the tasks. The discussion questions related to accents and pronunciation could also be done in students’ first language if these are too challenging at their level. The materials could be used with adult or teen classes.

SocialGiver

SocialGiver is a social enterprise based in Thailand. The founder, Arch Wongchindawest is a One Young World Ambassador. In this 2 minute video, he explains how SocialGiver works and he talks about why One Young World is important.

The lesson outline

  1. Students discuss what they think a social enterprise is.
  2. Students complete a short gapped paragraph about the speaker’s background.
  3. Students listen and answer a gist question, and then true or false questions.
  4. Students discuss whether SocialGiver is a good idea, and what kind of social enterprise they would set up in their own community.
  5. Finally, students discuss whether they found the (Thai L1) speaker’s  pronunciation clear and easy to understand. The aim is to raise students’ awareness that speakers with a different accent to your own can still be easy to understand, even if you are not familiar with that accent.

You can download the student worksheet here and the teacher’s notes here.

More links

The One Young World Summit is an annual event for young leaders aged 18 to 30 from around the world who are passionate about causes like the environment, poverty, education, and human rights. The website features a gallery of links to YouTube clips of talks by speakers at the summit last year in Bangkok. Given the diversity of the speakers’ backgrounds, the site provides an excellent library of interesting audio resources featuring a wide range of accents. However, with topics like global warming and tackling corruption, the language level is quite high. If you have a high level class, check out these videos:

katybannernew

Visiting students’ perspectives on China and India

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The second in a series of lesson materials

If you’re looking for audio resources featuring a wider variety of accents than is offered in most coursebooks, then YouTube is the place to go. This is the second in our series of five free downloadable lesson plans and worksheets based on YouTube clips, aimed at inspiring teachers to expose students to the full range of English accents in the world.

The lessons are suitable for Pre-intermediate level classes and above, although the audio materials could be used with Elementary classes by adapting the tasks. The discussion questions related to accents and pronunciation could also be done in students’ first language if these are too challenging at their level. The materials could be used with adult or teen classes.

Visiting students’ perspectives on China and India

In this 2 minute BBC video, Chinese students talk about living in India, and Indian students talk about living in China.

The Chinese students say that:

  • Indian people help each other a lot.
  • Indian people don’t worry about being late.
  • Indian cities are less developed than they imagined.

The Indian students say that:

  • China is safe for travelling.
  • Chinese food is oily.
  • China’s economic growth is amazing.
  • There are a lot of skyscrapers in China.

The lesson outline

  1. Students discuss what they know about China and India.
  2. Students listen and answer a gist question.
  3. Students listen again and complete gapped sentences.
  4. Students discuss their own experiences and preferences related to travel.
  5. Finally, students listen again and focus on the students’ accents. They discuss questions aimed at raising their awareness of: a) the variety of different accents in the world, and b) the responsibility of the listener to develop their ability to understand different accents.

You can download the student worksheet here and the teacher’s notes here.

More links

Other videos on YouTube featuring Chinese or Indian speakers:

katybannernew

Ouissal’s tips for learning English

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The first in a series of lesson materials

If you’re looking for audio resources featuring a wider variety of accents than is offered in most coursebooks, then YouTube is the place to go. This is the first in our series of five free downloadable lesson plans and worksheets based on YouTube clips, aimed at inspiring teachers to expose students to the full range of English accents in the world.

The lessons are suitable for Pre-intermediate level classes and above, although the audio materials could be used with Elementary classes by adapting the tasks. The discussion questions related to accents and pronunciation could also be done in students’ first language if these are too challenging at their level. The materials could be used with adult or teen classes.

Ouissal – a Moroccan speaker of English

In this 5 minute video, 10-year-old Ouissal from Morocco gives 5 tips for learning English:

  • watch cartoons and movies
  • talk with people in your family in English
  • read stories
  • play silly games
  • listen to music

 

The lesson outline

  1. Students begin by only listening to the first minute (Ouissal’s introduction) and answering questions about this.
  2. Students predict the tips that they think Ouissal will give.
  3. Students listen and take notes about each tip, with the teacher stopping the audio after each one for students to compare their notes.
  4. Students discuss their own own ideas about how to learn English.
  5. Finally, students listen again and focus on Ouissal’s pronunciation of words beginning with ‘th’ and compare her pronunciation to their own. They discuss questions aimed at raising their awareness of the variety of different accents in the world, and that ‘different’ does not necessarily mean ‘less clear’.

You can download the student worksheet here  and the teacher’s notes here.

More links

Ouissal’s other videos on YouTube could also make interesting lesson plans, including:

katybannernew

 

ASEAN school exchange

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When I heard that a small group of teens from my school in Thailand were going on an ASEAN exchange to Indonesia and wanted help preparing to use English in that context, I jumped at the chance to talk to them about ELF.

What is ASEAN?

ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The member states are Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. There has been increasing focus on teaching children about ASEAN because the countries have forged closer ties in 2015 with preparations for a common market (the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC).

ASEAN-member-countries

What was the aim of the workshop?

To raise students’ awareness of the main differences between their own accents and the accents they might hear in Indonesia, and to build confidence interrupting and asking for clarification in the event of not understanding someone.

What materials were used?

I came across the Tumblr Accent Challenge while hunting for clips on YouTube of Indonesian teenagers speaking English. People from all over the world have uploaded videos of themselves pronouncing a set list of words and answering the following questions:

  • Pronounce the following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Pajamas, Caught, Naturally, Aluminium, GIF, Tumblr, Crackerjack, Doorknob, Envelope, GPOY.
  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is a bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
  • Choose a book and read a passage from it.
  • Do you think you have an accent?
  • Would you like to be a wizard or a vampire?
  • Do you know anyone on Tumblr in real life?
  • End the audio post by saying any THREE words you want.

I used this particular clip and this handout of the Tumblr Accent Challenge.

How was this used in the workshop?

  1. As you can see, the language level is quite high, so we went through the list of words and questions before listening. It was also useful for the students to try saying the words in the list to prepare for their task while listening, which was to think about the following question: “Do the people in the video say any sounds differently to you?”

  2. After watching the video, the students picked up on some quite specific points, e.g. the use of /d/ in ‘the’,  and other comments were more general like ‘they go up and down a lot’. It was also interesting because the speakers in the video answer the question ‘Do you think you have an accent?’ with ‘No’, which the students thought was funny, because to them the Indonesia teenagers had quite distinctive accents. They said they’d never heard Indonesian accents before.

  3. This was a useful springboard into talking about the students’ own pronunciation because it helped them to appreciate how people in Indonesia might feel about their Thai accents. I gave them a list of pronunciation features from the Lingua Franca Core that often affects the intelligibility of Thai L1 speakers’ English. You can download the handout here and adapt it as necessary. I asked the students to rate how clearly they think they can pronounce each of the features. In doing so, they were saying the words aloud and practicing them at the same time. Then we focused on the areas they felt they wanted more help with. We also talked about the importance of being aware that these features could lead to breakdown in communication, so you can choose different words if it seems that one particular word is not clear to your listener.

  4. Then we worked on interrupting people to say you don’t understand. First, we brainstormed phrases you could use (there’s space to do this at the bottom of the handout). This was unproblematic because knowing what to say is not the problem – actually saying it is another thing! Interrupting someone is culturally quite uncomfortable for Thai people to do, so it took a lot of practice. I spoke too quickly and the nominated student had to interrupt and ask me to speak slower. Then we also tried asking someone to explain one specific word they couldn’t understand. So I deliberately spoke about a topic they understood but inserted one difficult word.

The students responded very enthusiastically and I could see some real ‘lightbulb’ moments. These students were aged 16 and 17, so much older than I currently teach, and therefore able to discuss language variation and issues surrounding accents in a mature way. There were only seven of them and they had been selected to go on the trip. This was quite a different experience to my usual teaching, which is far more limited by time, large numbers of students, and exams. Still, it was an exciting project to be a part of, very briefly, because this is ELF in action. Maybe next time they’ll take me with them… !

katybannernew

English is everywhere

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This is the third and last in a series of posts about the Learning English Video Project. Read on to find out what the project is about, but if you’ve already read our other two posts then just scroll down to the ‘materials’ section.

What is the Learning English Video Project?

It’s a series of seven videos on the English Club website, each focusing on a different country – Brazil, China, Spain, Romania, Morocco, America, and the UK. The videos feature interviews with students and teachers talking about their own experiences of learning English. For teachers, they provide fascinating insight into different classroom approaches. For learners, the videos provide useful tips on how to improve outside the classroom and can help learners to reflect on their own motivation and attitude towards English . For anyone interested in ELF, the series is a goldmine of audio featuring proficient non-native speakers of English – something that most coursebooks do not provide.

English Club screenshot

The videos are quite long at around 16 minutes each. They’re all worth watching but if you’re short on time, our favourites were Thoughts from Brazil and Insights from China. If you have the luxury of time in class to watch these videos with students, then check out the accompanying classroom materials under each video. There are self-study materials too, with comprehension and vocabulary exercises,  so you could even set them for homework. But here’s what you could do if you don’t have time to use the full video in class…

Explore the theme ‘English is everywhere’

We watched all the videos and found some recurring themes pertinent to ELF, which we grouped under three titles: English outside the classroom, English experiences, and English is everywhere. In each blog post we’ve included YouTube links which open at the relevant parts of the different videos, with notes on when to stop each clip. We’ve also designed a student worksheet with some comprehension questions and discussion questions based on those extracts, and accompanying teacher’s notes / answer key, both of which can be downloaded in the materials section below. The worksheets are designed for Pre-intermediate groups and above, although classes at the lower end of Pre-intermediate might need extra support understanding some of the questions.

Materials

Clip for exercises 1 and 2:  Beatriz (Brazilian student)

Note: The link should start at the correct place (8 minutes 5 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Beatriz’s talk (at 9 minutes 49 seconds).

Clip for exercise 4: Madihaaziz (Pakistani technician in Morocco)

Note: The link for exercise 4 should start at the correct place (3 minutes 27 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Madihaadiz’s talk (at 4 minutes 16 seconds).

Clip for exercise 5: Second interview with Madihaaziz (Pakistani technician in Morocco)

Note: The link for exercise 5 should start at the correct place (2 minutes 13 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Madihaadiz’s talk (at 2 minutes 44 seconds).

Download the student worksheet here.

Download the teacher’s notes and answer key here.

 

katybannernew

English experiences

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This is the second in a series of posts about the Learning English Video Project. Read on to find out what the project is about, or if you’ve already read our previous post then just scroll down to the ‘materials’ section.

What is the Learning English Video Project?

It’s a series of seven videos on the English Club website, each focusing on a different country – Brazil, China, Spain, Romania, Morocco, America, and the UK. The videos feature interviews with students and teachers talking about their own experiences of learning English. For teachers, they provide fascinating insight into different classroom approaches. For learners, the videos provide useful tips on how to improve outside the classroom and can help learners to reflect on their own motivation and attitude towards English . For anyone interested in ELF, the series is a goldmine of audio featuring proficient non-native speakers of English – something that most coursebooks do not provide.

English Club screenshot

The videos are quite long at around 16 minutes each. They’re all worth watching but if you’re short on time, our favourites were Thoughts from Brazil and Insights from China. If you do have the luxury of time in class to watch these videos with students, then check out the accompanying classroom materials under each video. There are self-study materials too, with comprehension and vocabulary exercises,  so you could even set them for homework. But here’s what you could do if you don’t have time to use the full video in class…

Explore the theme ‘English experiences’

We watched all the videos and found some recurring themes pertinent to ELF, which we grouped under three titles: English outside the classroom, English experiences, and English is everywhere. In each blog post we’ve included YouTube links which open at the relevant parts of the different videos, with notes on when to stop each clip. We’ve also designed a student worksheet with some comprehension questions and discussion questions based on those extracts, and accompanying teacher’s notes / answer key, both of which can be downloaded in the materials section below. The worksheets are designed for Pre-intermediate groups and above, although classes at the lower end of Pre-intermediate might need extra support understanding some of the questions.

Materials

Clip for exercises 1 and 2: Giulio (Italian student, in Spain) 

Note: The link for exercise 1 and 2 should start at the correct place (6 minutes 55 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Giulio’s talk (at 10 minutes 29 seconds).

Clip for exercise 4: Beatriz (Spanish teacher of English)

Note: The link for exercise 4 should start at the correct place (13 minutes 56 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Beatriz’s talk (at 16 minutes 24 seconds).

Clip for exercise 8C: Giulio speaking about making mistakes

Note: The link for exercise 8C should start at the correct place (9 minutes 52 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of the transcript on the handout (at 10 minutes 13 seconds).

Download the student worksheet here.

Download the teacher’s notes and answer key here.

 

katybannernew

English outside the classroom

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This is the first in a series of posts about the Learning English Video Project. Read on to find out what the project is about, or if you’re already familiar with the videos then just scroll down to the ‘materials’ section.

What is the Learning English Video Project?

It’s a series of seven videos on the English Club website, each focusing on a different country – Brazil, China, Spain, Romania, Morocco, America, and the UK. The videos feature interviews with students and teachers talking about their own experiences of learning English. For teachers, they provide fascinating insight into different classroom approaches. For learners, the videos provide useful tips on how to improve outside the classroom and can help learners to reflect on their own motivation and attitude towards English . For anyone interested in ELF, the series is a goldmine of audio featuring proficient non-native speakers of English – something that most coursebooks do not provide.

English Club screenshot

The videos are quite long at around 16 minutes each. They’re all worth watching but if you’re short on time, our favourites were Thoughts from Brazil and Insights from China. If you do have the luxury of time in class to watch these videos with students, then check out the accompanying classroom materials under each video. There are self-study materials too, with comprehension and vocabulary exercises,  so you could even set them for homework. But here’s what you could do if you don’t have time to use the full video in class…

Explore the theme ‘English outside the classroom’

We watched all the videos and found some recurring themes pertinent to ELF, which we grouped under three titles: English outside the classroom, English experiences, and English is everywhere. In each blog post we’ve included YouTube links which open at the relevant parts of the different videos, with notes on when to stop each clip. We’ve also designed a student worksheet with some comprehension questions and discussion questions based on those extracts, and accompanying teacher’s notes / answer key, both of which can be downloaded in the materials section below. The worksheets are designed for Pre-intermediate groups and above, although classes at the lower end of Pre-intermediate might need extra support understanding some of the questions.

Materials

Clips for exercise 2:

Jose (Brazilian student)

Note for Jose: The link should start at the correct place (12 minutes 30 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Jose’s talk (at 13 minutes 25 seconds).

Michel (Congolese student in Morocco)

Note for Michel: The link should start at the correct place (13 minutes 32 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Michel’s talk (at 14 minutes 21 seconds).

Alex (Romanian student)

Note for Alex: The link should start at the correct place (8 minutes 30 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Alex’s talk (at 8 minutes 48 seconds). 

Clip for exercise 4:

Joanna (Romanian teacher)

Note for Joanna: The link should start at the correct place (9 minutes 26 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Joanna’s talk (at 10 minutes 01 seconds).

Clip for exercise 6:

Zhang (Chinese student)

The link should start at the correct place (12 minutes 27 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Zhang’s talk (at 13 minutes 22 seconds).

Clips for exercise 8: 

Amanda (Brazilian student)

Note for Amanda: The link should start at the correct place (9 minutes 50 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Amanda’s talk (at 11 minutes 30 seconds).

Tomas (Brazilian student)

Note for Tomas: The link should start at the correct place (13 minutes 25 seconds), but you need to stop it at the end of Tomas’ talk about gaming (at 14 minutes 41 seconds) before he continues to talk about a new topic (travel). 

Clips for exercise 10 D:

Amanda saying ‘school’ when she says “go to a very good school”

Jose saying ‘school’ when he says “I had in school, English”

Zhang saying ‘feel’ when she says “learning English, I feel”

Clips for exercise 10 E:

Amanda saying ‘that’ when she says “you’re not practising if you do that”

Zhang saying ‘breathe’ and ‘mouth’  when she says “my teacher every time encourage to breathe, open your mouth”

Download the student worksheet here.

Download the teacher’s notes and answer key here.

 

katybannernew

 

Buried treasure from the BBC! (post 2 of 2)

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This is the second post about gems of resources uncovered in the Aladdin’s cave that is the BBC Learning English website. Check out our first post for suggestions on using the BBC’s “Better speaking” series. In this post we’re looking at the BBC series “First sight, second thoughts”, which is about the experiences of immigrants who have built their lives in the UK, and includes interviews with people from India, Guyana, Mexico, Germany, Pakistan, Botswana and Iran.

If your students are likely to use English to communicate with other non-native speakers of English, you may want to familiarise them with a wider range of accents than is found your coursebook. Given that most classroom materials assume learners will need to interact with native speakers, you may need to turn to the Internet to look for audio featuring non-native speakers (NNS) of English, and this BBC series is a great place to start.

First sight, second thoughts

Each episode is quite long at about 10 minutes, and there are nine episodes in the series. So we’ve focused on three episodes which deal with the typical classroom topics of leisure, cultural differences, and proudest achievements. We’ve extracted parts of the audio featuring the NNS (as opposed to the presenters), and uploaded the files to Audioboo. You can access the audio by clicking on the name of each person below. We’ve also included matching extracts of the transcript (see below or download the Word document here), as well as a few suggestions on how you could use the audio in class.

Below the transcripts are notes on the speakers’ pronunciation, to help students identify distinctive features which might be true of other NNS (and maybe other speakers with the same L1). The purpose of including this information is not to get students to correct the speakers, but simply to notice how language is used in different ways in real life and prepare students for the kind of variation they are likely to hear.  It should be noted that these speakers are very proficient and clear, and any difficulty students might have while listening is likely to be caused by lack of familiarity with particular accents (an issue which this activity aims to address).

Note: Copyright belongs to the BBC and we do not intend to infringe this or claim the content as our own but merely provide suggestions as to how it might be used.

Episode 6 – Leisure

Before listening:

Ask students to discuss: “Have you ever moved to live in a new place? How did you meet people and make new friends?”. Tell students to listen and compare if any of their experiences are the same. Then tell students to listen again and make a note of what leisure activities the speakers mention.

After listening:

Make a list of suggestions for people who have recently moved to your town or city to help them meet new people.

Audio and transcripts:

Joao from Portugal

“My name is Joao Abreu. I came in 1970 from Madeira, Portugal. At the beginning when I came to London, my association was only with a few Portuguese people. Those of my family around here and also some of those I, I made friends when I was working in the hotel. Then I came to know, even, English people and make friends and of course things started getting better and better and easier for life, because life at the beginning was very difficult, not speaking the language and so on.”

Pronunciation notes: Joao pronounces the ‘th’ in ‘these’ more like /d/ and the ‘th’ in ‘things’ more like /s/, both typical of Portuguese L1 speakers.

 Bootsie from Botswana

“In London during my leisure time, I do sometimes mix with people from home because there are a lot of students in London from Botswana. It’s not a very big Botswana community but there are quite a few students from home that I do meet with and, in that way, it really makes me not to feel so homesick because they’re my own people, we speak the same language and it’s very exciting. And other than that…what I do most is like going to theatres, and I think that’s one of the best things and the best experience in living in this country that gives me so much exposure. I love theatres. I’ve been to quite a few and it’s very interesting…something completely different from home because we don’t have that back home. So, it’s really good going to cinemas…it’s really fun. And the only thing that I have a problem with, it’s like, the night life in London, it’s all to do with night-clubs and going to pubs and that’s not my kind of lifestyle. Because, really, if you don’t drink alcohol, if you’re not into that kind of, you know, fast and busy life it’s not interesting for me.”

Pronunciation notes: Bootsie often places the nuclear stress at the end of a phrase/clause (e.g.”leisure TIME” in the first line + “…alcoHOL” in the penultimate line).

 Frank from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

(Note: Frank refers to Zairean restaurants. Zaire was the name of the Central African state now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo)

“Actually, we have a night club which every weekend, Friday or Saturday, most people, they do go to enjoy there but myself, personally, I don’t. I used to but I stopped since I started my small business because I don’t have much time to go. But they do meet and we have some restaurants, Zairean restaurants. And especially when it was summer time. My barber shop is a good place to meet but not like a night club or a pub or a restaurant. No. It’s just, they like sometime to spend time, to have lovely time, to enjoy themselve, then go to a swimming pool or whatever. And, especially the one who work seven days a week.”

Pronunciation notes: Frank sometimes clips the end off words (e.g. “personal” not “personally” + “start” not “started” in the second line + “especiall” not “especially” + “sometime” not “sometimes” + “themselve” not “themselves”).

Episode 7 – Cultural differences

Before listening: 

Ask students to discuss: “Have you ever visited a different country? Did you notice any cultural differences? How culturally diverse is your town or city?”. Tell students to listen and compare if any of their experiences are the same. Then tell students to listen and again and make a note of any opinions the speakers express.

After listening: 

– Focus on past simple in Rajinder’s extract and ask students to tell a story about a time when they were confused or didn’t understand what was happening.

– Focus on Yen’s extract and ask students if any parts of their own culture have been ‘exported’ to other countries.

– For homework, ask students to research how culturally diverse their town or city is. For example, find figures about the number of  different nationalities represented in their community, find out how many different faiths have places of worship in their town or city, investigate specialist shops or restaurants selling food from other cultures, or find out if there are any special festivals specific to other cultures.

Audio and transcripts:

Rajinder from India

“The football craze here is sort of on a different scale. So, I wasn’t really aware of these football sort of fans and you know the people, sort of belonging to particular clubs. And it was winter, so I went out and I had a scarf, and I was wear- and that was a Villa scarf. For me, is a scarf is a scarf. And I was waiting for a bus at a bus stop and then three youths approached me – English people – and they start saying something to me and I really didn’t understood what they were saying. And then they sort of came close, then they started shoving me and then they sort of got my scarf and start sort of swinging me around. They really humiliated me and then they sort of punched me and then they sort of took scarf off me, and then they put it on floor and then they started sort of banging it with their feet. I thought they were crazy or something! And I went home and told my cousin what happened, then he gathered immediately. He said that there was a Villa match today and their team had lost and so they probably was taking some kind of revenge on you. I thought, well – that’s, that’s quite nice!”

Pronunciation notes: Rajinder’s /t/ is quite dental and not aspirated at the start of stressed syllables (e.g. ‘team’) and sometimes he rolls his ‘r’s slightly.

Yun from China (1)

“In Britain, I have noticed that Chinese culture play a more important role in British culture, in British people’s lives. And you can notice every Chinese New Year, all the shops have these promotions and try to sell Chinese food. And you can see that Kung Fu, Tai Chi are very popular, and the Chinese medicine. And a lot of British people eat Chinese food regularly and I can’t imagine, without Chinese food, how the British people live!”

Pronunciation notes: see below.

Yun from China (2)

“I think the British people are more interested in Eastern philosophy and probably because their life is busier and stressful and they want to relax more, or they want to search for some spiritual meanings in their life. Or maybe just a fashionable thing to do. So, that’s why they just go into this Chinese Fung Shui or meditation, Tai Chi…. everything.”

Pronunciation notes: Yun tends to soften or drop the /r/ and /l/ sounds at the ends of words (e.g. “culture”, “role”) and sometimes drops other word-final consonants (e.g. /z/ in “lives” and /t/ in “can’t”), all typical of Chinese L1 speakers.

Episode 8 – Proudest achievements

Before listening: 

“What types of achievements make people proud?”. Tell students to listen and compare if any of their ideas are the same. Then  tell students to listen again and make a note of the details of each speaker’s experience.

After listening: 

– Tell students they are going to talk about their proudest achievement. Brainstorm the type of information they should include in their story.

– You may like to give students a copy of the transcript and ask them to highlight any useful language they could use, such as “we wanted to…”, “I’ve achieved many things since…”, “I’ve been doing…”, “my biggest achievement”, and “I’m very proud of…”. Give students time to prepare their speaking before talking to a partner.

– As they are listening to each other, tell students to think of a follow up question they would like to ask their partner when they finish speaking.

Audio and transcripts:

Ana from Mexico

“In Leeds, we have a Latin American Women’s Support Group and this group has existed for the past 14 years. And the reason we founded this group was because we wanted to share our experiences of being Latin American in Leeds. But also, we wanted to support movements or activities by women in Latin America – women who were working for social change. We have had several projects, for example, we have supported indigenous people sort of fighting for their freedom and their lives.”

Pronunciation notes: Ana sometimes rolls her ‘r’s slightly and also seems to avoid /z/ (e.g. in “reason” and at the end of “Leeds” and “activities”), both typical of Spanish L1 speakers.

Muriel from Guyana

* NOTE: content may not be suitable for all teaching contexts.

“I’ve done different courses, teacher’s certificate, craft classes etc. But, within the last few years I’ve been doing a lot of television and film work. And my biggest achievement which I think to myself I’m a star…I was in “The Full Monty.” The Full Monty now….it’s a big film that was made by some unemployed people, and it was such a big film because the theme of the film was all men, of all sizes and shapes, that were trying to be strippers in a night club, to put on a show for women. So, you can imagine the joke it was to see bald-head men, old-men, big-belly men, you know.”

Mariann from Hungary

“Oh! Well! I think the biggest achievement is that I learnt a language to such an extent that I would never have been able to at home. Also, I’ve got my own business, which I’m very proud of and I might not have been able to done it at home. I feel I achieved more, maybe, than other people who were born here. Maybe because I was constantly struggling. I was constantly trying to prove myself. Maybe that gave me so much courage. But, yes I’m very proud of myself, and I’m very proud of what I achieved in the last 13 years.”

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