Ground Control to Major Tom is the first line of ‘Space Oddity’ – a David Bowie classic. It tells the story of an astronaut in space and it’s a fantastic song to practice your English with. My students love it! Hope you will too.
The copyright on the music has been cleared by YouTube, so teachers, feel free to share it with your students. RIP David Bowie – what a great story teller and what a great musician! Planet earth is blue without you.
Lyrics to Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom Ground Control to Major Tom Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom Commencing countdown, engines on Check ignition and may God’s love be with you
Everybody say ‘Hey!’. Now say ‘Yay!’. Well OK. ‘A’ is for day, like a day in May. A day in May when you go out to play. You don’t want to stay inside. No way. Go on, I say. Get out, OK. ‘A’ is for make, let’s make a cake. Mix it and put it in the oven to bake. Then take a break. ‘Cause ‘A’ is for wait. And wait and wait, how I hate to wait. It’ll be after eight when that cake’s on my plate. But I’m ready right now to celebrate. When’s your birthday? What’s the date? When’s your birthday? Shout out the date! ‘A’ is for game. How about a game? I’m glad you came so we can play a game. Can you guess my name? Is your name the same? What’s your name? Day, play, take, break, hate, wait, name, game. ‘A’ is for air, please care about the air. So we can be healthy everywhere. Here and there, don’t forget to share your teddy bear or your rocking chair. But you don’t need to share your underwear. Urgh! ‘A’ is for shape. What’s your favorite shape? An oval is the shape of an egg or a grape. Batman wears a cape to escape. ‘A’ is for race. He can win any race. So can Superman, flying through space to chase a bad guy all over the place. ‘A’ is for save, like money to save – money that your grandma or your grandpa gave because you’re a good kid and know how to behave. Fair, share, grape, shape, chase, place, gave, save. A’ is for rain, that goes down the drain, or blows all over in a hurricane. You can take a long trip on a train or a plane. You can go to Spain or Maine, or Ukraine. You can go anywhere, just use your brain. A’ is for mail. Send me an email. Are you male or are you female? Do you swim or sail? Are you mad when you fail? Do you want to sit and listen to a fairy tale? Yay! Once upon a time a long time ago there lived a little boy named Fluency MC. ‘A’ is for aid. Do you need a band aid? Or home made lemonade, in the shade? Don’t be afraid to get a bad grade. What matters most is the effort you’ve made. I know that you’ll make a lot of good grades. Collo and spark, you’ll have it made in the shade. Now say ‘Hey!’. Say ‘Yay!’. Well OK.
This rap video practices eight very common English phrasal verbs: take out, put in, put down, pick up, turn on, turn off, take off and put on.
We made it with our friend Jason R Levine, Fluency MC. He wrote the song and lyrics and we shot and edited it. Enjoy!
You can see these verbs explained in another video we made. Click hereto see it.
Turn it on Rap Video Script
Take it out. Put it in. Take it out. Put it in again. These verbs are only hard when you study them. Listen, watch, repeat and you can use them when you need them, which is every time you pick up a pen or start speaking. Put it down. Pick it up. Put it down. Pick it up again. Do it and the verbs will soon stick, stuck, stuck, my friend. Listen, watch, repeat and you can use them when you need them, which is every time you pick up a pen or start speaking. Take it off. Put it on. Take it off. Put it on again. To use these verbs you need to practice more than now and then. Listen, watch, repeat and you can use them when you need them, which is every time you pick up a pen or start speaking. Turn it on. Turn it off. Turn it on. Turn it off again. Practice these verbs and you’ll be happy in the end. Listen, watch, repeat and you can use them when you need them, which is every time you pick up a pen or start speaking. Turn it up. Turn it down. Turn it up. Turn it down again. Learning these verbs, I strongly recommend. Listen, watch, repeat and you can use them when you need them, which is every time you pick up a pen or start speaking.
You can see these verbs explained in another video we made. Click hereto see it. You can buy a book with the lyrics to all Jason’s songs here and contribute to help support the education of refugees. And click here to see this video with a clickable transcript.
Here’s a fun way to learn phrases we use to make arrangements and appointments in English. Sing them! Yes, sing them! It’s great for pronunciation and it’ll make them stick in your mind. You’ll also practice the days of the week. This video stars my son Tom who is also an English teacher and he has a terrific YouTube channel where he teaches phrasal verbs. Make sure you check it out and subscribe!
Click here to learn about the verbs fit and suit Click here to learn more verbs we use to talk about the future Click here to see Tom in another video about meeting and greeting
Making Arrangements Song Script
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. When are you arriving? Shall we meet on Sunday? What about Monday? When would suit you? When are you arriving? Can you meet on Sunday? What about Monday? When would suit you? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Can you meet on Monday? I can do Tuesday. I can’t do Tuesday. What about Wednesday? Hmmm. I’m busy Wednesday. I can’t manage Wednesday. What about Thursday? I can’t do Thursday. How about Friday? I can manage Friday. Yes, Friday works. OK, see you Friday. OK, see you Friday. OK, see you Friday. Friday works.
This video is also available with a clickable transcript. Click here to see it. Click here to learn about the verbs fit and suit Click here to learn more verbs we use to talk about the future Click here to see Tom in another video about meeting and greeting
This video tells the story of an event we came across going on in the street near our home. It was an art project that carried an important message about gun violence and homicides in the US.
Transcript I am an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery Community College and I am an artist. And this is a project I created called American Casualties in Drawing, in which we are drawing the amount of homicides in America from January first to September twenty-first of this year. How many? About ten thousand… ninty-seven hundred. When you tell somebody that twelve thousand people a year die from homicides in America, it’s just a statistic. But when you see ten thousand chalk body outlines stretched fifty feet wide eight blocks long, the reality of that number is there for you to see. It tells a story of the time that we live. Mayor Nutter giving us these ten city blocks, for us to take up space in the middle of a downtown center, is a testament to how important this is to the city. And, the feeling that you get when you lay down on the ground, and have somebody outline your body as if you had been killed by gun violence, I think is incredibly powerful. A thousand people a month are killed in America. We almost went to war because fourteen hundred Syrians were gassed. But in that same, in that same time period, a thousand American were gunned down in the street of America. So what I’m trying to do with this drawing is to show people the magnitude of the problem in America today. Awesome! Great effort. Don’t do it!
Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
Here’s a holiday rap for Christmas and the new year. Sing along and learn some holiday greetings with our friend Jason R. Levine, Fluency MC. We had fun making this video together one snowy Christmas. Here’s wishing you lots of fun for your holiday season.
Click here to see some more songs and stories Click here to see another rap we made with Jason about phrasal verbs
Wish List Holiday Rap Lyrics
Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? Peace and love and blessings from above. Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? English conversation with friends from many nations. Fun in learning, an ESLebration. Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? Happy new year, what’s your resolution? Human progress and peaceful resolution. Happy new year, what’s your resolution? To pave the way for democratic constitutions. Happy new year, what’s your resolution? Happy new year, what’s your resolution? Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? Sisters and brothers, helping one another. Merry Christmas. What’s on your wish list? Higher self esteem to achieve my dreams. Happy new year, what’s your resolution? Learn through collo, better English for tomorrow.
Greetings everyone, this is Jase, also known as Fluency MC. ‘Wish List’ talks about Christmas and New Years, but what it’s really about is peace, love and understanding across cultures and across the world. I shared my personal wishes and resolutions for this holiday season. When I ask you to share yours, please shout them out. This will help build your fluency. And, if you can make a video of your response, and upload it to your YouTube channel, please share the link in the comments below. Whatever your holiday season, and all year long, peace and much respect.
Click here to see some more songs and stories Click here to see another rap we made with Jason about phrasal verbs Click here to visit Jason’s website where he has lots more great raps Click here to watch this video with a clickable transcript
There’s a brilliant George Gershwin song that compares British and American pronunciation. It goes, ‘You say tomayto, and I say tomahto’. The lyrics are fantastic but they’re not 100% accurate which is troubling for word nerds. We wanted to create a song that reflected pronunciation differences with greater accuracy. Hope you like it.
I am English. I’m American. I speak English. I speak ‘merican. I say ‘tomahto’. I say ‘tomayto’. And oregano, the herb. And oregano, the herb. In our leisure. In our leisure. We like ballet. We like ballet. A matinee. A matinee. (Together) A ballet matinee. Our relationship is clearly very fragile. Fragile. Fragile. It borders on emotionally volatile. Volatile. Volatile. It’s futile. Futile. Don’t get hostile. Hostile. I eat pate. I eat pate. Like a gourmet. Like a gourmet. I take vitamins. Vitamins. I use vaccine. Vaccine. I take one route. My route’s different. I narrate. No, you narrate. And you dictate. No I dictate. You’ve got to translate. Translate. Birmingham. Birmingham. Canterbury. Canterbury. Leicester. Leicester. Worcester. Worcester. It’s a controversy. Controversy. There’s no respite. No respite. Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir. Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir. We’ve no defense. No defense. No privacy. Privacy. Dynasty. Dynasty. It’s zed. It’s zee. It’s buoy. It’s buoy. I like bananas. I like bananas. It’s a vase. It’s a vase. It’s a garage. It’s a garage. Aluminum. Aluminium. I am English. I’m American. I speak English. I speak ‘merican. We can’t dictate. We can’t dictate. We’ve got to translate. Translate. To see this video with a clickable transcript, click here. The IATEFL webinar that I mention at the end of this video is over now, but it has been archived for members to watch. Teachers – IATEFL is an excellent professional organisation and well worth joining.
Here’s an interview we recorded between a couple of English teachers that many of you may know. Rachel has a fantastic channel on YouTube teaching English pronunciation and Jason also has a fantastic channel where he teaches using rhyme, rhythm and raps.
An interview with Rachel of Rachel’s English transcript
Jason finds out how Rachel began her wonderful ‘Rachel’s English’ website Rachel, it’s so nice to be sitting down with you to talk. I met you once in “real life.” That’s right. But like many people, I feel like I know you from seeing your videos and following you. I have a lot of respect for your work. Thank you. And I’m so happy to have the chance to talk to you.I guess the first thing I want to ask, and I know a lot of people are interested in, is how did you get into teaching in the first place, was it English as a foreign language or a second language, was it something else and then, how did that connect or evolve into teaching pronunciation? Yeah, well, I think it was a bit of an unusual path. I did teach a little bit of ESL but mostly Rachel’s English grew out of something totally different, which was, I went to school for opera singing. Right. I have a Masters of Music in Opera Performance. And so through that I was getting really connected to this part of my body. So it was pronunciation first, in a sense, because you had this background in opera. Yeah, the ESL work that I did was useful but I don’t think it actually is related at all to the Rachel’s English thing that I’m doing even though I did have that experience. So, mostly it grew out of myself singing in other languages. And so I was studying the pronunciation specifically and the phonetics of Italian, French, German, English for the stage; I had studied Spanish. So, there was that, my relationship to learning the pronunciation of other languages. But maybe even more so, it was spending a decade really focusing on breath and you know tongue placement and these kinds of things. And I think that gave me a really clear language to talk about pronunciation for other people. Did you have a language teacher helping you with that or, and a music teacher, or were you learning the pronunciation of the languages through the music? It was in a class that specifically for “Diction for Singers”; so it was always related to the goal of singing for the stage. And it was focused on pronunciation and not somuch the languages, although I the did take a semester of Italian, a year of German, and a semester of French. So you almost had no choice; they focused you on pronunciation. Yeah, they did, because, you know, if you only have one year and you need to get all of these things under your belt, then that’s what’s the most important; because as a singer you can memorize a translation and, you know, the feeling of what goes where, but in order to sell it, you have to really sound like you know what you’re saying. And you were teaching English during that time or were you’d taught before? I did teach English as a second language a little bit during that time at a place in Boston were all of my students were Korean and it was mostly one-on-one or two-on-one, thirty minute sessions, and I really loved it. I think the rhythm of the language is so important, and the melody. And for me, having the background in singing has been really helpful for that, partially because singing is rhythm and is melody, but also I think I developed an ear through that for when I hear someone do something, I can imitate it quite well. And then I can find out what needs to be changed. So, often with students, I’ll imitate, think what needs to shift, and then be able to articulate that to them, for their pronunciation. That’s interesting. And do they know you’re doing that or is this your best kept secret you’re revealing right now? They do they know because they’ll be talking and I’ll say “hold on,” and then I’ll do it myself and I’ll say, okay your tongue needs to make whatever adjustment. I do that actually with grammar and vocabulary, if something’s high frequency, and I’ll kind of tune in to the collective use of English from listening but I don’t have that gift with pronunciation; so that’s great. For the W consonant, the tongue tip is down here, and the back part of the tongue stretches up, so the tongue stretches this way. Ww, ww, wow. For the R consonant, the back part of the tongue does stretch up, here towards the middle part of the roof of the mouth. The front part of the tongue pulls back. So, with the W, the tongue is stretching. With the R, the tongue is sort of pulling up into itself. I think I just have a real interest in the human voice and how we produce sounds,and vocal health, and this kind of thing. So that’s where my interest lies, not so much in even teaching a language, or, I mean, certainly not grammar! Sometimes teachers will correct my grammar in videos because it’s not always perfect. It’s all about your passion; follow your passion. That’s right. And so, like, pronunciation and the human voice, that’s where it is for me. So what happened as far as getting your work up on YouTube? Did you first imagine putting a video of yourself up there and reaching just your students or more students? No, actually, I didn’t have students when I first started the videos. I first started the videos when I was living in Germany and I was studying at a language institute there, so most of the people that in as in contact with were not American and also were not German: they were from all over the world studying German. And so I had a friend there from Turkey. And he was interested in American English because Hollywood is such a great exporter of American English, and wanted to sound more American. So we just played around a littlebit with a few of the sounds, and I was telling him, you know, what his tongue should be doing and this kind of thing. And he was like, wow, you’re really good at that. And I thought: hmm, idea! Actually, in undergrad, I studied computer science and in order to keep that skill set going, I had been wanting to make a website; I just didn’t really have a topic yet. But I knew that was something that I wanted to create and so when he told me he thought I was good at that, I thought, maybe that’s my idea. And so I made a few videos, put them on YouTube, connected them to a website, and just went from there. And how, what was the reaction at first? Nothing! There was no reaction for a long time. Why? Well, I wasn’t doing them with a business mind; I wasn’t promoting at all; I was just exploring, basically. And that was ok probably, at that point, or did it make you worried and nervous: nobody likes my approach? No it didn’t make me worried and nervous, no, not at all, because I wasn’t doing it for an audience. I was mostly doing it as a way to explore a website-production kind of thing. It’s great that you had this interest in both pronunciation and computers. Yeah, no, definitely. You weren’t an expert right? It just got you more into thinking about… In pronunciation? No, not pronunciation, I mean that I’m just wondering, especially for people out there thinking about doing any kind of online anything, but especially teachering or students who want to study online, who might be a little afraid of technology thinking that they can’t do it. It sounds like you kind of dove in. One step at a time. Oh totally. I mean, when I realized what I needed to learn, I learned it. I did not start Rachel’s English at all with an idea of what it would be, like, in no way, and I’m still not sure what it will be. And that’s important to the point now, because it’s gotten, it’s so well done now. I think that someone who hasn’t followed you for as long as I have or as long as many otherpeople here may have, would just think that, wow that she just, boom, but it didn’t happen that way, it grew. It started out in a dorm room in Germany. When was that, by the way? That was 2008. This October will be my 5th year anniversary of posting my first video. Congratulations in advance; that’s great. Thank you. I want to ask you more about the rhythm of English, because I focus a lot on that too. What techniques have you found most useful? Because there are a lot out there. Yeah, well, I’m still developing that actually. But I’ve had a lot of fun recently working with students where I actually take the actual words out of the picture, and we just work on rhythm. So, for example, let’s just take that phrase da-da-DA-da: for example. And when you take the text out, you’re just focusing on the rhythm. Then the main thing I haveto do with my students is to make their short even shorter, duh duh duh duh, trying to make them comfortable with that kind of length; and then once they start having, like, the rhythmic language down, and they’re comfortable with that contrast and with making things that short, then when they put the word back in it’s just unreal how much better it sounds. And then they’re so aware of the difference so if you don’t hear it yourself, feel it yourself, then you’re not going to catch it when people say it. Yeah. It’s such a matter of boiling things down to the most simple units for teaching. So, like the L consonant, just drilling that, or in this case the rhythm, just drillingthat, out of the context of the word or phrase. And then you know you can teach people that this rhythmic pattern can apply to all ofthese different words. And so, yeah, then as they really drill one word and one pattern, they’re actually making themselves comfortable with the pattern that can be applied to tons of different words and sentences. And you said you’re still developing this, so imagine where she’s going to go with… Yeah, I’m excited about it! …teaching the stress and what I call “shrinking and linking.” I just wanted to go back to ask you, when you first started out and you were making those videos, did you think about the fact that so many students don’t have enough time in the class? I mean, you were teaching a group of Korean students. Yeah, that was about a year before I started the Rachel’s English thing. Was part of it, were you also inspired or motivated to try to deliver something to individual students who wouldn’t necessarilyhave that kind of attention to pronunciation? Well, yeah, in a way. When I was teaching at the institute in Boston, all of my students told me no one else cared about the pronunciation the way I did, and they really cared. So they really wanted a teacher who really cared. Well, can you imagine someone who is trying to learn a language who’s not concerned about pronunciation? But it’s true, what you’re saying. I hear this complaint from a lot from students that teachers aren’t focusing on it. So definitely that was in the back of my mind and the videos were made completely for self-study. I know that teachers do use them in the classroom but my original idea was just to have a great resource to use on their own because for me, since I left college, everything I’ve had to know, I taught myself. The library, or online resources, or whatever. Languages, computer stuff. That’s interesting. I love that kind of learning. Well, I can see how that has benefitted you and your work. Yeah, definitely. Basically, I wanted to make something for English like I wished I was finding for French, and German, and Italian. I thought it wasreally fun. I wanted to sort of provide this service for students. I think it’s really interesting that you made them for self-study. You didn’t really think about a teache bringing them into the classroom. But now, I notice a lot of teachers using it in the flipped classroom model. The other day, literally the other day at a college where I was doing a workshop, teachers were talking about the problem we just talked about: students want more and what should they do because they don’t feel trained enough. I think that’s a big reason why it’s not. I think so, too. I’ve had teachers say the same thing: I don’t know how to teach that. I’m a teacher trainer. My job is to try to train up teachers to be able to do that and now I’m wondering if that is the best way because the other day teachers were gathered at this college in New Jersey. One teacher said, You know there’s this great teacher online, that teaches pronunciation. Students can just watch her, she’s online, I knew she was going, and she said, Rachel’s English! True story. That’s awesome! I smiled to myself “I’m going to have a conversation with her!” What she said was, “What I do with my students is just, you know, ask them to watch on their own or, and/or I learn from Rachel as a teacher how to do this in ways that I haven’t been able to do from books or even taking classes.” It feels great to know that I’m providing something that can be helpful to teachers, too. Because you know teachers, obviously, it’s one person, and they’re reaching many,many, many so if I can help the teacher, then there’s just that many more people that are benefiting from it. But yeah, I think that the idea of the flipped classroom is so greatbecause, you know, not only do the teachers not need to learn every single thing to teach directly, they can sort of be a curator of other resources, and oversee the process of learning for their students. It’s a very specific skill set to teach pronunciation, different maybe than the to teach a language, and grammar,and classroom management. You would know, and she would know that, better than anyone. That’s right, so, you know, not every teacher needs to be a great musician and a you know super great at teaching pronunciation if they know other resources that they can recommend. Aren’t we at a time in history, with education, where, you know, teachers can be facilitators, guides, curators, mentors, you know, if you want to learn to be a great pronunciation teacher, fantastic; but if you don’t or if you don’t have the time, what’s the point of being a mediocre one, when you can go see Rachel. Exactly, that’s exactly right. I mean, a great teacher is maybe one that knows, well, this person teaches this so well, there’s nothing more that I feel like I could add to it, let me point my students in that direction, let them work with the material, and then I can be there for questions and guidance, and that kind of thing. I think it’s so important. And I think, ultimately, it’s just going to make education a lot better. Yeah, I think so, too. So you had that experience teaching in a classroom. Someone the other day said, talking about ‘ground teachers’, or teachers on the ground. I love that. Instead of, like, ‘first life’ or ‘real life’. Are you a ground teacher also? I’m not right now, actually. You’re not on the ground. Not on the ground. Yes, only in the cloud. But I do have plans to start developing, maybe, some in-person workshop kind of things, then maybe move more into longer-term classroom situation. I’m really not sure. I mean, I just, for every video I make I have ideas for a hundred. I feel like I have a lot on my plate with what I’m doing virtually. And so, I do really want to move into that, because I think that in-person aspect is so interesting. Well, they can go hand-in-hand. Can’t they? They can. The blended learning doesn’t just have to happen with the teacher flipping the classroom, it can also be, people are watching your videos, but here you are in person… I think, definitely. I see myself moving in that direction at some point, but it’s not in the short-term plan. You just got back from a trip. I did. I was spying on you a little bit on the trip. I don’t usually spy. I made it easy. I guess it’s easy for us to spy on each other and many others who are watching, so it’s kind of fair. So tell us where you were, and also tell us, how much was work, how much was pleasure? Because I did see you met some students. I did. …where you were. So tell us how that was. Well, I had my first-ever meetup, in Berlin. Two students came. What? It was great! Not 200? Not 200. Two students came, neither of them are German. It was fantastic! We sat down to coffee; we were there for about two hours and, just, discussed everything about who they are. It was just fantastic getting to know them as people. It was very motivating for me, actually, to think these are real people, these are the people who are using my videos. And, like, wow. I mean, it’s easy sometimes, I think, to lose track of that when, as in my case, I’m only doing virtual teaching. I’m doing no one-on-one teaching. Rachel, there are so many people out there who want to meet you at meetups in Brazil. I know! In Russia, in Taiwan. I’d like to do more, definitely. So you said you are interested in doing the on the ground workshops, so when are you going to…where? Well, the most vocal group of people is in Brazil. Yes. So I will probably end up there at some point, I hope. I hope, fingers crossed. But also, I live in New York City and that’s such a melting pot, there’s so many people there; it’s crazy that I haven’t done something in New York City. I should. Wow! We should talk about that. We should! Great. Rachel, I know a lot of people out there, both teachers and students who follow you, are probably really interested to know how you make your videos. How do you makevideos, how often do you do it, how long does it take, do you do it on your own, do you do it with other people’s help… Yeah. Well, I try to do two a week and it takes, depending on the length of the video, it takes around ten hours per video. Ten hours per video. That includes editing all the way to the end? Yeah, that includes everything: brainstorming, writing out the transcript, doing my hair and make-up, the lights, all of the set-up. How much help do you get with that? I had been doing it entirely on my own until about maybe six months ago. I had someone come in and help me, because rather than doing it at home, I started doing it at the YouTube studios in Manhattan, where they have all of the equipment already set up. That must have been really nice. It was great. It was fantastic. But I have to have someone run the camera and the teleprompter and help me if I meant to say ‘consonant’ but accidentally said ‘vowel’. That kind of thing happens all the time as I’m talking. But yeah and then, there’s, the editing takes quite a bit of time. I try to put some of the IPA and text up on the video screen. Yeah, I noticed that you’re doing more of that. Typing up the transcript, making, you know, an interactive transcript version for my website. The whole process is about ten hours. How much of that process has evolved from when you first started? And how much have you changed, either, what you do, your approach to teaching pronunciation, and the video-making, in response to what students have told you, or teachers have told you they liked or didn’t like? Well, I guess I haven’t actually gotten so much feedback that shapes how I make the videos. I more get, suggestions for topics which I try to do. Is there anything you haven’t covered yet, as far as, consonants, vowels? Well, I still have some blend work I would like to do. But the sounds are pretty much there. It’s more fleshing out the rhythm. As I said, I feel like I’ve got sort of a gray idea of how I want that to go, so trying to sharpen that. Really, I said before, for every video I have I ideas for a hundred more. I mean, I could right now write down a thousandvideos that I would like to make. Do you? Or do you just keep them like.. I keep track as I go. But a lot of them are, like, I get an idea of a way to teach a sound and so then, that would be thirty-three different videos because I would do it for every sound, and that kind of thing. Right, right. I just want to take this opportunity to say that if you are a teacher, or even just a learner of English, or anything, if you wanted to write down your ideas and start video taping your ideas, it’s so easy now. It is, yeah. To get stuff out there. Even, you know, starting like you did. Not with a mission to become what you’ve become, but just as an interest in what you were studying and learning. Right, just exploring what’s interesting. Yeah, and, you know, at that point, to know anything about a website, design, was kind of unusal, compared to now. Oh it’s so easy now. You don’t need to know anything now. Yeah, except that way you can focus on.. Right, the content. And not the vehicle to get it out there, but more, just, the content itself. Which is great. Yeah. Have you found any areas of teaching pronunciation that are particularly difficult to master as a teacher? And I also wanted to ask you, from a student’s perspective, if a student is feeling frustrated with learning something in pronunciation, I wonder how much of that is due to, you know, the fact that it reallyis difficult because of their first language, learning English, or how much maybe is like, oh, I just didn’t know this trick, or something. Right. I guess I have a couple of different answers for that. First is that I think that the rhythm is the most important thing in capturing the language, the character of the language, much more important than sounds. Rhythm. Yeah, rhythm. You heard it here from the expert. I’m so 100 percent behind you. And so it’s been, as I said, I’m developing sort of my way for teaching that. So that’s coming along, but there’s one topic that I’m actually still struggling with teaching, andthat has to do with the placement of the voice. So in American English…umm…uhhhh…that’s our core sound. It’s very much so here. The schwa basically; the elongated schwa. Exactly! And as a singer, I have dealt a lot with placement, but not in a very concrete way. What do you mean by placement exactly? Well, no, exactly, that’s part of why it’s hard to explain, and something a lot of people don’t think about, but for me it’s like, where does my voice live inside my body. And for me, and I think for Americans, it’s generally a lot lower; other languages it tends to bemore nasal. If I take American English as my base and I compare it to other languages,for example Mandarin. I’ve had some students that just have a very, very nasal delivery; and it also just has to do with the placement. Their voice seems to live so much in their face, completely detached from the body. Whereas for me, I think it really lives in the body and then the face is sort of where the shape of the sound will happen. So that’s been sort of hard to teach because it’s not at all like, “oh you need to round your lips a little bit more.” It’s not something that people can see that’s concrete. It’s like, where does your voice live in your body, that’s sort of a difficult… Do you think people that develop high accuracy and fluency in their pronunciation, delivery through just experience; and, you know, just like anything else in language, they’re not aware of what we’re talking about; do you think that’s the way, in this case? It sounds like the Holy Grail: if you can find whereyou’re voice lives. You can go from sounding not quite right to sounding very American really quickly if you can make that adjustment. Does it come from just the input and the practice or is it something you could make a video for? I’m working on a video series for it right now, but also a lot of it can be achieved through imitation. Yeah, but for some people they’ll say “I know it’s not right, but I don’t know why it’s not right.” And oftento me it’s related to placement. So I’m trying to make some videos that will talk about thatin a concrete matter. Also, I’m very lucky to have found a teacher who I’m working with now named Tom Kelly. And he is an actor and he has a Master’s in Acting from Harvard. He has a great background, speech for the stage; and placement and how to make someone hear you in the very back of the theater and relaxation of the vocal apparatus and everything. Would say he knows where his voice lives? I would say he does, and he seems to have language about moving that around and some techniques for that. So he and I are working together. So if you can learn from him, you can take that and formulate it somehow. He and I are talking actively about a video series where we work together on that. That’s really interesting. So we can look forward to more of that. Hopefully we’ll figure out how to teach it. It’s almost like “metaphysical. Exactly! That’s why it’s so hard. Rachel, not long ago I started teaching in a virtual classroom on WizIQ. I got hooked. The first time I did it I dragged my feet getting into a virtual classroom. As soon as I got in there, people were in the chat box meeting each other “Oh, I’ve seen you, nice to see you there” She’s talking, I have the mike and we’re reaching all these people, the way you do with your videos. Have you done any work in a virtual classroom? Not entirely, I do have an online course but it’s focusing more on the student interacting with the materials on their own and then one-on-one with me. Tell us about that. What’s your online course like. Well, it’s eight weeks, and basically I cover the topics that I found I work on the most with my private students. But since there’s so much one-on-one time, that doesn’t reallymatter. If something they need to work on isn’t covered in the course, we work on it together. It’s always one-on-one or do you do small groups? It’s always one-on-one. Do you Skype? Yeah, we Skype. But actually, Tom, the teacher I was talking about, is teaching a course for me right now. So I did it four times; he’s doing it twice, and I think we’re going to have a good enough sense for what worked well and what could work better that when he’s done we’re going to brainstorm and I think really revamp it to include much more of that sort of, you know, one to five kind of thing. Once you’re more certain about what people share, their needs. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m looking forward to it because I think that when studentscan hear another student being coached and they’re not actively engaged in having to react, they can just watch, I think that’s a great opportunity for learning, too. Yeah, I agree. And then also you can meet more private students this way because more people will come into those classrooms. They learn from each other, they learn from me; I think it’s fantastic. And also knowing people from all over the world is such a cool thing. You know, when I firststarted doing this and they were getting popular and so people were asking me, “Do you teach?” and I hadn’t yet ever online. And that must have just really shocked people to hear that. It was crazy. Yeah, and so I wasn’t sure how beneficial it would be to teach someone on Skype, you know, with pronunciation especially when you’ve got the mike and the speaker thing. So what’s it like? It’s been great! So if I invited you into a virtual classroom one day, would you accept? I would love it. I would love to see what that’s like. I’m teaching with students but also I have a plan to bring teachers together coming up. Stay tuned for that. Fantastic! Of course, I’d love for you to come. Yeah, that’d be great! Excellent! Rachel, it’s such an honor and privilege to have you here. Thank you for having me. It’s been very fun. And this is the first episode or edition of “The Best in ELT with Fluency MC” so I’m really, really happy you agreed to come and it was great talking to you. Yeah, you too. I hope everybody enjoyed this conversation; I know I did. And please stay tuned for further editions of “The Best in ELT with Fluency MC” only in WizIQ. Thanks so much. Peace and much respect.
Click here to see more videos on pronunciation Click here to see another video we made with Rachel. Follow these links to Rachel’s English and Fluency MC’s channels if you haven’t already.
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/collolearn Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FluencyMC Twitter: https://twitter.com/fluencymc Mailing List Sign up: http://fluencymc.com/starter-course/ Website: http://fluencymc.com Click here to see more videos on pronunciation Click here to see another video we made with Rachel. Click here to see one of Jason’s raps that we recorded.
Looking or free English reading practice? Here’s a very funny short story by James Schofield that provides excellent vocabulary practice. You’ll love the clever twist at the end. James is an English teacher and a very talented writer. This story was first published in print in http://www.business-spotlight.de/. Find out about James’ latest writing project at http://www.jrtschofield.blogspot.de
Full Moon Short Story Video Script
Nick Samuel was 48, married to Claire, and had two nice children at an expensive private school and was worried that he was about to lose the job that paid for them all. He was the Human Resources director for Topfoods plc and normally enjoyed his work. Until the day the Chief Executive Officer of Topfoods, Jerome Jones (or JJ as he was called) discovered diversity. “Diversity?” asked Nick when JJ called him into his office. “Yes, Nick. Do all people in this company have equal opportunities for promotion? Or is it only white middle-class males like you?” And you, thought Nick. He pointed out that 45% of Topfoods managers were women, 32% were ethnic minorities and that the offices and factories had all recently been redesigned to allow wheelchair access. “It’s not enough, Nick. What about gays? Or single parents? Did you know that scientists somewhere have proven that culturally diverse teams produce better results than unmixed teams?” “Yes,” said Nick. “I read that article in the London Business Journal last month.” “Good. Well, the Journal is giving an award to the CEO who provides the best example of diversity in action and I want to win it. “I want someone spectacularly diverse in a senior job.” “Doesn”t that depend on their skills, JJ?” asked Nick nervously. “Oh, we’ll find a job where they can’t do any damage. Perhaps say goodbye to somebody who’s been too long in one area.” “So it’s just about winning this diversity award is it?” asked Claire that evening. “Definitely. Perhaps I should tell JJ about… you know…” “Oooo. Too risky,” she said. “Just do as he says and find some interesting candidates in the company. I bet there are lots!” So for the next three weeks Nick interviewed people and produced a file of twelve high-potential possibilities for JJ. “Why are these profiles anonymous?” “I only got this information from the individuals on the basis of anonymity. If you decide you want to offer one of them something, I can arrange a meeting with you. Shall I begin?” “OK.” ”Candidate A is 32 and has qualifications in marketing. She’s divorced and has a 3-year old son and a girlfriend.” “Excellent! Is she pretty? Would she look good in photographs?” “That’s sexist JJ, don’t say that at the awards, but yes, she is. She is also a practising witch and can turn …” “Wait a minute … a witch?” “Yes. Black magic. Very useful in the strategy department.” “You’re kidding!” “No really, JJ. She’s well-known in witch circles.” “We can’t promote a witch!” “Well, it makes her very diverse.” “I’m not interested in weird diverse, Nick. I want award-winning diverse. What about the next one?” “Candidate B is a 28 year old junior accountant who went partially deaf three years ago …” ”Good so far …” “… and is a very skillful mind-reader. He knew exactly what I’d planned for the weekend. He could be head of auditing.” “I do not want a mind-reader next to me in meetings! Next!” And so it went on for another ten candidates. There were four who communicated with ghosts, three who could move furniture with their thoughts, two more mind-readers and one genuine zombie. “I know that guy, Nick! I saw him eating a cat at lunchtime down in the garage a month ago but I thought I was mistaken. This is terrible!” “I’m sorry JJ,” said Nick. “It’s amazing how much diversity there is in the company.” “This award was a crazy idea of yours, Nick. What did you say to these weird … I mean the people you interviewed? Are they expecting something?” “No. I just said that we might promote somebody on the basis of their special skills.” “OK, let’s forget about this and destroy that information. If the newspapers find out about this…” Nick went home early that evening. “You were right of course,” he said to Claire over supper. “Lucky I didn’t say anything about my … um … special feature.” Claire laughed. “Oh, don’t forget the time. The moon will be out soon.” Nick scratched his chin, which badly needed shaving. “Yes, such a bore. Thank goodness it’s only one night a month. Shall we go for a walk after I’ve changed?” “That would be nice”, said Claire. I’d like some fresh air.” So half an hour later, with a bright full moon shining in the sky, Claire Samuel could be seen walking down the street while her husband trotted behind her and sniffed the bottom of all the lampposts.