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Thursday, June 19, 2014

My ESL / EFL Colleagues - # 1: Rachel's English

This post is the beginning of a new weekly section on this blog concerning my ESL and EFL colleagues who do good work, work which deserves to be noticed and shared. Some would say I'm giving free advertising space to my competitors, but I'm simply a realist: smart teachers and students know that no single site or  method is "the best". The best way to learn English is to discover the wide variety of sites on the web in order to find out which ones work best for you, the learner or teacher. The needs and preferences of each learner are different in a wide variety of ways. By searching and trying out many of the best sites like the ones you will find here, you will create your own library of resources.

We will begin with Rachel's English. This is her site. The most important components of her work are her videos on YouTube. She specializes in American English Pronunciation. As this picture suggests she's a real livewire. Her enthusiasm is obvious in all her clips and is frankly contagious in my experience.

One reason I like her work is that she very often emphasizes the difference between "perfect English", which sounds very artificial to the ears of native speakers, and natural English. This is what I call "classroom English" as opposed to "spontaneous" or real English.

This clip illustrates the principle very well.
You will see and hear many examples of the strange sound of perfect English immediately followed by the normal way of pronouncing the same sentences.

Also, we all have our own jargon when it comes to our specialties. In Rachel's case, you will learn what "reductions" are, as well as the "true T" sound, in addition to the "Flat T" and the "Stop T", for example.

You will also meet Tom Kelley in this clip (picture above), and in many others which deal with the Relaxation and Contractversation series, which he wrote. Tom is an actor and language coach living in New York.  He has an MFA from Harvard University's acting program, where he took courses in phonetics as part of his voice and speech training.

I just learned that Rachel is going to take a road trip across America this summer. It sounds exciting. I think of all the different types of American English that could be recorded or filmed during such a trip from the East to the West Coast and back again. In any case, she has promised us a weekly video during the trip. I'm looking forward to that!

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