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December 4, 2019

Hi friends! Every week, I generate a quick brief about 5 interests for the week relating to accent mo
December 4, 2019
By Kristopher Wan • Issue #35 • View online
Hi friends! Every week, I generate a quick brief about 5 interests for the week relating to accent modification and English learning. If you have a few minutes on your commute to work or lunch break and want to consume some interesting content in the world of English learning, enjoy!

🧠 Journal Club
This week’s journal article is actually a published university thesis. The thesis asked 2 questions.
  1. How do daily communicative situations with native speakers of English affect Japanese-accented English speakers’ relationships over time?
  2. How can we use this information to open up a dialogue about accent and identity in the context of accent modification?
This time around, I chose research where the focus is on the qualitative and subjective perceptions of two 35-45 years old Japanese-English communicators. It’s fascinating to hear how the perceptions and outlook on power, identity and accent change over time.
Through these interviews, the idea that the way one speaks is a way to negotiate their power within a society emerges. The feelings you have about your accent are both the origin and the product of the way you exercise your power in society during communicative situations with others.
If you are able to leverage symbolic or material resources in a situation to your advantage, you are exercising a power which in turn shapes your outlook and identity. Your accent and language skills reflect one symbolic resource in the grand scheme of things. You can either leverage them to gain more material and/or symbolic resources or you can neutralize them by gaining more material and/or symbolic resources without focusing on them.
I know it’s sort of heady, but the point is…
Accent and communication impacts your self-identity and can have rippling effects as well as be affected by your power dynamics in society. If you have more symbolic resources or material resources, maybe accent and communication have a lesser impact. If you leverage accent and communication, maybe you can increase your symbolic or material resources, which can then help you grow your identity. It’s all one big, confusing interconnected and complex relationship though.
💬 Thoughtful Quote
“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
There is a powerful optimism and perseverance that can be derived from taking control and ownership for your life. There will always be limitations on your situation. There will always be things that will hinder you, block your path or deter you from success.
Figuring out how to believe in yourself and your potential in spite of those situations and apparently limitations with a willingness to experiment, persist and do so with some degree of intensity is worth exploring.
Otherwise, you’re just left with reasons why it won’t work.
Reasons why you will fail
Reasons why you were less fortunate
Reasons why it was too tough
And I don’t personally believe that perspective is worth considering.
📖 Vocabulary Word
Aspiration (n.)
  • a strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition
  • a goal or objective that is strongly desired
  • the act of aspirating or breathing in.
  • articulation accompanied by an audible puff of breath, as in the h-sound of how, or of when (hwen), or in the release of initial stops, as in the k-sound of key.
  • the act of removing a fluid, as pus or serum, from a cavity of the body, by a hollow needle or trocar connected with a suction syringe.
  • the act of inhaling fluid or a foreign body into the bronchi and lungs, often after vomiting.
You are reading this correctly. There are many possible interpretations of the word aspiration.
The point though, is that this can be a very specific word. I only use the word frequently because in my profession, I commonly refer to “the act of inhaling fluid or a foreign body into the bronchi and lungs, often after vomiting”.
This may not be an important word for you. And rather than spend your time and energy learning words you don’t need to know, it’s important to focus your energy and attention to words that you will use.
So make a list.
Jot down words you hear at work or use at home.
Practice this list because it will be useful to you.
Grow your English skills based on this focused effort.
💎 Tech Finds
Definitely not the most UI or design-oriented app, but worth exploring to get an English idioms dictionary in your pocket.
English speakers use idioms so commonly that it’s hard for a native English speaker to empathize or realize they may be confusing or that the phrases they use are not intuitive.
“to talk back to”
“to be had”’
“out of the question”
The meaning behind these phrases is not always clear – especially if you have never heard the phrase before.
So, familiarizing yourself with common English phrases and idioms is a way to adjust and integrate.
❌ Message Mishap
Communication breakdowns can 100% occur even when you pronounce the words correctly. Many non-native English communicators expect it to be black and white; understood or not understood, native speaker or non-native speaker.
There are many reasons why miscommunications can occur.
Pitch and intonation play a huge role in conveying your message clearly.
Pitch and intonation refers to the range of your voice and its use in multi-word phrases.
When you ask a question, your pitch rises at the end of your sentence.
When you say a statement or fact, your pitch falls at the end of your sentence.
If you ask a question, “How are you?” but your pitch falls at the end, you are sending mixed signals.
If you are saying a statement, “Yes, I can do it?” but your pitch rises at the end, you are sounding uncertain.

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Kristopher Wan

Hey friends, I'm Kris, a speech-language pathologist interested in and pursuing a side-hustle in accent modification. Every Wednesday I send out a "5-bullet brief" email newsletter with some thoughts, research and internet treasures relating to accent modification and English language learning.

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