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January 8, 2020

Hi friends! Happy New Year!! 2020 is upon us. Thanks for joining. Every week (or at least as regularl
January 8, 2020
By Kristopher Wan • Issue #38 • View online
Hi friends!
Happy New Year!! 2020 is upon us. Thanks for joining.
Every week (or at least as regularly as I can), 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
Rang, O., & Moran, M. (2014). Functional Loads of Pronunciation Features in Nonnative Speakers’ Oral Assessment. TESOL Quarterly, 48(1), 176-187. Retrieved from
In the research world of applied linguistics and English language teaching, there is a term called functional loads, which ranks phonemic errors and features to give a hierarchy of “worse” and “better” errors to have because they impact a listeners’ comprehension more or less.
The TH sound has a relatively low functional load. Therefore, dey for they isn’t so bad an error.
However, a mix up between P and B has a higher functional load and can lead to more confusion if pit and bit are pronounced incorrectly.
Rang and Moran (2014) studied the differences in errors made across 4 levels of English language proficiency and the most significant improvement across levels was found mostly in the high functional load errors, but not necessarily in the low functional load errors.
By targeting high functional load differences, English language learners can get the biggest bang for their buck. Furthermore, it means non-native English communicators can still perform well and communicate effectively regardless of their complete conformity to native norms.
đź’¬ Thoughtful Quote
“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
― J.M. Barrie
Keeping perspective and knowing that you are not being forced to do anything is important in any skill development. Whether it is learning new or different ways to pronounce English words or any other skill like photography or skateboarding or woodworking.
You have the option to always stop and pick up a video game, watch Netflix or do something else. But if it is truly important to you and you have the foresight to see its importance, then maybe it is worth the effort.
In 2019, I gave up video games to be more productive with my time. I still have struggles and will watch way too much YouTube, but I becoming more comfortable with not gaming and trying to focus my energy on something more productive for me.
đź“– Vocabulary Word
halcyon (adj.) - THINK HAL-see-un
denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.
Now here’s an example of a contextual word. You may never have seen, used, or needed to use this word.
If you were listening to the music artist, Ellie Goulding, in 2012 then you may have seen her music album - Halcyon and wondered about that yourself. Words are contextual, redundant and come in and out of popularity. Different English speaking countries may use different words to communicate the same meaning. Different English speaking countries may use different slang or idioms to communicate the same sentiment.
Knowing what works in your local area is important to figuring out how to best communicate your message.
Talking about football in Europe is very different than talking about football in the United States. So, it isn’t as simple as whether you pronounced the sounds accurately. There’s an extra layer of context and audience consideration to communicate effectively.
Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding
đź’Ž Tech Finds
Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode.
Now, I think a majority of people reading this newsletter already have a grasp of English and can have a basic conversation, but I wanted to highlight new technological advancements in the pipeline that may be good alternatives or supports in the future.
It’s an amazing time to be alive and knowing that technology is coming to support inter-language communication is awesome news.
When working in the hospital setting, speech language pathologists work with patients to reveal their competency. Although patients may cognitively retain a lot of their function, damage to certain parts of the brain may limit their ability to express their cognitive ability and to a third-party , they may seem incompetent or incapacitated.
I think non-native communication shares similarities in that, unfortunately, there is a stigma or incorrect bias that non-native English communicators are as inferior. Technology like interpreter mode may help to reveal each others’ competency across languages.

Google Assistant’s interpreter mode translates 27 languages
Google Assistant’s interpreter mode translates 27 languages
❌ Message Mishap
30A versus 38.
I stumbled upon this
You may notice that when you say these two words quickly, they start to sound similar.
Focusing your attention and pronunciation on the differences between the two is important and helpful for communicating clearly.
The way you present the information is important too. Not just what you say.
Think about the way your food is presented in a restaurant. If it is simply slopped onto a dish versus deliberately placed onto a plate, it communicates a different level of intentional effort. It is exactly why we tip waiters who provide excellent service, because it makes the overall experience (not just the food) more enjoyable.
Did you enjoy this issue?
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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