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November 20, 2019

Hi friends! Every week, I generate a quick brief about 5 interests for the week relating to accent mo
November 20, 2019
By Kristopher Wan • Issue #33 • 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
Derwing, Tracey & Munro, Murray. (2009). Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication. Language Teaching. 42. 476 - 490. 10.1017/S026144480800551X.
Derwing and Munro (2009) do a wonderful job discussing accents and their current standing in English language learning. There are a ton of nuggets of information worth finding in the article, but the main aspect that I think is important to clarify is that accent is not the only consideration in communicative success.
ACCENTEDNESS - How different a pattern of speech sounds is when compared to the local variety.
COMPREHENSIBILITY - How easy or difficult it is to understand a given speech sample according to the listener
INTELLIGIBILITY - The degree of a listener’s actual comprehension of an utterance.
The goal for improving one’s English pronunciation should be to improve the comprehensibility and intelligibility.
💬 Thoughtful Quote
“Don’t Just
Don’t just learn, experience.
Don’t just read, absorb.
Don’t just change, transform.
Don’t just relate, advocate.
Don’t just promise, prove.
Don’t just criticize, encourage.
Don’t just think, ponder.
Don’t just take, give.
Don’t just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don’t just hear, listen.
Don’t just talk, act.
Don’t just tell, show.
Don’t just exist, live.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
The quote is definitely longer than my usual choice, but it expresses a sentiment that I hold closely. Give life your 110%. Do more than the basics so you can fully take advantage of the life and experiences you have.
So many times in life, I catch myself in autopilot. When I drive, sometimes before I realize it, I am parking at my destination. It truly is a necessary skill to proactively and attentively be in the moment. I am 100% convinced that improved awareness of your own sounds, delivery, voice and pronunciation are dependent on being present in the moment and in your words.
📖 Vocabulary Word
Okay Boomer - As an emerging internet meme statement, the phrase is used to dismiss or mock attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation.
It is important to be aware that some people take offense to this phrase identifying it as ageist. Others find it as an appropriate response for perceived resistance to technological change, climate change denial, marginalization of minorities or opposition to younger generations’ ideals.
I neither encourage nor condemn the use of the word, but I think it is important to recognize its meaning and existence in the world as it pertains to the current sociopolitical climate.
💎 Tech Finds
Subtitles are your best friend. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus – they all have subtitle options. If English isn’t your first language, use English audio AND English subtitles so that you can support your hearing and reading abilities. Sometimes, the words you hear may not sound like the words you read. Make note of those cases. There are TONS of words that do not sound like they’re spelled.
Yacht, Vegetable, Depot, Vehicle
The more you can actively notice these variations between pronunciation and spelling, the better you will be at catching yourself.

❌ Message Mishap
Now, I keep saying that message mishaps can occur without you necessarily using the wrong pronunciation. A few weeks ago, I spoke to a British man in the hospital and we were connecting over the miscommunications and differences in pronunciation between North American English and British English.
He told me about one of the first purchases he made in Canada. He stopped by a drug store to buy an eraser. Or, as he called it…a rubber.
Now, if you are a North American English communicator, you would know that a rubber is slang for a condom. Not exactly what he was looking for. Needless to say, the drug store employee reportedly became embarrassed before the whole miscommunication became apparent. The British man had a good laugh about the mishap and clearly knows the cultural nuances and differences now.
Some may think that the point of this story is to avoid these misunderstandings. I don’t think so. You will 100% have miscommunications in your life. Those are unavoidable. The thing that I loved and wanted to share was the following:
That story has stayed with this man for over 20 years. He’s laughed about it. He’s grown because of it. The miscommunication wasn’t an experience that he shudders at or hides from the world. It is a part of him and his image to the world.
Your miscommunications will happen. But if you take those as learning opportunities about English pronunciation or even English-speaking cultures, then you are bound to grow and learn.
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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