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October 2, 2019

Hi friends! Every week, I generate a quick brief about 5 interests for the week relating to accent mo
October 2, 2019
By Kristopher Wan • Issue #26 • 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
Zulqarnain, A. B., & Abdul, M. E. (2018). Exploring undergraduates’ judgements on the qualities of corrective feedback for english pronunciation errors. Les Ulis: EDP Sciences. doi:
As a specialist in accent modification, it’s important to know how to best provide corrective feedback to English language learners regarding their pronunciation. If not delivered in a sensitive way, the feedback may not be well received and fall short in its effectiveness.
Corrective feedback types and examples include:
  • Explicit Correction - “…er not ‘visters’, it’s 'whiskers’…”
  • Visual Cues - instructor points to visual aids in pronunciation to visual representations of accurate sound production.
  • Clarification Request - “sorry, what do you mean by flower base?” (as opposed to 'vase’)
  • Verbal Metalinguistic Feedback - “should it be with a long or short vowel”
  • Elicitation - Instructor points to desired word for student to pronounce.
  • Repetition - Instructor repeats the incorrectly pronounced word to elicit learner’s correction.
Explicit correction, Verbal Metalinguistic Feedback and Elicitation scored high on concerns for “embarrassment”
Clear, constructive feedback is necessary to target and address mispronunciations effectively. Feedback that may score high on embarassment ratings may not always be appropriate when learner’s language skills are advanced and they are well-aware of their errors.
For me, trying to improve the way I help people will help me communicate my ideas better. I’m not immune to miscommunication and the better I can communicate what I hear and what I want a learner to do, the more successful they can be!
💬 Thoughtful Quote
“Miscommunication is the number one cause of all problems; communication is your bridge to other people. Without it, there’s nothing. So when it’s damaged, you have to solve all these problems it creates.” ~ Earl Sweatshirt
Now I know that Earl Sweatshirt is likely someone you haven’t heard about but there’s truth in the statement. Miscommunication can guide people down very different paths and ultimately, the extra effort you can put in to correct, avoid or learn from miscommunications will be worth the investment. Focusing your time and energy into analyzing your miscommunications can bring insight into your communication style, how to tailor your communication to improve comprehension and ensure clear understanding and expectation.
📖 Vocabulary Word
coalesce (v.) (used without object) - think [ko·uh·les]
To unite so as to form one mass, community, etc.: The various groups coalesced into a crowd.liable to change; easily altered.
When looking at the written word, it can be hard to figure out the pronunciation. My mind starts thinking COAL·eske but, having been exposed to this word before, I know it is a 3-syllable word.
A quick google search shows some technical SQL Coalesce function in SQL Server (whatever that means), but I know it from Overwatch (the video game) and chemistry.
💎 Tech Finds
I stumbled upon this website which provides subtitles and education regarding vocabulary used in video games by gamers. Because of the international context of gaming, any online multiplayer team game will need good communication - especially at the more competitive levels. Communication tends to be short, highly contextual and life-and-death.
The videos take snippets of streamers and break down their communication. I can’t say I’ve seen any game play footage from the makers of the website but it’s a neat concept to apply English language learning in the context of gaming.
❌ Message Mishap
Let’s paint the scene.
Justin: How are we going to collect the gifts?
Maaya: I will pick them up.
Justin: I thought Trudy could because you couldn’t go until tomrorow.
Maaya: Yes.
Justin: So Trudy’s going to pick them up.
Maaya: Trudy’s busy. I will go pick them up.
Justin: But you can’t go until tomorrow, right?
Maaya: Yes.
Maaya: I will go tomorrow.
Justin: [Laughing] But they have to be picked up today. We actually wanted them yesterday. [silence]
Justin: So Trudy better go today.
Maaya: Okay.
It can be confusing at times or even need explicit effort to figure out this issue. Justin and Trudy discuss the coordination of gift pick-up and the suggestion that Trudy assist to meet scheduling demands. Maaya knows that Trudy has been feeling unwell and attempts to show empathy by offering to pick up the gift tomorrow; however, Justin focuses on getting the job done in a timely fashion. Neither is correct but both ideals and priorities are expressed.
On top of that, there’s a difference in the structure of English and Japanese, particularly in the forms of “yes” and “no”. In English, to be grammatical, a “yes” answer has to occur in an affirmative sentence and a “no” answer in a negative sentence. In response to “But you can’t go until tomorrow, right?”, Maaya must respond either,“Yes, I can go today,” or “No, I can’t go until tomorrow”. In Japanese, “yes” endorses what is already being said [i.e. that Maaya can’t go until tomorrow], and a “no” answer contradicts it.

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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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