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Interview at a Callan School


Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #91
How many years have you been a teacher, Harry? You certainly talk a good game.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
19 Mar 2009 /  #92
Teaching should never be based on accent, if a student only has lessons with one standard accent, then they will never be able to understand anything anyone says in any English speaking country.

But most students will not live or work in an English speaking country so why should they be forcibly acquianted with obscure English accents? Indeed, considering that a lot of English natives have trouble understanding some of the more obscure accents I don't see how the student can be trained up without simply living in the that particular discourse community.

FC(E?) isn't a very high level by the way.

teaching English is not the same as teaching linguistic skills

Hmm. Could you elaborate on that a bit?
Harry  
19 Mar 2009 /  #93
I'm sorry Harry, there are many strong accents in Britain. Well-defined and hard to follow. Should we just impose an outright ban on reality?

The question is more whether we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Teaching students to have strong accents is simply not a good idea: they want to be understood when they speak!

if a student only has lessons with one standard accent, then they will never be able to understand anything anyone says in any English speaking country. If a student is only taught by a teacher with a BBC accent, then that student is doomed when it comes to trying to understand English.

Not if they did a little work outside the classroom and the teachers were careful with their choice of listening exercises. Back in the day when it was on cable TV, I used to video Eastenders to use in class.

Point and fact is, i hired alot of Polish care workers who had passed their FC exams, but within one week wanted to go home cos they never understood a word that was being said to them.

When my ex first came to visit my parents she had just passed CPE with a grade A. She didn't understand a single word at the breakfast table. It wasn't the accent: it was the speed of the conversation (we don't waste time in my family).

How many years have you been a teacher, Harry? You certainly talk a good game.

I don't really teach anymore, got out of the game a couple of years ago. Still do a couple of hours a week just to keep my eye in (in case of an emergency return to the trade). But before that I did teach full-time for 12 years, all in Poland.

Indeed, considering that a lot of English natives have trouble understanding some of the more obscure accents I don't see how the student can be trained up without simply living in the that particular discourse community.

No native speaker has ever had trouble understanding my accent (although it does put a few backs up). But I have on occasion needed to interpret between other native speakers, e.g. a Geordie and a BC bud-head, a Scouser and a Saffa, a Welshman from the valleys and a Kiwi from the Mainland (surprising that those two couldn't understand each other, given how much they have in common).
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #94
You are completely missing the point Harry, we don't teach accents, don't you get that? Your ideas are so out of touch. If sb wants to copy my accent, that's their business but I don't set out to do that. It's not about making them more like you, it's about them learning English, pronouncing it correctly whilst retaining their accent which makes them who they are.

Part of the problem? It's reality, Harry. There's no getting round that. You can't mollycoddle students. Besides, Polish people are scattered throughout the UK. They will be subjected to hard accents whether they like it or not. My fiancee was listening to a guy from Belfast and she couldn't make head nor tail of what he was saying.

Simply put, exposure is vital. Otherwise, you encourage insularity and don't paint the full picture. Having travelled, I've heard the weird and the wonderful. Accents from OZ, Canada, the US, Britain etc etc. They all have their place.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
19 Mar 2009 /  #95
we don't teach accents, don't you get that?

Yes you do. It's called pronunciation
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #96
We teach pronunciation, yes. Accents, no. They pronounce it correctly but with a Polish accent.

For example, I could pronounce leisure as LEŻYR (BrE) (Polish phonetics, sorry) or LIŻYR (AmE). The pronunciation would change but the accent would remain the same. I'd say both with a Scottish accent.

Geez Vaff, I thought you were brighter than that.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
19 Mar 2009 /  #97
Geez Vaff, I thought you were brighter than that

I am mate

Youve just dug yourself into a hole
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #98
Not at all. Can't you see, I can pronounce a word in the American way but with a Scottish accent?

For example, OregAno in BrE and OrEgano in AmE. I'd still have a Scottish accent/voice but the pron would change.

It is you who have missed that simple difference, Vaff. Nice try tho!
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
19 Mar 2009 /  #99
I stand with Harry on this S
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #100
Then you have missed the most elementary of points, Vaff. I am shaking my head in disbelief, you are usually on the ball.

OK, what else? If an American asks me to pronounce what he has just said, do you really think I will use an American accent? Or will I just pronounce it his way but with my own accent?

You are 13 days too early, Vaff. It's not too late to see your mistake.
Harry  
19 Mar 2009 /  #101
OrEgano in AmE. I'd still have a Scottish accent/voice but the pron would change.

So you mean that you would mispronounce the word. Or at least you would by the commonly applied rules of your accent. OrEgano is very simply not how a Scot would pronounce the word.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #102
This is just too funny. I am saying if he copied the American, he'd say orEgano but with his own Scottish accent. I'm not gonna put on a Texan accent just to say orEgano.

This is hilarious, really! 12 years in the game and you come up with this drivel.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
19 Mar 2009 /  #103
Then you have missed the most elementary of points

Well thats one way of looking at it Seanus

Another would be to say that you are still a relatively inexperienced teacher who hasn't benefited from professional development in the way some have. Some might also say that you have a regional accent that you are proud of and are simply arguing your corner

I see your point. I think you are wrong

Beer break - back later
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #104
I don't have a regional accent that much, it's very faint actually. It's recognisably Scottish but very mild.

I've trained other teachers, I know what I am doing. You are confusing my individual accent with the accent on the words, i.e the stress. I might pronounce some words the American way when I'm with Americans. It doesn't mean my own personal accent isn't Scottish. It doesn't suddenly become a Bronx accent you know.

Are you guys playing, because this is rudimentary stuff?
Shawn_H  
19 Mar 2009 /  #105
Accents from OZ, Canada

Canadians don't have accents.

:-)
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #106
No, of course not ;)
miranda  
19 Mar 2009 /  #107
Some might also say that you have a regional accent that you are proud of and are simply arguing your corner

that is my impression.

You are confusing my individual accent with the accent on the words, i.e the stress.

so if you know what you are doing why don't you make a distinction between the accent and the stress - big difference there and I am surprised that you missed it. lol

accent is more complex that the word stress.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #108
I did, look above Miranda. Unedited, I left it as I wrote it. Post 105
Harry  
19 Mar 2009 /  #109
Another would be to say that you are still a relatively inexperienced teacher who hasn't benefited from professional development in the way some have. Some might also say that you have a regional accent that you are proud of and are simply arguing your corner

You might very well think that. And you'd probably be right too. Although I would personally say that Seanus most probably speaks a dialect of English (rather than with a Scottish accent) as his speach pattern is most probably varied from standard English by more than mere phonology.

I'm wanting a drink myself, ken?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #110
I don't use my dialect at all. I can just see that I don't put on a Philly accent when I pronounce a word in the American way.

Let me reiterate, when I talk about accent I mean my voice as being Scottish. Not the stress on the syllable which is clearly different.
miranda  
19 Mar 2009 /  #111
Canadians don't have accents.

we do, but it an easy to understand accent, unlike some other accents from around the world.

I agree that it is about exposure though.

Let me reiterate, when I talk about accent I mean my voice as being Scottish. Not the stress on the syllable which is clearly different.

that is correct, since an accent is more complex feature of the language and the stress is not, but it could be part of the accent.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #112
I think the point I was making was clear enough. We all know the accent (stress) differences between AmE and BrE. If they think I say American words with a Cali accent, they are sadly mistaken. Or even a Phoenix accent whatever that sounds like.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
19 Mar 2009 /  #113
accent (stress)

I think we must differentiate between accent and stress

35 degrees outside... beer was ice cold...
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Mar 2009 /  #114
That's what should have been blatantly clear. I was clearly making that point as I had already accented the words. It was clear that I meant my voice.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
20 Mar 2009 /  #115
should have been blatantly clear

was clearly making that point

It was clear

Actually none of this was clear at all Seanus.

It appears from what you have written that you equate accent with stress, which is both confusing and wrong
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
20 Mar 2009 /  #116
What BS!! Never in my right mind would I have written that. It is clear that I know the difference in stress, I even showed it as orEgano and oregAno. My point was clearly one of voice.

Read between the lines Vaff.

Look at posts 95 and 97

'Pron differently whilst retaining their accent' I wrote. How can the pron and the accent (stress) be different? Just think about it lad. I would have written retaining THE accent
dtaylor 9 | 823  
20 Mar 2009 /  #117
It appears from what you have written that you equate accent with stress, which is both confusing and wrong

I think that is BS, there is a big difference between accent and stress. You know that more than most others, but dont declare yourself intelligent just because of that fact, which it seems like your doing now.

Another would be to say that you are still a relatively inexperienced teacher who hasn't benefited from professional development in the way some have. Some might also say that you have a regional accent that you are proud of and are simply arguing your corner

Sorry, which accent do you speak with? The queens accent? cos if so, you arent worth your salt as any pro polish teacher will speak it better. From what you are saying, You mean to neglect the whole need for a native speaker. For what reason are native speakers used? If not to teach, then why?
Trevek 26 | 1,702  
20 Mar 2009 /  #118
Let me reiterate, when I talk about accent I mean my voice as being Scottish. Not the stress on the syllable which is clearly different.

Interestingly, I have heard that the best example of spoken standard English actually comes from the East Coast of Scotland.

The point is that a teacher shouldbe aware of the peculiarities of their own accent and be able to point it out to a student. As a midlander I have to warn them that I may have a tendency to flatten my vowels, whereas the American teacher may pronounce them differently. It can be fun when my studes have US accents or, curiously, French accents and I have to corrct the pronuciation. It is by using phonetics that I can stress pronuciation.

Obviously, if the accent is strong a teacher may need to moderate it. Studes will use any excuse not to understand. I had one Intermediate group who moaned that they couldn't understand me and I used too complicated words. Funny thing was I'd taught pre-int and int the previous year with great success, so the use of words argument was utter BS. The fact was they missed their previous teacher. To suggest they didn't understand my accent (not something I hear alot) was also bs as me and their previous teacher are from the same area.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
20 Mar 2009 /  #119
Exactly Trevek, it is about awareness. I often inform them of the varied nature of vowel pronunciation in Scotland. Also, I've noticed that my 'ing' is weak. I really have to push hard to accentuate it (yes, Harry and Vaff, this means stress, I'm still Scottish at this moment ;)).

We see that the English tend to favour their accents as somehow better. Some Edinburgh accents are ideal for teaching. The West Coast ones and Inverness are not bad too, quite soft.
ukpolska  
20 Mar 2009 /  #120
Dear oh dear, hark at you girls...
It's quite simply really, if the director of the school feels that your accent is too broad he will simple not employ you, after all it all comes down to profit no mater what personal justification you protest.

Over the time I have been here I have even known director's not employ Australians before because their accent is too broad.
Money is money, and in the cold light of day, if you students don't understand a teacher they will start voting with their feet and that's the last thing a school wants.

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