It’s been 5 years since I started on this journey of teaching the American English accent to foreign language speakers. Here’s what I’ve learned:
I am qualified. At first I was nervous if I knew enough to teach others to speak with an American accent. But I was willing, and quickly learned what I could about accent reduction. The surest way to learn something is to try and teach it to others! This is true. As soon as I could explain the rules and patterns of English, I became qualified.
Students need “pause” time. My initial nervousness caused me to fill up the spaces of quiet with words! This was bad for my students because they were using the spaces of quiet to
- translate what I said into their first language
- think of an answer, and
- translate their answer into English.
Read my earlier post on how valuable the quiet pause is for students learning another language.
Don’t expect to get through the whole lesson. It always seems to happen that students have questions, new topics come up and things need to be reviewed or repeated. Take your lesson plan in, but expect to only cover part of it. Be flexible about how much you can actually teach in a year.
Language students are the most appreciative. After 25 years teaching speech and language students, I find that adult ESL and Pronunciation students will be able to express how very much they appreciate your time and effort in the classroom. Sort of makes up for when the little ones are so unhappy to come to speech therapy, and the parents are miserable toward you!
I notice all the ways Americans butcher the English language. I can never again sit back and hear speakers of English say “prolly” for “probably”. “axe” for “ask” and “nucular’ for “nuclear”. Yes, I know language is a living thing, and words change all the time. I notice it all the time, but good manners prevent me from saying anything. I just keep moving.
My students are the best and I love them dearly!