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04

30

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QW 042912 “Operation Vowels 2012”

As I wrote in QW 042812, my first target for “Pronunciation Practice 2012 Spring” is on 15 vowels of American English. I didn’t soon agree that my biggest problem in terms of pronunciation and L1 influenced-accent is vowels, but I decided to follow the tutor’s advice. Here’s what I did so far today:

1) Print out the article that the tutor did the model speech for me.
2) Listen to the recorded model speech over and over to get the “feel” of the whole speech.
3) Overlap the recorded model speech in an attempt to copy tempo, rhythm, and intonation (=target to-be in my plan).
4) Check the parts I think I didn’t do well.
5) Overlap the recorded model speech many times with the points in 4) in mind.
6) Look up all the vowels sounds in the speech in dictionaries, even the very basic ones like “are”.
7) Keep listening to the model and copying it with the script (=the printed article).

I’m not sure if it’s the best way to do it, but I’ll keep doing this way for a couple of days. During the next lesson with my pronunciation tutor, I’ll demonstrate my own speech and ask him to give me feedback. Let’s see how it goes.

(30 minutes / 211 words)

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The article is about the Photoshop Law enacted in Israel.

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04

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QW 042812 “Definitely Vowels”

"Definitely vowels” said the tutor when asked to cite the areas that I’d need to work on to improve my pronunciation of English. My initial reaction was: Again? It sounds very common advice often heard from native English teachers. I needed personalized advice, not the ones in general!

My desire to improve my pronunciation keeps recurring from to time, and now is the time. Recently I’ve obtained a software to record conversations on Skype, which enables me to listen to the actual speech of tutors and me. The way I spoke during interactions always fails to meet my expectation and makes me completely disappointed. Such disappointment also makes me ashamed how I over-evaluate my speech in English in every aspect. I asked, then, a tutor who I consider is one of the most qualified teachers for me to learn pronunciation from to read an assigned discussion article aloud for me as a model speech in order for me to listen over and over, imitate, and learn from. When I explained my target and wishes in detail, he said to me: There are 15 vowels in English whereas there are only 5 in Japanese, which makes it complicated for Japanese learners to pronounce English properly. You have no problems consonants and intonation. In fact, even non-advanced students can pronounce consonants as they’re supposed to sound. Through my observation, you need to polish the way you pronounce vowels.

I think I know the mark of hopeless students: Learners who wouldn't even try considering what their teachers said that seems irrelevant to them at the first glance. Honestly, I’ve diagnosed my problems in terms of pronunciation in different ways than the tutor told me. I said so during the lesson, but some time later, I reconsidered and decided to follow his advice: The area that I need to tackle first is vowels. I’ll focus on how to pronounce vowels properly until I see some improvement. In order to do so, I’ll need to identify my target, the way I want to make my vowels sound to begin with, and the gap between the target and my current pronunciation. Yes, my English learning life goes on.

(40 minutes / 362 words)

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04

27

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QW 042712 “From a British Pub, ARROW’S ”

I’m writing this piece at a British pub waiting for my friends to come. Three of them texted that they’d be an hour late, so I decided to do my daily writing practice at the bar over a glass of British beer before I get too toxicated to write a 300 word piece . They are the students that I taught a few years ago at an English conversational school for which I had been working for ten years. Since they taking my classes, we’d occasionally get together to catch up and talk about a lot of things, mainly English learning. I’m sitting in an arm chair, chatting with a guy who came almost on time, drinking Fuller’s ESB beer. Oh, here comes another guy. My second drink is a pint of Bass & Pale Ale. Oh, yeah, I’m getting tipsy. Two more people joined. Just now the last person has sent us an e-mail saying he’d be here in 40 minutes. We decided to send him the same e-mail saying “Daijyouubu-Dayoun!” He will end up receiving five identical e-mails.

(120 minutes / 180 words)

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04

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QW 042612 “Gonna Make You Smile”

During a Skype lesson the other day, a tutor told me that he was going to change his profile photo just a bit. I didn’t pay much attention to his words because; 1) my focus had already been on a daily article that we were going to discuss later. 2) I didn’t know what he was talking about. He, after a few seconds, asked me if I had seen the picture yet. In fact I didn’t want to bother to click on the photo with my attention being devoted to the article, but I did just as he told me to. Which monumentally cracked me up. I’d rather avoid mentioning details for the sake of his dignity, but I just can say it was a personal photo with delicate sense of humor. While sharing unstoppable laughs on both ends of the line, he said, “I was gonna make you smile.” Can’t it be a killer line for ladies depending on who says to who when?

I cannot help loving people who’re always willing to demonstrate hospitality to make someone feel easy and cozy with their superb sense of humor. I’m always ashamed of myself for lacking such talent. Smart people can make someone smile. Smart people observe someone and find a sweet spot to make him or her laugh. Smart people can see things from the other side and see themselves from others’ eyes to hit upon what could be funny. I’ll just be a loyal adorer of those geniuses. But I still don’t understand how he knew I’d think that photo as funny.

(40 minutes / 264 words)

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Note: This isn't it.
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04

25

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QW 042512 “Wet Floor on Train”

It was when I was taking a train this morning. Soon after I had got on the train, I noticed that a relatively large part of the floor was wet. It was just like someone spilt over soft drink or something. I thought it as nothing smelly or disgusting, so I didn’t bother to move to a different car. At every station the train stopped, however, most of the passengers who were about to get on the train advertently noticed the wet floor and went to a different car. Watching the people quickly move away from the door by which I was standing, I felt as if I were something smell or disgusting!

When the train stopped at another station, two station clerks with a broom and a dustpan came from nowhere. One guy scattered wood shavings over the wet floor and wiped them carefully, and the other guy was just watching his senior get the job done properly. He seemed to be an apprentice to my eyes. Not only did I feel grateful that those station clerks swiftly cleaned the floor, but also I was impressed by the quality service that a Japanese railroad company provides. The guy who swept the floor never seemed to be good at the cleaning business due to his clumsiness of handling the broom (sorry for being too honest!), but it made me want to pay my respect to him all the more, knowing he was just trying to do his job whatever it was.

What if it happens in another country? Will station clerks soon come to the site and clean the floor in a minute? Or will the wet floor be left unattended all day while passengers pay zero attention to it? While I won’t hesitate to appreciate all the excellent service available in our country, I feel a bit awkward or even overwhelmed by such super-attentiveness that I observed this morning. Well, am I just spinning or being perverse?

(40 minutes / 328 words)

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Aya

Author:Aya
English learner

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