Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why TESOL certification is a piece of shit!

Native speakers get TESOL certification from places like this, and think that they are read to teach English to non-native speakers.

 1. Being a native speaker is neither necessary nor sufficient to teach non-native speakers
 2. The next step is: get a TESOL certification. This is not sufficient as well.
 3. TESOL is worthless when it comes to help others learn American dialect.
 4. See a voice trainer (one who can teaches you to discriminate pitch and who knows how to produce all possible sounds, like those in William Smalley's Manual of Articulatory Phonetics.

 Some bland suggestions given by wannabe teachers:

 1. The first bland suggestion: listen carefully! This is a brute force method to acquire an accent, the worst way to go. Get trained on what to listen for before embarking on that 'careful' listening program. For instance, try to understand various English language-specific phenomena: for instance,
  Blaoism: Pronunciation phenomena

 2. The second bland suggestion: imitate! This suggestion is devoid of content. There are six things you should focus on before you go on that imitation exercise.

 Here are six things:
 Pitch characteristic -- gravelly, raspy, breathy, scraping, creaky, etc
Tempo -- faster/slower Rhythm: dadada-daah (clipping), military style
Placement: nasal, back
Mouth work: dialect

  Voice Matching and Imitating Voices |

 Here is the problem with those who give bland advice: either (a) they have not acquired any L2 with a native-like proficiency; or (b) they have not done any voice over work that involves voice matching or automated dialogue replacement.

 3. Find a guy, who is good at articulatory phonetics. Or one who can guide you all lessons in Manual of Articulatory Phonetics by William Smalley, a missionary.

 One day you can come up with your show like Family Guy, South Park, etc, or with a movie like Borat, if you master these skills.

Somewhere else I wrote wrt AmE:

Is it possible to acquire a native-like accent? Yes, if necessary strategies exist; otherwise, nope.

One should focus on the folllowing areas:

1. Phones and allophones of both vowels and consonants
2. reduced forms
3. stress patterns (Don't waste your time reading Chomsky's Sound pattern of English, not that much productive)
5. Rhythm--and this is linked with 2, 3 and 4. 
6. Melody (Pitch contours, pitch configuration, etc)--and how they are linked to discourse, syntax (functors vs contents), etc.
7. Non-verbal communication: gestures, paralanguage, etc (proxemics, etiquette, non-phonetic voice features, etc, watch Borat ). This is all

It is very hard to find a course or book that covers all of the above. It is also very hard to find a tutor that deals all of the above. (It is also very hard to find a student that is interested in these details; most of them want a quick fix) So, you need to do research on your own, and use tutors from different areas: a music teacher for pitch contours (in singing, you need to discriminate a semi tone apart--in speaking, you are good to go when you discriminate 2 to 3 semitones apart); etc.

All L2 research assumes that necessary learning/teaching strategies exist to acquire a native-like accent. Hence, they come up with all explanations as to why a native-like accent can't be acquired. This is a fallacy of petitio principii. 

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