Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Just Call Me Henry Higgins

I love this program!

After just 10 minutes of practice, I got an adult Japanese man to say his middle L's. How did I preform this amazing feat of linguistic acrobatics, you ask?! (interrobang) I use the American Accent program by Ann Cook. (Genuine, unsolicited testimonial.)

First she recommends you go through then T/D sound, then N, then modify the two positions to produce the L. (The tip of the tongue stays at the roof of the mouth, the back drops and air comes around the sides.) You force the student to hold the tip of his tongue to the back of his teeth by holding something small like a coin (we used a crumpled foil candy wrapper)to the roof of his mouth while he read a wacky paragraph with a gazillion L sounds in it.

He was repeating fine, then he read the paragraph alone, with just a few substutions of R for L, which I poked him in the arm for. Yep, I'm a very tactile teacher, but I never hit. He was also very excited and happy at his success, though his mouth hurt from having to use his tongue in such a totally different way. Anyway, I'm pretty jazzed about this. As his reward, he got to eat the chocolate that came from the wrapper.

And again... I love this progam! It's so much faster and easier than trying to figure corrective pronunciations out by myself. I once spent about 3 weeks getting a Korean man to say his Z's.

Want to experience this crazy exercise for yourself? Here it is. Hold a clean coin to the forward roof of your mouth using only the tip of your tongue while reading this paragraph with as much definition as possible.

"Little Lola felt left out in life. She told herself that luck controlled her and she truly believed that only by loyally following an exalted leader could she be delivered from her solitude. Unfortunately, she learned a little late that her life was her own to deal with. When she realized it, she was already eligible for Social Security and she had lent her lifelong earnings to a lowlife in Long Beach. She lay on her linoleum and slid along the floor in anguish. A little later, she leapt up and laughed. She no longer longed for a leader to tell her how to live her life. Little Lola was finally all well." AAT:page 83

Wise words to live by. Don't long for exalted leaders or loan your lifelong earnings to lowlifes in Long Beach. To paraphrase Ann Cook in the paragraph she has students repeat, disect and work thorough after every new concept, "... the only way to get it is to practice all the time... but the important thing is to listen well and sound good."

Carol San


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