Get your tongue around language

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
When I came to the UK from Poland, the children in my classes had difficulty understanding me as my accent was quite heavy
When I came to the UK from Poland, the children in my classes had difficulty understanding me as my accent was quite heavy.

This course is designed to help you speak more clearly, and involves quite a lot of technical work. We were taught exercises to sharpen our vowels and consonants. The emphasis is on getting your tongue positioned correctly in the mouth when you make certain sounds. You have to be precise and it takes practice. But it really does work.

Phil Bliss, who led the course, was engaging - as you'd expect from someone who teaches communication skills - and he spent time considering our individual needs.

Most of the people on the course were from overseas, and we all had particular difficulties. I struggle with the "th" sound, which doesn't exist in Polish. The exercises are a great help, but you have to do them every day if you want to notice a difference. The key is to see them as fun, and perhaps do them in the shower, or when you're walking to work.

But it wasn't just about accent. We also learnt about looking after our voices, and how to make sure we're heard and understood in a busy classroom. Clear pronunciation is more important than volume if you want everyone's attention.

The course is great for overseas teachers, but I think many native English speakers could also benefit from improving their articulation and communication skills

Krystyna Rokosz is a classroom assistant at St Andrew's Primary School in Rochester, Kent. She was talking to Steven Hastings.


Clear Spoken English is run by Etch Training and the next course takes place in London on July 4. Cost pound;185+VAT

www.etchtraining.comcourses.aspx (click on The Teacher's Voice)

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