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Fixing mechanical speech

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Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:00 pm    Post subject: Fixing mechanical speech Reply with quote

I am teaching sophomores in a university in China. They have studied English since they were in grade 7 but had little to no help with oral English. Their English sounds very mechanical, almost to the point that it is hard for me to understand them. Some of the students are stressing the wrong syllables almost 100% of the time and using no inflection at all in their speech. I have never encountered this situation before. Can you help me develop a plan of attack, as well as some specific methods to help?
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My four year old friend is whiny and spoiled so whenever she says something that sounds like it is a complaint or sounds rude or sounds demanding, I just say it back word for word but with a more positive inflection. "My seatbelt is stuck." she yells and cries at the same time. So I say back in nice calm tones and with a happy lilt, "My seat belt is stuck. Can someone help me?" After a day of this, she was much more positive and the adults around her actually began to like her rather than dreading her every word.

Perhaps this would work for your students. Constantly repeat exactly what they said with the right inflection and then answer as if they had said it that way so there is no awkward pause and an implied condemnation of their speech. You could even say, "Do you mean to say ....." and if they nod or say, "Yes," then you answer or comment.

Lots of tapes for them to hear normal speech in various accents.

Playing parts of a movie with the subtitles in English on and then playing it again with subtitles on but the sound off so they take roles and imitate the actors.

I have always found that it is best to give women, women's voices to imitate and men, men's voices.
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