Friday, March 05, 2010

Practise your Listening and Pronunciation

Hello everyone. As promised, here is an idea to help you practise pronunciation. I have mentioned this in class already.

Preparation

Ensure that you have a set of headphones with a microphone incorporated.
Ensure, too, that your computer is set up for you to record sound through your microphone.

The site

On Internet, go to the BBC's "Learning English" site and select "Words In The News".

Read and Listen

Choose an episode of "Words In The News". Here's an entertaining one: "Pensioners accused of kidnapping".
Look at the text, and listen to the newsreader reading it.

Record yourself

When the newsreader has finished, run the "Sound Recorder" program on your computer. How? On a PC, "Sound Recorder" or "Registrare Suono" is usually to be found under "All Progams"/ "Accessories"/ "Entertainment".
Click the red "Record" button and read the text yourself. Make sure you save the sound file you have created.

Listen

Listen to the official newsreader again.
Now listen to yourself - you should be able to open your saved sound file using Windows Media Player or Real Player. Or i-Tunes if you have it.
Can you hear any differences between yourself and the official newsreader? Make a note of them. Concentrate on pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation.

Record again

Now activate "Sound Recorder" again and read the text aloud. Save the file.

Listen again

Finally, listen to your second recording. Was it closer to the 'official' version than your first recording? If you have saved both versions, you can listen to both of them again. Have you eliminated any of your mistakes?

Share your experience

You can send me your sound file as an attachment if you like. But please convert the file into MP3 format first. "Sound Recorder" produces WAV files which are rather big. There are various free sound format conversion programs available on the Internet.

Conclusion

I recommend following this procedure at least once a week. It need not take long. A 250-word article such as "Pensioners accused of kidnapping" should take you about two minutes to read aloud. Add the time it takes to listen to the official newsreader twice (a total of three minutes), and a further two minutes for your second recording, and we get a total time of seven minutes. Add a further five minutes for repeat listenings and checking, and the time taken rises to twelve minutes. Say fifteen minutes in all to be realistic. Surely you can spare fifteen minutes a week?

And there's an added bonus: each "Words In The News" episode has a glossary of new words that you may not know, with explanations. So this is a great way to add to your vocabulary.

Tell everyone about it

As always, please do leave a message describing your speech practice experience. Leave it on the Tag Board, or, for a longer message, use the Comment facility just below this post.

More soon! If I have time today, I'll add another "Six Minute English" exercise; if not, it will be early next week.

Ciao4now!
- Mike

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