What it is about
This book offers an entirely fresh approach on how to improve the clarity and quality of English pronunciation. Written by a speech pathologist, rather than a language specialist, it provides a quite different perspective to any other book on the market. It is therefore genuinely new and different.
The book outlines a total training model based on principles and techniques developed independently by the author over many years. The approach is holistic and multi-sensory in nature. It recognises that changing a sound pattern, or accent, involves not only analytical mental processes but also more primitive, intuitive parts of the brain. The learning of new sound patterns is greatly enhanced if these ‘other’ areas in the brain are tapped.
The training approach is called the ClearSpeak Method and is based on the ClearSpeak Model of Pronunciation Change©. The book covers all stages of the training process from the assessment of sounds that require change, to the drawing up of a training plan, to a series of 33 Sound Guides for training each sound (a total of 644 pages with over 240 illustrations). Around 100 detailed techniques are provided. Background information on phonetics and speech melody has been deliberately simplified for non-expert readers. However, even those working in the pronunciation field may appreciate this no-frills explanation of these potentially complex subjects.
Each Sound Guide includes TROUBLE SHOOTER tips on how to change the speaker from typical error postures to the correct posture. You simply identify the nature of the error and follow the corrective instructions. There are shaded boxes called TECHNICAL TALK spread throughout the text, aimed mainly at trainers. These give further insights into the topic being discussed and can be ignored by readers if they wish. The book also gives comments on hot chestnuts like ‘Am I too old to change accent?’ and ‘Should I focus on speech melody or on changing individual sounds?’, ‘Which sounds do I change if I want to improve clarity but not change accent?’. Arguments are provided and opinions offered.
All training techniques are aimed at producing British Standard Neutral English which, as the name implies, does not represent any particular, identifiable accent. It is the variety most speakers would regard as ‘good English’ anywhere in the world. Self-help students will find it the most neutral model against which to train. However, trainers working within a native English speaking country will have no difficulty in adjusting the techniques to suit local accent. Guidance is provided on major English varieties for this purpose (‘Queen’s English’, General American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African English).
The book contains a three-hour audio DVD. This is designed on a ‘listen and repeat’ basis. It allows the student to compare their sound production with that of the coach across words, phrases and sentences. There is a separate set of exercises for each of the 33 Sound Guides. The voice coach is Alison Kimble-Fry and the variety of English used is Standard Neutral English. The DVD plays on a standard DVD player or a computer with suitable DVD player software.
Here is a sample of a vowel sound you will find in Guide 33 on the DVD. It is for the diphthong /OƱ/ (low).
A QuickStart Workbook comes as a companion text to the book. This 16 page workbook is designed for use by self-help students. It guides them through the essential steps they must take in their training program. The reading references direct them to what they need to know. It means they can easily bypass background information about the ClearSpeak Method and techniques if they wish. This makes training with the book very user friendly.
Who it is for
The book is written in simple language and deliberately avoids the use of technical terms and jargon. Descriptions are kept simple to provide essential information and there is no unnecessary detail. The layout is clear with many headings, illustrations and short paragraphs. Techniques have been given catchy names so they can be remembered easily e.g. Divide-and-conquer, Say-it-again-Sam, Smile-awhile.
The book’s easy-to-use writing style makes it accessible to a wide audience but this in no way reduces the value of its innovative techniques for even the most experienced teachers and trainers. Those who will benefit are:
- Any person who wishes to improve their own English pronunciation, in particular those who speak English as their second language (ESL). The audio DVD and QuickStart Workbook are aimed at these self-help students.
- ESL language and pronunciation teachers as well as teachers of the severely hearing impaired.
- Speech trainers, drama specialists and speech pathologists aiming to bring about high-levelaccent/pronunciation change.
The book will be invaluable for student teachers, speech pathologists and trainers as it provides comprehensive coverage of the entire training process.
Trainers can enhance their face to face training by giving each student a copy of both the book and Workbook. This provides an extra source of reference for students between sessions.
The book is 644 pages in length and is printed in black print on high quality paper. It is produced in plastic coated soft cover and is of larger than average size. The book dimensions are 196mm by 267mm by 38mm. The book contains over 240 line illustrations.
The book includes a three hour DVD of audio exercises (not available for separate sale). It also comes with a 16 page QuickStart Workbook. This guides self-help students through the essential training steps.
Published in 2012 by ClearSpeak Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia.
The ISBN is 978 0 9577970 1 7
There are 21 Chapters arranged in nine Parts.
PART ONE: THE ISSUES
CHAPTER 1: Exploring the boundaries
What the word pronunciation means and why the word ‘accent’ is a dirty word. Considers whether all varieties of English are equal and the issues involved in deciding to change one’s sound system.
CHAPTER 2: All about end results
What to expect from pronunciation training and when to start (simultaneous with or following basic language training). A brief discussion of issues that will influence the final training outcome.
CHAPTER 3: Choosing a sound system model
The criteria for selecting a training model and why Standard Neutral English has been chosen.
PART TWO: SOUNDS IN MOTION
CHAPTER 4: Coming to grips with phonetics
A simple, non-technical outline of speech sounds and their properties. Introduces the IPA transcription ‘alphabet’ and explains key differences between vowels and consonants.
CHAPTER 5: Producing vowels
Describes features of English vowels and gives a simple explanation of single vowels, diphthongs and extended combinations (triphthongs). Covers the use of ‘intrusive’ vowels in speech.
CHAPTER 6: Producing consonants
Describes features of English consonants in simple terms and presents the basic types of consonant.
CHAPTER 7: Connected speech flow
Illustrates the difference between ‘ideal’ and ‘loose’ production of sounds once they are placed within a speech flow.
CHAPTER 8: Voice quality
A brief discussion of voice and how it is influenced by the speaker’s cultural background.
PART THREE: TRAINING APPROACH
CHAPTER 9: A practical look at goals and constraints
Helps you identify your training goals and select a training focus. Provides a set of definitions that describes pronunciation as a behavioural outcome i.e. what is to be achieved.
PART FOUR: THE MODEL
CHAPTER 10: The ClearSpeak Model of Pronunciation Change
Explains why an integrated, holistic and multi-sensory training approach is necessary. Outlines the six principlesof the ClearSpeak Model and how these are applied in the training method.
PART FIVE: ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING
CHAPTER 11: A look at overall needs
Provides a simple test for hearing loss and draws attention to issues to be considered before beginning assessment. It also gives suggestions on how to record speech samples.
CHAPTER 12: Designing an assessment tool
Offers some practical tips for trainers who wish to develop their own assessment materials. Suggests areas that should be covered in any assessment process.
CHAPTER 13: ClearSpeak Pronunciation Screening Test
This is a short self-score test that can be used by students to assess their own errors, or by a trainer on their behalf. This screening test was developed especially for the book and is not available elsewhere.
It leads to a simple summary analysis of test results that effectively doubles as a training plan.
CHAPTER 14: Setting up a training program
Discusses the basic equipment needed for training and how to firm up a training program for yourself or others. Provides trainers with information on what they can realistically tackle in group versus private tuition. Highlights the importance of ‘speech minders’, or those who assist the student to achieve carryover of learnt skills into everyday speech.
PART SIX: CREATING ENGLISH SOUNDS
CHAPTER 15: Learning techniques
Shows how to develop auditory discrimination skills. Provides eight basic speech training techniques (these underpin the specific techniques for training individual sounds that appear later in the Sound Guides). Explains the concept and application of holistic training techniques.
CHAPTER 16: Learning specific sounds
Moves into more specific detail about how to train individual sounds. One section is written as guidance for self-help students while the second focuses on a trainer’s perspective.
CHAPTER 17: Putting it all together
Describes a typical training session and how to practise new speech skills.
PART SEVEN: SOUND TRAINING GUIDES
Contains 33 Sound Guides in a common layout, one covering every English vowel and consonant (pair). The sound exercises presented on the DVD are found within the relevant Guide.
The content of each Guide in the book is as follows:
Lists the nature of the sound and the bare facts on how to produce the sound.
Provides multi-sensory guidance for producing the sound with many unique tips and techniques that go well beyond standard instructions. Conventional training books as a rule only provide simple instructions at the ‘bare facts’ level.
These are holistic images that reinforce the nature of the sound being learnt. They are a feature of the ClearSpeak Training Method and are described in full within the text:
- Sound name
- Holistic sound shape
- Mirror signal
Discusses problems that many speakers experience when producing the sound and provides special tips for these. It includes exercises contrasting sounds that are typically confused.
TRY IT ALL OUT
A series of sentences for practising the sound in all contexts.
A set of tips for specific production problems. Common errors are described and remedies given.
Additional technical information about certain points raised in the Guide. These short notes are aimed mainly at trainers and may be ignored by self-help students.
A key-word checklist of critical things to remember when producing the sound.
PART EIGHT: SPEECH MELODY
There is no intention to cover this subject in detail as the focus of the book is on sound production. This Part nevertheless provides a useful overview of this complex subject in non-technical language.
CHAPTER 18: Stress and rhythm
An outline of speech stress and rhythm, with a particular focus on English. Both word and sentence stress patterns are covered.
CHAPTER 19: Intonation
Provides a simple outline of the basic tone patterns in English.
PART NINE: CHANGING SPEECH MELODY
As with Speech Melody, this subject is not covered in detail but a number of basic techniques are provided.
CHAPTER 20: Tips for learning word stress
Outlines several training tips and offers exercises to improve the use of word stress.
CHAPTER 21: Tips for learning intonation
Provides training tips and exercises to improve the use of English intonation.
Five Appendices cover technical data on the IPA symbols and comparative data on major varieties of English i.e. ‘Queen’s English’, American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African English. Also, how to make recorded exercises for students’ home practice and marketing considerations for trainers. There are references, an outline of where to find further resources, and an Index of all 99 techniques.