how to help a kid speak better English?

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how to help a kid speak better English?

Postby karenmok » Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:37 pm

My kids speak English with a heavy Malaysian accent. Not there fault as both their parents are from Malaysia and both of us not very good in English.
I want my kids to speak very clearly, much like the Ang Mohs do. I think this is important to progress in life.
Are there teachers/schools, etc, that help a kid speak with an Aussie or Brit or American accent?
Much kiasu,
Karen

karenmok
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Re: how to help a kid speak better English?

Postby TheWriter » Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:15 pm

I must respectfully disagree with the focus on developing accents rather than on proper pronunciation/enunciation. Efforts toward the latter two needs to be conscious, i.e. read widely, and listen closely to how sentences are pronounced, parsed, enunciated and where the stresses fall.

Compare them to colloquialisms and local accents and see the differences between both. Singlish, for instance, tend to place emphasis on every syllable while dropping hard consonants like "t":

Communication is very important.

In Singlish: KOR-MEW-NEE-KAY-SHEN IS VEH-REE IM-PORE-TEN)

Whereas properly enunciated, it would be more of "ker-MUN-ni-ca-tion is VEH-ry im-POR-tan-t".

From a primary school oral perspective, a good place to begin would be on the syllable stress, and common enunciation mistakes such as words ending in "d"/"t", words with "-th" and plural form of words ending in hard consonants "-ts".

All the best for your children's English, and Happy Holidays!

Addendum: I've used Singlish as an example as I do not normally encounter Malaysian accents with my students and can't comment specifically on the nuances of it. My apologies!

TheWriter
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Re: how to help a kid speak better English?

Postby slmkhoo » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:34 am

TheWriter wrote:I must respectfully disagree with the focus on developing accents rather than on proper pronunciation/enunciation. Efforts toward the latter two needs to be conscious, i.e. read widely, and listen closely to how sentences are pronounced, parsed, enunciated and where the stresses fall.

I agree with not trying to develop a foreign accent which often sound fake and put on unless they were learned naturally. Pronunciation and enunciation are best improved by having continual exposure to good role models. A class will not really help much unless the child is able to self-monitor and self-correct the rest of the time, which is rare for those under about 10yo. Alternatively, the parents can learn alongside the child and make it a family exercise to pronounce words correctly. Good dictionaries will show how words should be pronounced and indicate the stresses too. But decide whether you want to use British or US pronunciation and get an appropriate dictionary and stick with it or it will sound all mixed up. Listening to good examples will also help a lot - audio books, good TV programmes and films (a lot are NOT good!), good radio programmes etc.

slmkhoo
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Re: how to help a kid speak better English?

Postby Imami » Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:11 am

karenmok wrote:My kids speak English with a heavy Malaysian accent. Not there fault as both their parents are from Malaysia and both of us not very good in English.
I want my kids to speak very clearly, much like the Ang Mohs do. I think this is important to progress in life.
Are there teachers/schools, etc, that help a kid speak with an Aussie or Brit or American accent?
Much kiasu,
Karen

My suggestion would be to watch the news or listen to the radio. I think it helps a lot. These days news also come with subtitles so the kid's can watch and listen at the same time. Mine does that. Most of the time he doesn't get the point but still, it helps in his English.

Imami
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Re: how to help a kid speak better English?

Postby celebratelife » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:50 am

Hi karenmok,

You have given a very interesting viewpoint on the essence of the language accent.

With all due respect, I won't equate accent mastery to success but to a certain degree, it does change one's perception of a person in certain situations or circumstances, such as a language school making a hiring choice between two English teachers - a native speaker and a non-native speakers.

However, when it comes to the workplace, communication skills (which goes beyond an accent to include EQ, collaborative skills, presentation prowess, an ability to relate to people and teams of diverse backgrounds and personalities etc) are a more important determinant of success, alongside the fact of working with a capable and empathetic boss who has a knack for grooming potentials.

Not to digress too much, English mastery - be it pronunciation, persentation, writing or reading - doesn't rest much on accent mastery but on syntax familiarity.

Much as there are many seasoned native speakers, there are also an increasing number of great non-native English speakers, even in Asian countries. Granted, native speakers may be more fluent in the pronunciation and diction components of the English language. Nevertheless, non-native speakers are also able to master these over time.

Cheers!

Warmest Regards,
Patrick
http://www.patricktay.wordpress.com

celebratelife
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Re: how to help a kid speak better English?

Postby Popcorn » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:25 am

karenmok wrote:My kids speak English with a heavy Malaysian accent. Not there fault as both their parents are from Malaysia and both of us not very good in English.
I want my kids to speak very clearly, much like the Ang Mohs do. I think this is important to progress in life.
Are there teachers/schools, etc, that help a kid speak with an Aussie or Brit or American accent?
Much kiasu,
Karen


Hi karen, I guess to pick up accent, you have to immerse the child in a native speaking environment. Listen and speak to the natives. This is the fastest way to sound like them. This works if one has no prior exposure to the language at all or when the child is young. For us, we will never sound like the Ang Mo no matter what cos our accents are fixed already (for English)..

For a child to speak with aussie/american/British accent while studying in singapore (local system) maybe pretty difficult. There are some enrichment centres like British councils, morris Allen where their teachers are natives.... I think attending once a week lesson won't help in picking up accents though. You may try to contact these centres to see if they can help to correct accents.

Alternatively, you can consider putting your children in international schools. For sure, they will sound like the Brits/Americans and no singlish. It is costly though.

Popcorn
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