English is a strange language, isn’t it?
It has about 45 sounds (a matter of some debate), but only 26 letters to spell them with. That’s an interesting problem – how do we choose the difference in pronunciation of LOSE and LOOSE for example*? Then there’s joining, some sounds join and change, some don’t, others disappear completely.
And how about intonation? Why do English speakers go downwards on a ↘question? That sounds like a statement, ↘doesn’t it? Then there’s the weak/strong structure and the rules of stress to deal with….
So how do you teach all that?
Our approach involves three key elements: practical method (PPP), focussed materials (The Sound of English), and talented, experienced teachers (IPA Certified, BA/MA Qualified, 5+years in the classroom).
PPP – a practical methodology.
When we talk about ‘practical’ what do we really mean? In language teaching terms, it can be summed up with three more Ps – Present | Practise | Perform.
The first stage to learning is to experience new knowledge – this is the Presentation stage, your teacher introduces new information with clear, engaging examples. Then you need to Practise using this new skill or knowledge – quite simply the more practice you do, the more you will improve – in class this involves drilling and correction. Finally it is time to take these skills into your everyday life, this is the Performance stage of learning, which takes the shape of exercises and activities designed to mimic real life speech. In class you probably won’t think about the three Ps (look out for them anyway…..), you’ll just be enjoying the experience and feeling the improvements as your confidence grows with each class and practice session.
Teaching by teachers.
We’ll talk about qualifications later, let’s start with the basics.
i) We are pronunciation teachers, we don’t do anything else. Our teachers have thousands of hours’ experience delivering these courses.
ii) We are linguists – our teachers have significant experience in using other 2nd languages (Spanish, Italian, Polish, Mandarin, Korean & French to name a few) – this means that your teacher understands how second language acquisition works, we’ve been there.
iii) Qualifications – your teacher is a combination of BA/MA qualified, CELTA/DELTA certified in teaching English, and IPA Certified in phonetics.
Where it began (or what advanced learners really need).
Pronunciation Studio began in 2008 – after many years teaching English to advanced learners in Europe and South America, Joseph Hudson saw that many of his students were crying out for training on the one area missing from all the course books – pronunciation. Advanced in every aspect of their skills except for pronunciation, there seemed to be no help available.
At that time, the only place to go would be a drama school or private voice coach, neither really geared to a second language speaker’s needs. So in a basement in North London, Pronunciation Studio was born – & in the first year about 50 learners came for individual training.
The results speak for themselves.
Fast forward 7 years, over 10,000 students have followed our courses, Pronunciation Studio is a fully grown school in Holborn, home to 6 teachers. In 2012 we became a publisher and released our course book ‘The Sound of English’ which has gone on to sell thousands of copies worldwide and is used in schools from Canada to India, Russia to Spain.
Pronunciation classes are for everyone.
Key to our growth is the central belief that anybody can improve and this training should be available to everybody. That’s why we run group, individual and online courses to meet all budgets and locations. We also release free materials every week on ‘The Sound of English’ website and tweet daily in IPA so it’s easy to continue learning long after your class or course ends.
*LOSE vs LOOSE
So what is the difference between LOSE and LOOSE? Well, surprisingly LOSE is longer than LOOSE, though the ‘long’ vowel sound /u:/ is used in both. Also, the < se > in LOSE is pronounced /z/ whereas in LOOSE it’s pronounced /s/: LOSE = [luːz] and LOOSE = [luˑs]. Don’t worry, this is an extreme example of strange spelling to sound, most English pronunciation can be deduced by learning some key rules and techniques, all of which are covered in our courses and materials.