English Language Coach for non-native teachers of English
Our Accent is an Important part of our Identity


Do you agree with the title above? I’ve had several discussions with various colleagues with differing opinions on this topic. In English, I don’t have a strong accent; anyone listening to me talk would not be able to place me to a certain region in the UK. I’ve never been someone who plays with different accents and couldn’t produce an accent on demand, but I love hearing the range of accents when I’m walking through a multicultural city! Being a teacher of English and speaking a few other languages I am curious how others see themselves when speaking another language. When I’m speaking German or Italian, I tend not to worry too much about my pronunciation, as long as others can understand me. How do you feel about your own accent?


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Do you have a Passion for the English Language?


As teachers of English, we are passionate about our subject and keen to share our enthusiasm and knowledge with our students. However, after weeks, or months, or even years(!), of students looking disinterested and disengaged, we sometimes become resigned to going through the motions, but do not feel our spark. We go through the course book and follow the syllabus, but we do not feel we can share our passion, which means we have a low-level of job satisfaction. Now, I am not blaming anyone, instead I would like to make some suggestions on how we can insert some of that passion back into our classrooms. What do you think, would you like to connect with your students better through English?


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Pronunciation - Elision (Missing Sounds) Part 2

There are many ways fast speakers change the way words are said in English to aid fluency, elision is just one of them.

The use of contractions in spoken language, or skipping sounds in multiple syllabic words, which are unnecessary for comprehension, are just a couple of ways we do this.

Watch this video for more information:

English Language Coach for non-native teachers of English
3 ways to sound more fluent when speaking English

As advanced speakers of English, we tend to speak without considering how we say the words and sentences. That is okay most of the time, because we can make ourselves understood, context can help us when we know what is being spoken about and we can find the funny side of any misunderstandings which do occur. However, for those of you who would like to feel more fluent when speaking English, here are three things you can focus on in order to get your words flowing more smoothly.

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Do You Want to Use More English?

Sometimes, even we teachers get nervous before a language class. We worry about our pronunciation, or that we will not be able to explain something to our students, or that we will make a mistake that is so embarrassing we will have to quit and find a new school to start over again, or maybe we will just find a black hole to hide in, for ever! 

For all these reasons and more we rely on the school course books and the audio files to provide our students with the English they need. We sometimes rely on our mother tongue to give explanations, so we can save time, make it easier for the students and not confuse them with an explanation in English. But is this what is best for our learners of English?


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four giraffe's looking like they're having a conversation
How to Improve our Pronunciation


We are regularly told that speaking clearly and comprehensibly is vital to being understood, but how can we improve our pronunciation? This article takes you through 5 practical tips to help you better your English pronunciation. This is not about getting rid of an accent, or trying to sound like a native-speaker. Although I realise this is the goal for some, the main aim of this article is to give you some pointers of activities you can do in order to be better understood by those you are communicating with.


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Pronunciation - Elision (Missing Sounds)

There are many ways fast speakers change the way words are said in English to aid fluency, elision is just one of them.

The use of contractions in spoken language, or skipping sounds in multiple syllabic words, which are unnecessary for comprehension, are just a couple of ways we do this.

Watch this video for more information:

Three people sitting under a tree chatting
Do we need to encourage our students to speak English with each other in the classroom?

Often, when we give our students a task to complete with a partner, they do the task, but use their mother tongue to discuss the problems with their classmate in order to complete it. Is this a problem? As long as they get the answers correct, does it matter which language they use to get there? I would argue that the more English they use, the more they will learn about the language. I am not saying their mother tongue does not belong in the classroom at all, however, the less it is used the more advances there will be in their English. So, how can we encourage our students to use more English in the classroom, even when they are speaking with their friends?


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Why is Pronunciation so Difficult?


There are many reasons we struggle with pronunciation. But by understanding a language and immersing ourselves in examples of comprehensible speech we can improve. So, what do you find difficult with English pronunciation? Is it that sometimes words sound the same, like ‘cat’ and ‘cut’, or ‘boat’ and ‘bought’? Or other times, that the same word can be pronounced in different ways, such as ‘read’ in the present (I like to read) and ‘read’ in the past (I read a whole book over the weekend)? For others the silent letters cause total confusion, for instance the ‘b’ in ‘lamb’, or ‘comb’ and the ‘h’ in ‘honest’. 

Let’s have a look at how we can understand the English language and its pronunciation.


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Simple English phrases to use in your classroom


Sometimes it may seem easier and quicker to use students’ mother tongue to communicate ideas fast without needing to get into lengthy explanations, especially if it is our first language too. However, this can be detrimental to the student’s language development. When the students expect you to give them instructions, make small talk or ask questions in their mother tongue they do not think in English and so they are less likely to communicate in English even when you do speak to them in the target language. Here are some simple phrases you can use with your students.


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Pronunciation - Same Word, Different Sound


Prepositions, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs and articles can all be pronounced either in their strong form, or their weak form, depending on whether they are stressed or not.

When they are said in their weak form, they are often pronounced using the schwa and should be said softer, shorter and faster than if said in their strong (stressed) form.

Watch this video for more information:

a person holding the word ENCOURAGE on wooden scrabble tiles
How to feel more confident about your pronunciation

How do you feel about your English pronunciation? Hopefully you feel proud that you can communicate in another language, that you are able to make yourself understood and you can understand others. But I know from personal experience, with other languages, we can still feel self-conscious about how we pronounce certain words or sounds. I am still practising how to roll my ‘r’, which is not a common sound in my regional accent. When I speak Italian or Spanish, sometimes I have no problems, but other times I really struggle. So here are some tips on how to feel more comfortable with your pronunciation.


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the word welcome written in 10 different languages
How can we increase the amount of English we use in our classroom language in 3 simple steps?


Of course, as English teachers, we all use English in our classroom. We help our students learn the grammar to speak correctly, we give them exercises to practise the new vocabulary and we use audio recordings to give our students the chance to listen to different voices. However, sometimes, it is easier and quicker to give information in their mother tongue, this prevents any confusion and allows the class to move on more smoothly, does it not? But if we use the students’ native language, why should they bother speaking English, it is much easier and quicker to communicate in their L1. Us using English as much as possible can, and will, change the mind-set of our students and encourage more exploitation of the target language. So, how can we achieve this?


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How can we encourage our students to speak more English?


Kids and teenagers often feel embarrassed when asked to speak in a second language and they don’t want to sound silly or make mistakes in front of their classmates. Sometimes students are shy, especially if they’re not sure of the correct answer. So how can we encourage our students to speak more English?


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drawing of an owl, wearing a hat and glasses, in black and white
Are English teachers still needed in 2020?


At this time, when information is so easily accessible on our smartphones, tablets and laptops, do we really still require English teachers? Especially when so much of the content online is already in the English language.


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