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English with “Father Ted”

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Since my current work is entirely one-on-one tutoring, I get to try crazy things because I only have to deal with one student. It’s pretty easy for me to judge the student’s receptiveness to whatever unusual approach in mind, especially once I know the student well. This is a lot harder to do in a class. As a bonus, I don’t have to worry about whether the administration feels something is inappropriate for the classroom. If I think it’s okay and my client thinks it’s okay, then anything goes!

I’ve been using Clear Speech with a couple of different clients from Japan. Chapter 5 includes a bit on “off-glide” sounds that often appear when there are vowel sounds at touching word boundaries, such as “my eye” or “she isn’t.” An example in the text was “go on,” which is pronounced something like /gowan/.

If you’re a fan of British comedies, as I’ve become since meeting my partner, you may have immediately thought of the same episode of “Father Ted” as I did. “Father Ted” is a well-known comedy about the misadventures of three bumbling Irish priests (including Father Ted), their crazed and put-upon housekeeper (Mrs. Doyle), and other oddball characters. In this episode, the housekeeper and Father Ted attempt to convince a reluctant guest to take a drink of sherry (a very bad idea for everyone concerned). You can clearly hear the /w/ sound in her repeated exhortations to “Go on, go on, go on!” and take a sip of sherry.

The introductory part was too hard to understand for one of my clients, and about 50% comprehensible for the other, but the “Go on!” bit made both of them laugh fairly hard. I’m pretty sure they’ll remember that glide for a while! Ah, I really love the freedom of being a private instructor sometimes.

(Remind me to tell you about our use of LOLcats for vocabulary later on.)

What kind of unconventional tactics have you used successfully? (Or, for that matter, unsuccessfully!)

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3 comments to English with “Father Ted”

  • Internet Explorer 7.0 Windows XP

    Hi Clarissa! This video is so good to see the sound changes. I think lots of Japanese might take this ‘go on’ for ‘gown’ or something.
    BTW, I’ve introduced you to people in Tadoku site, and they are happy to know that there are some Tadokist, we call someone doing Tadoku Tadokist, in the U.S.
    I wonder how you got to know Tadoku and how you were able to get some books for Tadoku in Japanese.

  • Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 Mac OS X 10

    Hi, Emmie–
    Thanks, I’ll try to join the site soon. Tadokist, haha, cool!

    I learned about about extensive reading while I was getting my master’s degree in teaching English. Someone on the Japan board at eslcafe.com recommended the Japanese books for anyone learning Japanese. I ordered the first set from the Kinokuniya in San Jose, California. (It’s about 30 minutes from my place.) One of my Japanese clients brought me the second set when he visited his home in Japan briefly.

    I actually found the word “tadoku” by looking up “extensive reading” at alc.co.jp — you know, normal Japanese< ->English dictionaries don’t have that kind of thing in them! I love that dictionary…

  • Clint
    Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 Mac OS X 10

    Oh, go on.

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