Abstract This workshop takes a fun look at accents and a serious look at speaking skills. How do actors find the ‘key’ to a new accent? How far does speaking another language involve playing a role? And can’t pronunciation be just a bit more fun? We’ll explore these questions, experiment with classroom activities – and learn how to impersonate the Queen.
Learning a language is learning to speak a language and speaking a language is a physical thing. If there’s anxiety, you get frozen – and learners start speak with frozen expressions. Let’s get learners to ‘let it go’ – get them to play with pronunciation – for this workshop, with the title!
Say the title of the the workshop
- as if it were the most serious and intelligent thing you’ve ever heard // in pairs –
Comment: You might want to struck your chin there. Your own chin!
- you’re at a party. Imagine that you’re telling to someone at this party what the title of the talk is.
Comment: This time I want to hear some noise!
- in the strongest L1 accent you can think of
Comment: Helps students to think about identity and what they bring into the classroom.
- a nice exercise for a multinational classroom: You’re at a bus stop. Buses are late. It’s starting to rain. Speak in your L1 – how would people in your L1 behave? What would be the body language?
There were some people looking at their watches; some people were tapping on their watches; some groups cursing, animated Maltese with a fight breaking out and an English person doing very little indeed. Luke Meddings thinks that English is a ‘hands in a pocket’ language and a rain face. Play with this stuff in class and exaggerate. Get students to be even a bit more hunched when they take on the English identity.
How do actors get into the skin of famous people?
Try to impersonate the queen! Physical tricks: teeth (impersonating the queen, keep your teeth together). What can she actually say? What would be the register?
Try to impersonate the Beatless! (You’ll need chewing gum for John Lennon.
Tip: check youtube for recordings of actors impersonating people.
One-sentence summary: Get to play with language, try things out, relish language – this is not about the result, this is about the process.
Click here for an overview of all my write-ups from IATEFL 2015.