Intonation Training: From Yam-Yam to Yia Sou

Intonation adds a thousand different colours to speech. Coloured glass. Image by Simon Jackson on FreeImages.com

When you meet me, one of the first things you notice is probably my accent. Despite being embedded in Scottish life for over a decade, there’s still an unmistakeable Midlands lilt that persists. The vowels have flattened out to something… Continue reading

Phonetics Mismatch – Why We Mispronounce Foreign Languages (And Why It Doesn’t Really Matter)

A picture of a mouth articulating. Accurate phonetics gets us close to sound native. Image from freeimages.com

This week, I had the great news of an offer to study towards an MSc in Linguistics. And, keen on preparing well for a good start, I started working through a couple of the set texts. First up: phonetics and… Continue reading

Great accent, shame about the rest!

Accent - sometimes you can be too good! Image by Betty Miller from FreeImages.com

How is your accent in the language you’re learning? I’m pretty pleased with mine. In fact, I think it might be a little too good. Before the eye-rolling starts, let me explain. This isn’t an embarrassing lapse in modesty and perspective.… Continue reading

Revisiting beginner resources for an accent audit

Beginner CD resources can help you audit your accent as an advanced learner. Image from freeimages.com

We all have languages we are proud of, languages we’ve worked hard at over the years. I count Norwegian as one of those. One I chose, rather than had thrust upon me at school, it’s something I’ve kept chugging away… Continue reading

The Accent Challenge : Develop 3D Listening in your Foreign Languages

Accent and dialect (like Doric Scots) lend colour to language- and learning opportunities to linguists. (Image from freeimages.com)

Of all the characteristic features of regions, few lend as much colour and hue as local accent. And, fresh from a weekend in North East Scotland, I’ve had another chance to ponder this as I soak up the distinct Doric… Continue reading

Getting Polyglossic with Glossika : Making Language Learning *Massive*

Headphones - perhaps to listen to Glossika with! From freeimages.com

I’ve always liked the ‘mass sentences’ approach for supplementing and boosting your language learning. The idea is that you take a huge corpus of quality, target language sentences, and use them as your source material. It’s a quick route to massive exposure. It’s… Continue reading

Accentuate the positive: accents and language learning

Parroting accents may not be the best way to fluency

This post comes to you from beautiful Belfast, where I’ve spent a wonderful weekend attending a wedding with good friends. The trip has been a treat in more ways than one. As a linguist, accents have always piqued my interest. And… Continue reading

Voice in my head: developing polyglot personalities

Open mic, ready for your voice

If you learn more than one language, there is one question you hear more often than any other: how do you avoid getting mixed up? There are many answers to this. But one key strategy, for me, is developing a… Continue reading

Dialect deviants? Celebrating linguistic diversity

Dialektboka (The Dialect Book) from Norway

Spoiler alert: the language you’re learning probably isn’t the language people are speaking. Thanks to dialect, you might be surprised when you chat with your first native speaker. If you’re not prepared for it, the surprise can be disconcerting at best, and demoralising… Continue reading