Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Say Thank You




I recently send this email to Judy Gilbert, author of Clear Speech and Clear Speech from the Start. And because I love teachable moments, I wanted to post it so you could see an example of an actual email sent from one American to another. We don't know each other, so it is more formal than an email I would write to a friend.

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Dear Ms. Gilbert, (I don't know her marital situation, so I am using Ms.)

I have been teaching ESL/EFL for a year. My TESOL certification program did not teach me anything about pronunciation. But I have had many students complain that people couldn't understand them and they didn't know why. I was shocked to learn that the local community college doesn't teach pronunciation. In addition, the TOEFL requires clear pronunciation, but I don't see many resources for learners that include feedback from a native English speaker. So I find myself gravitating towards teaching pronunciation.

I started working on making their pronunciation more clear, and that is going well, but teaching vowels has always confused me. Last night I was at my wit's end. How can I teach all of these vowel sounds to my students if they don't even make sense to me? It just didn't make logical sense.

I eventually came across the prosody speech you did at The New School (on YouTube) and my cloud of gloom lifted. You spoke of everything I have learned or thought in the past year. How important pronunciation is, how native English speakers will give up speaking with a student after a few tries, and how my students can feel isolated because of it. And it explained why the teachers avoid it.

In addition, you gave me a path to move forward. I went to bed excited and renewed. So I wanted to thank you for your speech, it really lifted my spirits.

Thank you,
Lia Hollander

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I will let you know if she writes back! But even if she doesn't, it made me happy just to write the email.
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