Native speakers wanted!


#1

Hi everybody,

If you are a native speaker of English you might be interested in working with us. We are looking for people who want to create audio versions of our written materials. Maybe you are not a native speaker of English but you know somebody who is? Then you should ask them what you they think of this.

Many thanks,
Torsten


#2

hi Torsten

I am kind of interested but it is not clear form your link, what text, or am I missing something?

cheer stew.t.


#3

Hi Stew,

Thanks a lot for your interest in recording our texts. The one I posted was just a paragraph you might want to record as a sample. The rest of the texts are here.

Let me know what you think.
Regards,
Torsten[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Talking about being self-employed.[YSaerTTEW443543]


#4

Hi,

What do you make of this recording by Brandee Sweesy? I like a lot – the only thing is that Brandee was using the integrated mic that came with her laptop. She is now trying to get a decent microphone from her local store and we hope the background noise will be gone. Unfortunately, the mic we discussed here is not available in the States. However, I’m quite sure she’ll find something similar.

Please let me know what you think.
Thanks,
Torsten[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Trying to reach a co-worker on the phone[YSaerTTEW443543]


#5

Hi Torsten

Brandee has a nice, friendly voice and her accent is basically general American (though I thought I caught a touch of the South here and there).

She spoke clearly, but also seemed to be speaking much more slowly than normal. That’s perhaps good for beginners and the sort of text she recorded. For higher level texts, I’d say she should speak at normal conversational speed.

One thing stuck out in this sentence:

She got a little tangled up at the word “an” and seems to have not actually said the letter “s” at all. (Possibly the unusual quote marks around the “s” threw her off.)

As for background noise, to be honest, I didn’t notice any at all.
.


#6

Hi Torsten.

I’m interested. I have some audio recording software installed on my computer and I think they’re good enough. How can I send you a clip?

*Edit: My bad, I didn’t see the email address when I skimmed the page. Will record and email :slight_smile:


#7

Hi guys

Would agree with Amy´s point concerning delivery of speech. But maybe Brandee was being considerate with her recording.
But then that brings up the issue of something sounding forced versus being comprehensible for the level of the listener. An issue I often have with a lot of material. Maybe a balance of a slower speed for explanations and then a natural voice for dialogues or monologues is better. But I am still undecided on this.

Another point that came up when I recorded the text, the phrase “on the weekend” is not natural for a speaker of BrE. But this is a pretty complex issue, as the text needs to have uniformity. However will the learner assume that this form is BrE when listening to an Englishman like me? Something to consider.
On the other hand the learner may see it purely as a learning tool for grammar and form.


#8

Hi Stew

ESLers will have direct access to the texts, so if they have trouble understanding what they hear, they can choose to read along while they’re listening. That’s one reason I don’t see much need for overly slow speech in the recordings here.

What I have found is that unnaturally slow speaking can give ESLers the wrong impression in a couple of ways.

  • They attempt to always pronounce words just as they have heard them. When a recording is unnaturally slow, the words will of course be pronounced more clearly, but also tend to sound unconnected. Students often get frustrated that they cannot reproduce the sounds when they try to speak at a normal speed.

  • If the recordings are to be used to help students with their listening skills, then extremely slow speech will not help them too much in the “real” world. They need to practice listening to and understanding what is natural, not what is artificial and non-existent.

  • When a native speaker attempts to speak overly slowly, they may end up pronouncing certain words completely differently than what they would otherwise use in “normal” speech. An example of what I mean is Brandee’s pronunciation of the indefinite article “a” in the sentence “What do you do for a living?” Although that pronunciation might be used in certain situations for emphasis, it is unlikely to be used in that sentence “in real life”.
    .
    .
    Brandee, if you are reading along here, please don’t misunderstand me. I liked your recording very much and think your recordings would be a great asset. My comments are intended as hopefully helpful input, and reflect the opinions I’ve formed after having taught ESL for a very long time.
    .


#9

Hi Amy

I agree with you that slowing speech down gives learners (or ESLers to coin your phrase :)) the wrong benchmark. However I would also say that I alter my delivery dependant on the function.
If reciting a dialogue then I become more natural than in explanations in the classroom or on this section of recordings. I think this is normal, well as normal as a teacher´s trait can be.

There is some adjustment in my and other people´s speech dependant on function, don´t you think?

stew.t.


#10

Hi Stew,

You’re right there. You only need to listen to my recordings here to hear the difference (I hope) :).

But Amy’s points are quite valid as well - you need to find a good balance of intelligible speech and natural speed.


#11

Should “natural speed” come out something like this, IYO?

I start wor_kat 9 o’clo_ckand fini_shat 5:30.
Water boil_sat 100 degree_sCelsius.
We usually visi_tour friend_son the weekend.

Should we hear the “linking”?


#12

Hello everyone,

Thank you for all your feedback and support regarding our audio recording project. Stew and Martin have submitted their recording samples and it would be great to get your feedback on them too (sound quality, voice, intonation, pronunciation, etc.) You can listen to them here.

Regards,
Torsten[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Choosing the right seminars and workshops[YSaerTTEW443543]


#13

Hi,

I thought Stew delivered the introduction in such a way that it sounded interesting. So often information like this read out aloud can sound painfully boring but Stew avoided that trap.

Alan


#14

Hi,

The sound quality of all three clips can easily be improved by using software filters, but I think the only suitable recording (for learners) so far was Brandee’s. I also think that Stew hasn’t yet exploited his full auditory phonetics potential since I know for a fact that he doesn’t usually mumble all that much :).


#15

Hi

Thks Alan for your compliments, flattery gets you everywhere.

As for mumbling Ralf, care to point out the mumbling that causes incomprehension?
You know my speech is not unaccented or clear as a bell, but I don´t fake a stronger accent for effect either. :shock:


#16

Hi Stew,

I only listened to the first 20 seconds of your blip.

Of course you didn’t fake it for effect, I was only trying to point to difficulties learners might encounter when listening to your recording. Can you not hear yourself slurring your words?


#17

Hi All

I agree with Alan that Stew did a good job of making the recording interesting.

I think what Ralf referred to as “mumbling” was simply the sort of natural speech that a NNS is likely to encounter in real life. Too many recordings designed for ESL present the learner with unrealistic and/or artificial examples of natural speech. In my opinion, exposure to various accents and varying types of enunciation can only help an ESL student prepare for using and listening to English outside the language lab.

Slowing speech down somewhat in a text that gives instructions, for example, is fine. Slightly slower speech may also be desirable for beginners. However, even in texts that are read a little more slowly and perhaps enunciated a little more clearly than ususal, I don’t think the way words are linked in normal speech should be lost.

Martin’s recording was also nice. I’d be interested in knowing how he would categorize his accent.
.


#18

Stew just has unusual prosody and a couple of regional vowel pronunciations, and it’s not really that he’s slurring his words (at least in his mind or mine). Things just don’t fall together with the rhythm that most foreign learners or native speakers would expect. Notice that the American man has a moment or two of that also.

However, because Stew’s pronunciation is so different from the General American or RP usually used in textbook recordings, his speech could be confusing to foreign learners if there’s nothing to read along with. So much for the frequent claim of students with bad listening comprehension that “British English” is easier to understand. :smiley:

Stew’s recording reminds me of a podcast I found for learning Spanish. My reaction upon first listening to the speaker was, “I can’t understand WHAT the hell this woman is saying!” Listening to her while reading the transcript made me realize she was Argentinean, and I decided to pay for a subscription to the podcast so that I could get all the materials and really learn to understand that accent. However, it wasn’t two months before the management yanked that lady and replaced her with two crystal-clear Mexican speakers. The whole thing lost its advantage for me!

It’s interesting to notice that the two Americans have pronunciation that displays what is called the Northern Cities Vowel Shift. It is most noticeable when they pronounce [æ] as [iə], so cat would be something like [kiət]. This is very common, but it’s not standard broadcast pronunciation.


#19

Hi guys, and thanks for the feedback.

Yankee, I honestly do not know how to categorize my accent. I don’t usually speak the way I did in the recording, I just sorta scrubbed it clean. My normal accent’s a mix of different regions, most probably because I grew up with different people (Black, Hispanic, Californians, New Yorkers and Texans).

Jamie, uhm I’m actually not American. I’m Filipino :).


#20

Hi Stew,

Thanks a lot for your taking part in this project. I think your recording sounds pretty natural and that’s what makes listening to it so interesting. The big drawback of the vast ESL audio materials is that they are usually artificial. That’s why you hear students say the following all the time: “I learned English at school for 7 years but I don’t understand much because I was taught ‘school English’.” Now, our goal is to produce materials that feature authentic speech rather than “ESL speech”. You are an educated native speaker who runs his own company. If somebody doesn’t understand you, they have to listen to the recording again. That’s what’s going to happen in ‘real life’. Let’s say you are a German who finds a job in the US or the UK. Would you really expect from everyone you get in contact with to start speaking excatly the way all those people on your ESL materials spoke? In other words, if you don’t understand native speakers you shouldn’t blame them. Blame yourself and improve your listening skills.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Two co-workers discuss a memo on dress code[YSaerTTEW443543]