Using the IDEA accent archive in one-to-one classes

Recently I’ve been using the International Dialects of English Archive frequently when teaching Business English one-to-one to employed adults.

This post outlines what I usually do, hoping to learn from readers who may comment on other ways that one can use the archive. So please do let me know.

Usually the need for listening practice with an accent occurs in class, this is not a problem as the archive’s interface allows one to look for and download a file fairly rapidly (see Update 5 below). I download both a recording and its transcript. The recordings are monologues recounting personal information about the speaker.

The student is told to listen a couple of times (more if needed) and note down as much as they can understand. They are also told to listen out for only the second part of the recording as the first part is of the person reading from a set text. The transcript is then given for the student to read and listen to the archive at the same time.

As well as practising listening, I also use the transcript to look at any lexis questions the student may have.

Although I have yet to do this, for students wanting more accent training, selected phrases/chunks from the recording could be used for students to write down word for word. The transcript could also be used to get students to mark word stress/sentence stress/connected speech.

A post by Rachael Roberts/@teflerhina describes some ways to focus on decoding skills.

I have also been toying around with the idea of pointing to words and phrases in the transcript which the student would have to seek in the recording using the forward/back buttons on the player.

How would you/do you use it?

Update 1:

A news article describing recent research looking at accents and comprehensibility (HT @TESOL_Assn) caught my attention. I always wonder how much accent listening work would be useful for my learners, thinking I do too little. This research suggests that comprehensibility in the form of grammar and vocabulary may be more important than pronunciation. Food for thought.

Update 2:

A rich post by Kevin Stein/@kevchanwow on helping beginners with listening to English has given me some ideas to check whether my learners have segmentation issues or not.

Update 3:

A great post on connected speach by Rachael Roberts/@teflerhina led me to this video by Mark Hancock explaining one way to help students with accents. He identifies 5 vowels and 5 consonants which are vulnerable to change according to the speech community the speaker is from. I find this is to be a very handy guide and look forward to applying it with my students. The handout of the talk can be found here.

Update 4:

A great post describing the use of micro-listenings by Carolyn Kerr/@KerrCarolyn.

Update 5:

It is not as simple now to download recordings for offline use. If you have Firefox from the page with recording you want go to Tools/PageInfo/Media tab and you will see mp3 in list.

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