字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 This video is a joint project between Rachel's English, Jason R Levine, aka Fluency MC and Vicki Hollett, the video producer. It originally aired on WizIQ. Enjoy! The Best in ELT with Fluency MC. Listen, oh, listen. Rachel, it's so nice to be sitting down with you to talk. I met you once in real "real life." That's right. But like many people, I feel like I know you from seeing your videos and following you. I have a lot of respect for your work. Thank you. And I'm so happy to have this chance to talk to you. I guess the first thing I want to ask, and I know a lot of people are interested in, is how did, how did you get into teaching in the first place? Was it English as a foreign language or a second language, was it something else and then, how did that connect or evolve into teaching pronunciation? Yeah, well, I think it was a bit of an unusual path. I did teach a little bit of ESL but mostly Rachel's English grew out of something totally different, which was, I went to school for opera singing. Right. I have a Masters of Music in Opera Performance. And so through that I was getting really connected to this part of my body. So it was pronunciation first, in a sense, because you had this background in opera. Yeah, the ESL work that I did was useful but I don't think it actually is related at all to the Rachel's English thing that I'm doing, even though I did have that experience. So, mostly it grew out of myself singing in other languages. And so I was studying the pronunciation specifically and the phonetics of Italian, French, German, English for the stage; I had studied Spanish. So, there was that, my relationship to learning the pronunciation of other languages. But maybe even more so, it was just spending a decade really focused on breath and you know tongue placement and these kinds of things. And I think that gave me a really clear language to talk about pronunciation for other people. Did you have a language teacher helping you with that or, and a music teacher, or were you learning the pronunciation of the languages through the music? It was in a class that specifically "Diction for Singers". I see. So it was always related to the goal of singing for the stage. And it was focused on pronunciation and not so much the languages, although I the did take a semester of Italian, a year of German, and a semester of French. So you almost had no choice; they focused you on pronunciation. Yeah, they did, because, you know, if you only have one year and you need to get all of these things under your belt, then that's what's the most important; because as a singer you can memorize a translation and, you know, the feeling of what goes where, but in order to sell it, you have to really sound like you know what you're saying. And you were teaching English during that time or where you'd taught before? I did teach English as a second language a little bit during that time at a place in Boston where all of my students were Korean and it was mostly one-on-one or two-on-one, thirty minute sessions, and I really loved it. I think the rhythm of the language is so important, and the melody. And for me, having the background in singing has been really helpful for that, partially because, you know, singing is rhythm and is melody, but then also I think I developed an ear through that for when I hear someone do something, I can imitate it quite well. And then I can find out what needs to be changed. So, often with students, I'll imitate, think what needs to shift, and then be able to articulate that to them. Ah, that's interesting. For their pronunciation. And do they know you're doing that or is this your best kept secret you're revealing right now? They do they know because they'll be talking and I'll say "hold on," and then I'll do it myself and I'll say, okay your tongue needs to make whatever adjustment. I do that actually with grammar and vocabulary, if something's high frequency, and I'll kind of tune in to the collective use of English somehow from listening but I don't have that gift with pronunciation; so that's great. For the W consonant, the tongue tip is down here, and the back part of the tongue stretches up, so the tongue stretches this way. Ww, ww, wow. For the R consonant, the back part of the tongue does stretch up, here towards the middle part of the roof of the mouth. The front part of the tongue pulls back. So, with the W, the tongue is stretching. With the R, the tongue is sort of pulling up into itself. I think I just have a real interest in the human voice and how we produce sounds, and vocal health, and this kind of thing. So that's where my interest lies, not so much in even teaching a language, or, I mean, certainly not grammar! Sometimes teachers will correct my grammar in videos because it's not always perfect. It's all about your passion; follow your passion. That's right. And so, like, pronunciation and the human voice, that's where it is for me. So what happened as far as getting your work up on YouTube? Did you first imagine putting a video of yourself up there and reaching just your students or more students? No, actually, I didn't have students when I first started the videos. I first started the videos when I was living in Germany and I was studying at a language institute there, so most of the people that in as in contact with were not American and also were not German: they were from all over the world studying German. And so I had a friend there from Turkey. And he was interested in American English because Hollywood is such a great exporter of American English, and wanted to sound more American. So we just played around a little bit with a few of the sounds, and I was telling him, you know, what his tongue should be doing and this kind of thing. And he was like, wow, you're really good at that. And I thought: hmm, idea! Actually, in undergrad, I studied computer science and in order to keep that skill set going, I had been wanting to make a website; I just didn't really have a topic yet. But I knew that was something that I wanted to create and so when he told me he thought I was good at that, I thought, maybe that's my idea. And so I made a few videos, put them on YouTube, connected them to a website, and just went from there. And how, what was the reaction at first? Nothing! There was no reaction for a long time. Why? Well, I wasn't doing them with a business mind; I wasn't promoting at all; I was just exploring, basically. And that was ok probably, at that point, or did it make you worried and nervous: nobody likes my approach? No it didn't make me worried and nervous, no, not at all, because I wasn't doing it for an audience. I was mostly doing it as a way to explore a website-production kind of thing. It's great that you had this interest in both pronunciation and computers. Yeah, no, definitely. You weren't an expert right? It just got you more into thinking about ... In pronunciation? No, not pronunciation, I mean that I'm just wondering, especially for people out there thinking about doing any kind of online anything, but especially teaching, or students who want to study online, who might be a little afraid of technology thinking that they can't do it. It sounds like you kind of dove in. One step at a time. Oh totally. I mean, when I realized what I needed to learn, I learned it. I did not start Rachel's English at all with an idea of what it would be, like, in no way, and I'm still not sure what it will be. And that's important to the point now, because it's gotten, it's so well done now. I think that someone who hasn't followed you for as long as I have or as long as many other people here may have, would just think that wow that she just, boom, but it didn't happen that way. Definitely not. No, no. It grew. It started out in a dorm room in Germany. When was that, by the way? That was 2008. This October will be my 5th year anniversary of posting my first video. Congratulations in advance. Thank you. That's great. I want to ask you more about the rhythm of English, because I focus a lot on that too. What techniques have you found most useful? Because there are a lot out there. Yeah, well, I'm still developing that actually. But I've had a lot of fun recently working with students where I actually take the actual words out of the picture, and we just work on rhythm. So, for example, let's just take that phrase da-da-DA-da: for example. And when you take the text out, you're just focusing on the rhythm. Then the main thing I have to do with my students is to make their short even shorter, duh duh duh duh, trying to make them comfortable with that kind of length; and then once they start having, like, the rhythmic language down, and they're comfortable with that contrast and with making things that short, then when they put the word back in it's just unreal how much better it sounds. And then they're so aware of the difference s if you don't hear it yourself, feel it yourself, then you're not going to catch it when people say it. Yeah. It's such a matter of boiling things down to the most simple units for teaching. So, like the L consonant,and just drilling that, or in this case the rhythm, just drilling that, out of the context of the word or phrase. And then you know you can teach people that this rhythmic pattern can apply to all of these different words. And so, yeah, then as they really drill one word and one pattern, they're actually making themselves comfortable with the pattern that can be applied to tons of different words and sentences. And you said you're still developing this, so imagine where she's going to go with... Yeah, I'm excited about it! ...teaching the stress and what I call "shrinking and linking". I just wanted to go back to ask you, when you first started out and you were making those videos, did you think about the fact that so many students don't have enough time in the class? I mean, you were teaching a group of Korean students. Yeah, that was about a year before I started the Rachel's English thing. Was part of it, were you also inspired or motivated to try to deliver something to individual students who wouldn't necessarily have that kind of attention to pronunciation? Well, yeah, in a way. When I was teaching at the institute in Boston, all of my students told me no one else cared about the pronunciation the way I did, and they really cared. So they really wanted a teacher who really cared. Well, can you imagine someone who is trying to learn a language who's not concerned about pronunciation? But it's true, what you're saying. I hear this complaint from a lot from students that teachers aren't focusing on it. So definitely that was in the back of my mind and the videos were made completely for self-study. I know that teachers do use them in the classroom but my original idea was just to have a great resource to learn on their own because for me, since I left college, everything that I've had to know, I taught myself. The library, or online resources, or whatever. I mean languages, computer stuff. That's interesting. I love that kind of learning. Well, I can see how that has benefitted you and your work.Yeah, definitely. Basically, I wanted to make something for English like I wished I was finding for French, and German, and Italian. So yeah, I thought it was really fun and I wanted to sort of provide this service for students. I think it's really interesting that you made them for self-study. You didn't really think about a teacher bringing them into the classroom . But now, I notice a lot of teachers using it in the flipped classroom model. The other day, literally the other day, at a college where I was doing a workshop, teachers were talking about the problem we just talked about, about pronunciation and how students want more and what should they do because they don't feel trained enough. I think that's a big reason why it's not... I think so, too. I've had teachers say the same thing: I don't know how to teach that. So it's interesting because I'm a teacher trainer, and I used to think OK, well then my job is to try to train up teachers to be able to do that and now I'm wondering if that is the best way because the other day these teachers were gathered at a college in New Jersey. And they were talking about this and then one teacher said, "You know there's this great teacher online, that teaches pronunciation. Students can just watch her, she's ..." and I knew she was going to say your name, and she said, Rachel's English! True story. That's awesome! I smiled to myself. "I'm going to have a conversation with her!" What she said was, "What I do with my students is just, you know, ask them to watch those videos, and then do some stuff in class but then they watch on their own or, and/or I learn from Rachel as a teacher how to do this in ways that I haven't been able to do from books or even from taking classes." It feels great to know that I'm providing something that can be helpful to teachers, too. Because you know teachers, obviously, it's one person, and they're reaching many, many, many so if I can help the teacher, then there's just that many more people that are benefiting from it. But yeah, I think that the idea of the flipped classroom is so great because, you know, not only do the teachers not need to learn every single thing to teach directly, they can sort of be a curator of other resources, and oversee the process of learning for their students. It's a very specific skill set to teach pronunciation, different maybe than the skills set to teach a language, and grammar, and classroom management. You would know, and she would know that, better than anyone. That's right, so, you know, not every teacher needs to be a great musician and a you know super great at teaching pronunciation if they know other resources that they can recommend. Aren't we at a time in history, with education, where, you know, teachers can be facilitators, guides, curators, mentors, you know, if you want to learn to be a great pronunciation teacher, fantastic; but if you don't or if you don't have the time, what's the point of being a mediocre one, when you can go see Rachel. Exactly, that's exactly right. I mean, a good teacher is maybe one that knows, well, this person teaches this so well, there's nothing more that I feel like I could add to it, let me point my students in that direction, let them work with the material, and then I can be here for questions and guidance, and that kind of thing. I think it's so important. And I think, ultimately, it's just going to make education a lot better. Yeah, I think so, too. So you had that experience teaching in a classroom. Someone the other day said, talking about 'ground teachers', or teachers on the ground. I love that. Instead of, like, 'first life' or 'real life'. Are you a ground teacher also? I'm not right now, actually. You're not on the ground. Not on the ground. Yes, only in the cloud. But I do have plans to start developing, some in-person maybe workshop kind of things, then maybe move more into longer-term classroom situation. I'm really not sure. I mean, I just, for every video I make I have ideas for a hundred. I feel like I have a lot on my plate with what I'm doing virtually. And so, I do really want to move into that, because I think that in-person aspect is so interesting. Well, they can go hand-in-hand. Can't they? They can. To throw out another term, the blended learning doesn't just have to happen with the teacher flipping the classroom, it can also be, people are watching your videos, but then here you are in person to do something that you couldn't do and then it's back to virtual... Definitely. Definitely. So I see myself moving in that direction at some point, but it's not in the short-term plan. You just got back from a trip. I did. I was spying on you a little bit on the trip. I don't usually spy.