SoundSmart - English pronunciation course for Russians
The SoundSmart interactive multimedia English pronunciation course is intended for adult native Russian speakers at all levels of English proficiency - from beginners to advanced learners. The language of the material is Russian.
Russian speaking ESL teachers may also greatly benefit from the course's methodology. No prior background in either English or Russian phonetics or linguistics is expected from the course taker. The educational material is designed for self study sessions with an average duration of 40 to 90 minutes per session.
The course is based on the Mid-Western accent of the American English ("General American"), but structured to address any dialectical varieties of the language: other American accents, Canadian English, General Australian and RP.
SoundSmart English Pronunciation consists of two parts:
English phonetics ("Phonetics")
Practical phonetics of the English language ("Practice")
The material of the Phonetics is to be covered in approximately 30 to 80 hours of self-study effort and includes lectures and interactive exercises. Upon completion, the course taker should be able to distinguish between Russian and English sounds articulation patterns, pronounce all individual English sounds correctly, and recognize them in fast speech of native English speakers.
The second part of the course - Practice - is a set of two two-and-a-half-hour long videos, which are based on North American English speech patterns only. Each video starts with a half-an-hour lecture on practical American English phonology and then dwells on the analyses of the real-world speech of native speakers of North American English - first almost "perfect" (narrator-like), then affected by accents, emotions, marginal mistakes and interjections. The intended duration of the self-study effort for the Practice is from 30 to 120 hours, which brings the total effort duration of the whole course to 60 - 200 hours of self-study.
Practice in American Phonoloy
First off, you are going to get a great pronunciation course - my pet project, into which I invested years of serious work and tons of money. :) Trust me - that's important, too, for there are dozens of "me too" products out there, which came into existence with a sole purpose of making a quick buck. People are born with different innate talents and knacks for doing something better than others... Teachers are not born equal either. ;)
Seriously, though: even the best textbook or multimedia course is going to be useless for you unless you are willing to apply yourself at it. In case of SoundSmart Pronunciation, I'm asking you to exert a personal effort of 60 to 200 hours - subject to your age and learning predilections. With a university educational background in exact sciences you are most likely to get the kicks out of my teaching approach.
Further, the expected results must be viewed from these two perspectives:
Fast spontaneous English speech comprehension skills;
The degree of Russian accent reduction in English.
What you are going to get out of the pronunciation course
I totally guarantee that anybody's fast English speech comprehension skills will go way up after taking my course. It's that simple: one just can't escape benefiting from the ability to analyze the sounds of English - be it your own sounds, or those made by other fellow humans.
You are going to "adjust your ears and mouth" to various native English accents with more ease and confidence. In fact, you will be marveling at all the varieties of English dialects and accents, comparing and playing with them at your leisure. The course is surely going to teach you how to do it. Have fun! :)
Also, by having your "ears at ease" while listening to English, you are going to appreciate the chance to better focus on the actual information conveyed, think how to respond more effectively, learn advanced grammar and cultural aspects of the practical language usage.
Now, let's talk about the dreaded issue of a foreign accent in English...
It matters. It does so because for us - homo sapience - social interactions are a very crucial part of the environment we live in as a spices. In today's world our "success" is measured by our social standing in the society. (By the way, money is important, too - whether you like it or not. ;))
I can totally appreciate your desire to speak English like - let's say - Americans, if you live in the US: Yes - you want to be accepted as equal (or better ;)) in order to be successful in their society.Alas, there is a catch: getting rid of your foreign accent completely is a tall order for 99.99% of adult (13+) learners of English as a second language. The process has a poor track record. That's why it's called "accent reduction" - not "accent elimination" in the industry of pumping money out of immigrants. ;)
Some accents are, indeed, unacceptable because they inhibit communications and, in a way, make the speakers look silly. Here are a few extreme examples:
Yes - some of us (very few, in fact) are lucky to be born with innate ability to learn to speak English with a near-native accent at a young adult age. I personally met just one gentleman with such a proven (sic!) talent in my entire life - go figure! The good news: you don't have to speak completely accent-free English in order to be successful in an English-speaking country. Examples are multiple. Generally, by the age of 30 you should already have enough personal and social clout in order to be "accepted" and "respected" even if you have a slight foreign accent. In fact, a pleasant (sic!) one is a good thing - it stands you apart from "the crowd", makes you a more interesting person. The opposite sex is going to love it, too. ;)
Do you remember that Pareto's 80/20 rule, that 20% of efforts solve 80% of problems? Well, my course is going to solve 90% of your "problems" with English accent. You don't have to be perfect but you could become much better through a relatively small effort. Here's an example of two drawings of the same woman done by a novice student before and after the very first drawing lesson:
You are welcome to review the audio recordings of my speech in English.
Go ahead and review this web site - this course might be for you, too, one never knows. Thank you very much for reading this post.