e-centre, Massey University
One of the most satisfying aspects of the work we do at SpeechSchool.TV is grading student Speech Assessments. We get to hear our students’ voices. In some cases we hear about their week that was, their challenges and their hopes for the future.
For students who come from a different language background, one of the first targets they seek to reach in an Assessment is the pass score of 65% which signifies a basic level of clarity.
Many ESL (English as Second Language) speakers that start with SpeechSchool generally achieve scores between 40% to 55% on their first Assessment. This means they have failed to achieve a clear or neutral accent and their English may not always be easy to comprehend.
What we are seeing with dedicated students is an average increase in score of around 10% within their first 3 months with the Master Speaker – English Accent program. For example, a student who did an Assessment before starting her program achieved a score of 53%. After working with the program for 6 weeks she took a second Assessment, and after comparing the two, Michelle Puckeridge (SpeechSchool voice coach) awarded her a score of 63%.
“This student had improved heaps,” Mrs. Puckeridge said. “It is amazing how much better she sounds. I listened to her old recording and compared it. I made a comment about how pleased I was to receive her recording to assess because I could see her progress.”
In practice this means that particular student has gone from being relatively difficult to understand to almost passing the level required to reach the clarity of most native speakers. Certainly this means a more confident voice.
At the higher level some advanced second language and native English speakers undertaking Assessments are seeing scores between 60 to 75%. The challenge for these students is to move to scores in the 75% to 85% band which reflects the speech of a an educated or trained English speaker, and beyond this above 85% which means they have passed to a professional broadcast standard and would have a voice and mode of speech that should be suitable for radio or television.
The Speech Assessments are objective since they are graded on specific measures of correctness of pronunciation and flow of language. They represent an important way for us to test the effectiveness of our courses. One thing that is particularly noticeable is the strong progress students can achieve when they are clearly practicing the exercises on a daily basis.