Brian Park moved from Seoul, South Korea to Auckland, New Zealand 2 years ago. A qualified engineer and relatively proficient in English, Brian thought it would be relatively easy to get a job as it was widely known and advertised that New Zealand had a shortage of qualified engineers.
However after more than 9 months of searching for a job, Brain became disillusioned. “I could not understand it,” he says. “My English is good and my experience was the same as the employers were looking for. In fact in Korea I had been exposed to working on even bigger projects than the local ones here.”
However when Brian came to SpeechSchool.TV and did his first assessment test, his spoken English was not as proficient as he first thought. “The assessment showed me that my spoken pronunciation in English could actually be quite hard to understand for the local speakers. This surprised me a lot as my written English has been shown to be very strong.”
Brian then realised that while is understanding of the English language was in fact very good his ability to pronounce it was not because most of his life he had been only using written English, not actually speaking it every day in an English speaking country.
The most important things are the “accent” and the local “lingo” Brian says. “Actually before I started SpeechSchool I couldn’t even say the word “pronunciation” correctly.”
He now thinks that despite his excellent qualifications and depth of experience, employers were concerned about his ability to converse with staff and clients and were therefore selecting local candidates over and above him, even if they were less qualified.
Brian says through using the English Accent program at SpeechSchool.TV he has now managed to soften his accent and speak English much more clearly. “I feel more confident now,” he says, “that I am just as good as the Kiwi candidates and can communicate in spoken English just as clearly.”
While English is the global language of business, for many international students one of the few ways to learn a clear and neutral mode of speaking English has been to travel and live in English speaking countries such as the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Indeed the US and Australia alone take almost 50% of the world’s international students.
However many students are now embracing a full online television and personal assessment program offered by SpeechSchool.TV. The Master Speaker English Accent program is described as the next best thing to living and studying in an English speaking environment for students who already have a basic grasp of the language.
The award winning online program now has students from more than 60 different countries learning to speak English clearly and fluently. Not only are the results reported to be as effective as one to one tuition with a speech teacher but the costs are very economical and students may study in their own country at a time convenient to them.
“The results I’ve seen from doing SpeechSchool.TV have been great. My pronunciation is clearer and I have gained a deeper understanding of my own pronunciation. I am now able to communicate with others using English more fluently and am finding it more enjoyable,” says Wendy Wang from China.
An update on the results being seen from the Speech Assessments Department
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.