This course is for anybody who needs to better understand how to speak English like a Native Speaker. It will be especially useful for anybody who is studying with – or about to study with – Talk a Lot materials (i.e. Elementary Books 1-3 or Intermediate Book 1). The theory studied on this course will enable learners to get a lot more out of any Talk a Lot materials.
The course is suitable for learners from Pre-Intermediate level (CEF B1) to Advanced (CEF C1) – and beyond. It can also be adapted for lower-level learners. It goes without saying that zero beginner learners will benefit from learning about word stress and weak forms as they take their first steps with vocabulary and sentence-building in English.
The focus of this course is pronunciation – how we speak. The message of the entire course can be summed up in two words: stress and reduce – learners can improve their pronunciation by stressing the content words in a sentence and reducing the function words – then connecting the syllables together. The aim of the course is to teach learners how to do this. Learners will also develop their listening skills as they discover the techniques that English native speakers routinely use when speaking quickly.
This is not a book to be picked up and read from beginning to end, but rather a collection of practical materials that need to be studied within the context of a course – guided by a teacher. This is not really a self-study book, although I’m sure learners could learn a lot from reading it on their own, and listening to the audio files (see below).
The course is made up of four lessons of theory – Introduction and Basic Principles; Spelling and Sounds; Stress; and Connected Speech. There is also a fifth lesson with practical exercises, which can be repeated as often as you like – or have time for. This book contains the course material for each lesson, which may be given to learners on the course, and which the teacher can use to plan and facilitate the lessons.
The materials in this course are fairly flexible. Each lesson has an outline of the main points, which are described in more detail in boxes, and then followed by examples and practical activities. You don’t have to follow this course as it is written word by word, doing every activity – although you could. You may decide to use the text as an outline, adding extra activities and examples that are more relevant for your learners, and taking away things that they don’t need. The timing of each lesson can vary – it will depend on the level of your learners, and how much time there is available. I would recommend a classroom session of at least 90 minutes for covering one of the theory lessons.