Karen Halliday

 

Karen Halliday

Karen Halliday has been assisting on our courses for the last five years and your feedback has told us just how much you’ve appreciated her kind attention and helpfulness.

Karen is now giving follow up sessions in Standard English conversation for previous Speak English Clearly course participants who would like further practice, or just a refresher at an affordable price. Karen will come to your home or office.

Karen has been trained in RP pronunciation by Frances. Contact her at: karen@maxyourvoice.com

Cheryl Cole’s Accent

 

Cheryl Cole

So Cheryl Cole’s been axed from the American X Factor on the grounds that her accent is unintelligible to an American audience. American audiences are notorious for not understanding regional English accents, that much is true. I’ve been instructed by producers of films for the American market, to soften regional accents and make sure that the actors’ regional accents aren’t too strong. Trainspotting had subtitles when it was screened in the USA.

I can accept that a judge on a TV show needs to be easily heard and understood both by the contestants and audiences. However, it doesn’t ring true that Cheryl would be sacked because of not being understood. What was stopping Fox from hiring a discreet voice coach with integrity for Cheryl? Just to make sure that she’s clearly understood?

If it’s alright for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to have a voice coach, it’s surely alright for our Cheryl. The Geordie accent is particularly attractive and very much part of her personality and branding. This is show business after all. No, there is more to this than is apparent. Anyone who’s seen recent photos of Cheryl with Simon Callow will have seen the body language of estrangement.

Cheryl should take a leaf out of J-Lo’s book. Can you imagine anyone treating J-Lo badly and getting away with it? I think not.

Training via the web

 

Skype sessions

Our website training facilites are in development. We’re in development on making a DVD which many of you have requested and we’ll be able to bring you inter-active audio/visual training in the future. We are training more people over Skype. You can access Skype booking details by clicking on the courses button at the top of this page and scrolling down that page and clicking on the Skype Training link. It’s always good to have a Skype training session before coming on a Speak English Clearly course and that’s why we include one Skype training session free for every Speak English Clearly participant.

Please email info@maxyourvoice.com if you’re interested in either of these courses or would like to be notified of our Webinars. Call +44 (0) 20 85422777 to speak to us.

Paloma Faith is Mockneyed

 

Paloma Faith

Caw Blimey the beautiful singer Paloma Faith has been complaining that people have been taking the rise out of her cockney accent. One of her Professors at Central Saint Martins, where she trained in theatre and stage design, used to mock her pronunciation and she’s been sounding off about it.

A spokesman from the University of the Arts London, which Central Saint Martins is part of , said: The university is home to a diverse community of staff and students from many different backgrounds, and that diversity is a big part of our strength, so we take Paloma’s comments very seriously. We oppose any kind of discrimination and our teaching staff undergo “fairness in selecting students’ training to ensure a level playing field for all applicants”.

Let’s hope that the “fairness in selecting students’ training” extends to when they are training the students. Too many students get confidence knocked out of them for the way they speak. In the arts it’s more likely that students will take it on the chin, notice that it gets them noticed and start using it as part of their image.

This has happened with people like David Hockney, Janet Street-Porter and Tracy Emin. This too may be happening with Paloma Faith, who brands celebrity culture as “silly” and “superficial”. However, sensitive students, can show an outer strength and suffer inside when their accents have been mocked.

I have 2 lecturers who come to me for training who started “dumbing down” their voice and speech when they were made fun of by their tutors at University.

I would always advise that it’s not your accent but the way you use your accent that matters. If you’re going to be a defiant cocky cockney then people will hear that in your accent. If you’re a reasonable speaker and listener then the chances are people won’t notice your accent – and if they do – then you shouldn’t be wasting your time talking to them. Most accents, if they aren’t over strong, are very attractive.

For those who have to do business internationally, it’s important to make sure their spoken English is clearly and easily understood. Americans for instance, are notorious in not understanding English regional accents, which is one reason while dialect coaches on films being shown in America are asked to make sure that accents aren’t too strong.

It’s important to have a clear enough English accent in video conferences between for instance Australian and Indian business people. No matter how brilliant your software team is, they aren’t going to go too far if they can’t communicate in English. This is why voice coaches like me at Max Your Voice, work with people on Accent Neutralisation.

Some people in politics and the legal professions for instance, want to have their original standard English accent restored to them after a sojourn abroad or want to attain a standard English accent. At Max Your Voice, we do both, with care and sensitivity – and a lot of laughs on the way.

Rhythmic and Vocal Profile of English Spoken Today

 

Rythmic Profile of English

One of the more important aspects of getting some speakers of English as a second language to express themselves more clearly in English is rhythm. Every language, including English, has its own rhythm – some languages acquire a very marked rhythm where words are strongly stressed within groups. In most languages the words are organised so that the rhythmic stress falls on the most important words, i.e. the key words expressing the content of what we’re saying.

However, a problem shared by many who do not speak English as a first language is that they are tempted to use the rhythmic stress of their own language when they are expressing themselves in English. Such rhythms may make the English language more comfortable for them when transferring their thoughts into speech. The rhythm can work well when the stress falls on the nouns or keywords. The problem arises when the stress is made on the personal pronouns – ‘his’, ‘her’, ‘their’, ‘its’ or on the definite article ‘the’ or the indefinite articles ‘a’ or ‘an’.

When this happens, the listener has to decipher the key messages in the speech. It can give diverse messages to the listener and these can often be humorous. Everyone likes to laugh, but when you’re at the centre of the joke and the joke is about the way you communicate, it can be hurtful and disruptive to your confidence and progress.

More seriously, the messages you put across can also be damaging. The worst possible message that wrongly applied stress can send during diplomatic business meetings, for example, is: “I don’t really want you to understand what I’m saying, so I’m stressing all the words that aren’t important to distract you from those that are.”

Max Your Voice takes account of your entire Vocal Profile. The importance for communication of all the different aspects of your voice and speech and the way it’s developed and the way you use it – all of these are addressed in all voice and speech training given at Max Your Voice.

Our Speak English Clearly course was developed over 2 years with the help of an Educational Psychologist. It was tested with 30 different clients who shared 15 different languages. While the structure of the course remains the same as when it was first launched, the Speak English Clearly course has developed along with the changes and influences to spoken English over the last 8 years.

For more information on our courses email info@maxyourvoice.com or phone +44(0)20 85422777

Fern Bitton’s Interviewing & Presenting

 

Fern Britton

Sad to hear that Fern may have her afternoon television show axed. Her interviewing and presenting skills are really good – better than the other contenders for this spot: Peter Andre, etc.

When you watch and listen to a Fern interview, you know that she’s interested in the person or people she’s interviewing, beyond the notes that have been handed to her by her researchers.

The long term Woman’s Hour presenter on radio 4, Jenny Murray, has the same talent. Although we can’t see her we can hear the real “wanting to know” interest in her voice when she’s interviewing people.

Scott James on Radio 1 has the same skill, as does Dermot o’Leary. Lorraine Kelly on morning TV has it in abundance. This ability to listen with care and gently probe the interviewer without unnerving them is a wonderful gift and makes for really good viewing and listening.

It’s the production team and the programme format that has let Fern down. They’re, out of touch with what viewers want. Who would want to tweet a programme with an action for someone who just happens to be in in Oxford? No wonder Fern’s looking and sounding uncomfortable.

Source: The Guardian

Frances Parkes in Shanghai

 

Frances Parkes in Shangai

Frances Parkes went to Shanghai in September to train in Voice and Presentation. The course ran over 4 days and incorporated the ‘Speak English Clearly’ programme.

It was a great success with the participants who were involved in the steel industry or commodities. A special thanks to Cheng Hui who did arranged the course and worked on camera.

She will be taking the course back to Shanghai, India and Europe.

Mor more information, call +44 (0) 20 85422777 or email info@maxyourvoice.com

BBC World Service

 

William Hague

Gung-ho William Hague has caused the BBC World Service to axe five of its language services. He says that BBC programmes can be accessed online. Really?

A bit of a struggle to follow a programme when it’s not in your own language and even if your English is good, there’s no comparison to listening to some excellently researched and presented programme in your own language or dialect. The BBC World Service is known for the quality of its unbiased journalism.
We are a small country much smaller than France, why can’t we keep what we’re good at and known for? He’s sending out a poor us voice message to the rest of the world. The money that’s saved by axing the jobs related to the 5 language services will be as nothing to the money lost in this country’s future along with the 30 million listeners.

The reputation of the BBC world service has never been better. Mr Hague is from Yorkshire so what‘s happened to his Yorkshire nowse?

Mistletoe, Mulled Wine & Urban Voices

 

Vanessa Feltz

There were whoops and standing ovations at The carol concert in aid of the Rainbow Trust tonight.

The golden glow of the inside of St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge was the setting for an event that brought in the Christmas season. Well warmed through on mulled wine, apple juice and mince pies, we all packed into the church and were treated to some great music from EL8 and Urban Voices. They sang mine, friends Isabel and Ruby and Fearne Cotton’s favourite “All I want for Christmas” which was better in the raw than Maria Carey’s.

There was an address by Anne Harris, Director of Care at the Rainbow Trust, which was a pleasure to listen to. She told a story of the work at Rainbow Trust with a couple of examples of their work. Lightly and seemingly effortlessly told she engaged us throughout a five minute talk without an autocue, never looking at notes and only once lost the rhythm by going too fast.

Vanessa Feltz read The Twelve Thank You Notes of Christmas from Emily to Edward with such fantastic timing it had us rolling in the aisles. She has such a powerful and clear voice. She’d be great doing stand-up. When I was on my way to the BBC Radio London studio one morning the taxi driver who was driving me spent all his time talking about her and her show.

Sometimes it was a tirade against her sometimes in praise of her cleverness. She harnesses her audience and rides with them. She’s one of the few people who can seamlessly talk for hours, switching from subject to subject without losing vocal energy and without losing her audience. She has wonderful thought to voice clarity. I wonder if she talks out loud when she’s writing?

Saturday 4th.

So Arsenal have won. Well I’m happy but I know a few people who aren’t. Normally I don’t like to work unless I’m on the job so to speak, but I have to say I loved the way Gary Lineker uses his voice and who was the commentator of the match? Was it John Lotts? I thought he was wonderful. A slightly spread ‘s’ which far from marring his commentary, sexed it up.

How to do Accents

 

How to do Accents
As well as giving courses, we like to attend courses to keep up to date on our training and research methods. Richard Ryder and I went on a course given by Edda Sharpe and Jan Haydn Rowles called “How to do Accents”.

It was fun and great to be on the receiving end of a voice course given by 2 people who really know their stuff. We came away refreshed and buoyed up. It was good to know the see it, hear it, feel approach that we use, is also a technique favoured by them.

This course was aimed at voice coaches who train actors, which we all do at Max Your Voice, but the knowledge crosses over when training people in all jobs.

The Voice, Speech and Communication Specialists