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The Sound of English™ (English Pronunciation) (reports)


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Earlier, The Sound of English II™ was also known as Speak Right!™ or The Right Sound™.

The Sound of English™: Relearning English Pronunciation
11 & 12 February 2012
@ JCI PJ, Sunway Mas Commercial Centre, PJ

This must be the best programme ever, for this topic! I'm glad I went ahead to push for it despite having only 3 participants with 10 days to go. After sending out 2 e-mails to our mailing list, we managed to enlist a total of 9 participants in the end.

At the same time, we faced problems finding a suitable venue as our favourite "haunt" in Sunway had stopped operating. Luckily, we found an alternative somewhere near Kelana Jaya. Though a bit out-of-the-way, it was a nice and cosy place. On the first day, however, they opened the doors late and we had to start almost an hour late (which was compensated by ending late).

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer
Cosy place indeed!

After a preliminary introduction on the importance of using correct English pronunciation, the participants were asked to select and read aloud one of the short stories in the workbook. These readings were recorded.

Then the real work began. On the first day, we managed to cover the segment on plosives, plosives with "s" and the "schwa". On the second day, we covered double plosives, "th", "z" and "v", and long and short vowels. Some participants expressed dissatisfaction at having been taught wrongly in the past. :)

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Attending the course with friends enables one
to practise with them after the course

There were prescribed exercises for each segment. The trainer was very meticulous; he spared no one and and wanted everyone to produce the sounds correctly.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Let me listen to you one by one...

After all the modules had been covered, the participants were asked to re-read the stories that they read earlier and their readings were recorded again. After that, we viewed and compared the "before" and "after" recordings. It was clear that everyone made considerable progress.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation

The class ended with the participants filling up the feedback forms and the presentation of certificates.

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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The Sound of English™: Relearning English Pronunciation
8 & 9 October 2011
@ Qualine Edu Success, Sunway

This time, we managed to recruit a respectable 8 participants who attended the training on their own accord i.e. they approached us to register without me having to ask first. This was certainly a welcome relief for me as the organizer. I believe the surge in interest was partly due to the new and more interesting course title replacing the old ambiguous title.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
8 willing participants with a willing trainer

To start off the class, the trainer Azmi Shahrin showed and proved to the participants that they had been pronouncing many common words wrongly all this time. After making his point, he went into the lesson proper by recording each participant's reading of a chosen passage. Then, laying brick upon brick, Azmi took the participants through each module. The first morning focused on single plosives.

We had pizzas for lunch (Domino's delivery) on the first day since it rained heavily and we couldn't walk to OldTown which was our usual lunch place. After lunch, the class continued in a more informal setting. We looked at double plosives and the "schwa".

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
A more cosy setting
in the afternoon
Dictionaries were
used intensively

On the second day, we looked at other elements of correct pronunciation including the "th", "z" and "v" sounds till the participants were a bit overloaded with the number of corrections they had to make to their usual way of speaking. Hmm.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
I yawn, you yawn, but let's continue...

At the end of the course, the participants read the same passage that they had read earlier and their readings were recorded again. However, we couldn't watch the videos there and then as there was some incompatibility between the video files and the sound system in the room (which was working fine otherwise). Anyway, I managed to upload all the videos to YouTube that very same night (since I'm using UniFI now) and the participants had accessed the "before" and "after" videos the next day to view their progress.

After every good ending, we naturally hope for a repeat of the event. Therefore, we hope that we can conduct this course more often next year.

Bonus photo:

Sandy Tan - Managing Partner of ProSkills Trainers
Sandy Tan "abandoned" the participants during lunch on the second afternoon to attend a kenduri kahwin

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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Speak Right!™ English Pronunciation Programme
15 & 16 January 2011
@ Qualine Edu Success, Sunway

This was our first attempt to resurrect this programme after not having conducted it at all last year (not as a public programme). The catalyst was 2 firm registrations that came in early. In order not to disappoint those who registered, we had to round up more people to make this session a reality. In the end, I manage to get 6 more people to attend including our 3 Associate Trainers. This course was to be part of their training as a trainer!

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Conducive training venue

The class commenced as usual with participants reading a passage and having the reading recorded. Then the trainer Azmi Shahrin took the participants through each module starting with the plosives, moving on to the "schwa" and others. Some of the participants were quite incredulous that they had been doing the wrong thing all this time!

For lunch, we walked a short distance to OldTown White Coffee on both days. It was a welcome break for the mouth and the tongue.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Eat first, we continue later...

We managed to cover the entire syllabus. The only disappointment was that the sound system in the training room didn't work and the participants couldn't watch and compare their "before" and "after" videos on the spot. The videos would be made available to them after the class. In any case, it was clear that everyone made progress.

In my closing speech, I remarked that even if the participants didn't get everything right immediately, at least they were now aware of their past errors. This would go a long way because much progress could then be achieved subconsciously.

Bonus photo:

Sandy Tan - Managing Partner of ProSkills Trainers
Awareness is key

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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The Right Sound™ English Pronunciation Programme
19 & 20 December 2009
@ 29-1, Jalan Kuchai Maju 6, Off Jalan Kelang Lama

It certainly wasn't our best programme of the year, but it was great that we actually conducted it despite having 5 participants only. We kept to our initial plan while the rest of the population were on holiday somewhere...

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Day 1 Day 2

However, I can't say for sure if it wasn't the best programme from the participants' point of view as each one received much personal attention and coaching. We also managed to cover the syllabus fully. I was pleased with the participants' progress over the 2 days.

There was a Philippino among the participants. At first I wasn't quite sure if he would benefit fully from the course as it was tailored to correct the typical pronunciation mistakes made by Malaysian speakers of English. It was interesting to discover that the Philippinos (at least some of them) make roughly the same pronunciation mistakes as we Malaysians do. It turned out that the course was very relevant to our dear participant.

We had much fun with the plosive sounds until all the speakers were exhausted puffing out air! English is a difficult language to speak! We even had enough time for a role-playing activity.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Paul selling supplements to Anita (left), and Renato selling coffee to Aman (right), using correct English pronunciation

As usual, the trainer Azmi Shahrin was excited and passionate about the whole thing. Besides that, I was given the opportunity to conduct the module on th, v and z sounds.

Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer
"Correct pronunciation is very, very important!"

This session was definitely worth having and we must have more sessions next year (we had 5 this year). We must find ways to popularize this course. Most people don't understand what it is all about hence the poor response. Hopefully our graduates can also assist to spread the good news.

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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The Right Sound™ English Pronunciation Programme
15 & 16 August 2009
@ 11C, Jalan SS 21/60, Damansara Utama

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
10 participants was full house!

This was the most smooth sailing programme so far! For the first time ever, we had full registration of 10 participants! And I didn't have to work extra hard to persuade them to sign up. They were more than willing to register because they really wanted to learn. Interestingly, we had 2 students (siblings) join this programme, also for the first time. And despite their being a very small percentage of the population, 2 Singhs joined the class!

Despite the large class, we progressed faster than ever through the syllabus! This was probably due to the participants being fast learners for one reason or another. Because of this, we had more time for additional activities which afforded more practice. In one activity, each participant had to name a favourite personality and then give a self-introduction as if they were that personality. In another activity, the participants had to share their craziest ideas of what they would do if they were given $1 billion. It was really funny. Of course, the participants had to speak with correct pronunciation as they made the presentations.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Sister (19) & brother (16) The Singh "brothers"

This time round, even I had to get into action when 2 participants were sent to me for one-to-one practice. One of them was later selected as the "most improved" participant which made me quite proud.

Basically, I am very happy with this programme. Little stress, great success! Hope this continues...

Bonus photos:

Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer Azmi Shahrin - Public Speaking Coach & Trainer
The charming trainer Azmi Shahrin in action

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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The Right Sound™ English Pronunciation Programme
20 & 21 June 2009
@ 11C, Jalan SS 21/60, Damansara Utama

It's hard to believe that this was already the third public session of this programme since its debut in February. Again, there's the feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment upon its completion.

This round saw 8 participants - 3 Toastmasters, 2 lady managers, 2 English language lecturers and 1 retiree. We are thankful to Politeknik Merlimau, Melaka for sending the two lecturers albeit at very short notice!

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Sitting at the same table, in class and at meal

It turned out that two of the participants had attended programmes on English pronuncation before. However, according to them, the courses were quite "academic" and the lessons didn't quite get into their system. Our programme, however, afforded lots of practices and drills to drill the new way of speaking into them.

Besides the constancy of a good programme, we also benefitted from the constancy of the excellent trainer Azmi Shahrin who flew back from Kuching late on Friday night. I am really amazed at his enthusiasm because he always gives his best under all circumstances. Whether well-rested or exhausted, and whether we are making a lot of money or just breaking even, he would still give his level best to help the participants. This session was no exception.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Explaining, demonstrating, coaching

All in all, I feel happy about this session and I hope that things will get even better.

Bonus photo:

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
English language lecturers from Politeknik Merlimau, Melaka

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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The Right Sound™ English Pronunciation Programme
25 & 26 April 2009
@ Shah's Village Hotel, PJ

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation

This session has reminded me of the harsh reality of life - that we are always multitasking and trying to squeeze out time to learn new skills.

Nine participants were supposed to attend. One day before the programme, one person had to pull out due to a last-minute business trip. Eight persons made it on the first day. However, in the afternoon, one of them (the only secondary school student) had to attend Add Maths tuition while another had to leave for a prior engagement. On the second day, we were left with 7 participants as one person could not turn up at all due to a last-minute change in her class schedule. Another participant had to come in late and leave early as his children were ill.

These interruptions affected the morale of the group in a small way but the situation was well handled by the trainer. In the end, the 7 participants who graduated had achieved something to be proud of.

The programme was an eye-opener for all. The dictionary was well used as participants had to check up on the pronunciation of so many words. They saw with their own eyes that they had been speaking the wrong way in all these years! Well, with practice and persistence, it's still possible to relearn and rewire...

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Checking the dictionary...

So, despite my earlier intention of cancelling all future sessions due to poor response, I guess we will continue for the sake of individuals who are still keen to learn.

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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The Right Sound™ English Pronunciation Programme
28 February & 1 March 2009
@ Shah's Village Hotel, PJ

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation

The debut programme was attended by 8 participants. Many of them travelled long distances to make it - a headmaster from Ipoh, two English language teachers from Seremban and Kuala Kangsar respectively, another participant from Kuantan, and a last minute replacement who happened to be visiting from Sarawak.

Being the one who designed the course, I was relieved that the modules turned out to be just nice (not too long or too short). The trainer Azmi Shahrin did a great job at making all the parts fit together. The participants improved a lot in the short time we had. They were amazed that they didn't know they had been speaking English the wrong way for so many years. Well, it's not too late to change! We enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation The Sound of English: Relearning English Pronunciation
Cikgus from Seremban (left) & K. Kangsar (right)

Actually, the two English language teachers were "spies" who came to check out whether the programme would be beneficial to the students of their respective schools. Given the very positive reviews from them, we look forward to conduct the programme at the two schools in the very near future. The experience gained in this programme will also help us make minor amendments to improve the syllabus. We do hope that Malaysians will realize more and more the importance of this still little-touched subject.

~ Reported by Sandy Tan

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