Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

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the1whoknocks
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Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby the1whoknocks » Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:16 am

Two questions:

-1. Apart from Assimil and Englishpod101, are there any resources, courses or otherwise, that you would recommend to someone learning ‘American’ English?

-2. Do you know of anything that would help with pronunciation? Sadly, there is no FSI English course, and I think they’re a bit beyond Pimsleur.

They would be used by a group of teenagers/ young adults who I would estimate to have a B1/ high A2 level of comprehension; we can talk freely about everyday things, and their responses (in Spanish) suggest comprehension. Although, I do limit slang and try to speak clearly. Their productive skills are probably still in the A category.

Also, Spanish is their native language.

Thanks!
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby neumanc » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:32 am

The single best learning/studying resource for American English would be ESLPod (English as a second language podcast), I think. There are literally hundreds of lessons (nearly a thousand), each consisting of a short dialog about everyday issues spoken very slowly, the explanation of vocabulary, collocations, and idiomatic expressions in simple English, and then the same dialog in normal speed. The lessons are about 15 minutes each. There are free transcripts, which are also included in the mp3-files as song lyrics. The lessons are very practically oriented and useful for daily life. They are perfect for a A2/B1-level of comprehension.

A somewhat smaller resource would be Assimil Los Americanos (with CDs: 9782700520880), a 40-lesson text about different aspects relevant to understand American culture and civilization. The lessons are spoken with different American accents, including Lousiana and Texan accents, for example. The audio is more than two and a half hours long. The book seems still to be readily available. The mixed-media products with CDs or cassettes may be purchased second-hand. Another way to acquire the audio would be to buy the French or German base equivalent ("Assimil Les Americains" or "Assimil Die Amerikaner"), which are more easily available.
Last edited by neumanc on Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby zenmonkey » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:46 am

About 95% of netflix is in American English.

Podcasts:
NPR
This American Life
Criminal
S-Town
99% Invisible
Radiolab
CarTalk
Serial
Surprisingly Awesome
Fresh Air
NPR Radio News

For teens those podcasts alone might be a little heavy, but you can have them investigate for a podcast that covers their interests. Sports, travel, etc...
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby aokoye » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:59 pm

The booklist for my university's Intensive English Language Program is here. Note at the bottom there's a book that they use specifically for pronunciation called Clear Speech from the Start. They also have a list of internet resources including some on pronunciation here.

Depending on how old the kids are I think most if not all of the podcasts Zenmonkey listed would generally be ok. Car talk would be fine as long as they were actually interested in cars (or at least amusing banter about cars) and you could always listen to specific episodes of This American Life or Radiolab before suggesting said episodes (for reference I started listening to to TAL when I was maybe 14 and I don't remember ever not listening to Car Talk). TAL also generally has content warnings within the episodes for parents to change the channel if they don't want their kid hearing about xyz. I'd have to check if that was the case in their online synopsis as well.

I would also suggest most of the Slate podcasts but perhaps more specifically Hang Up and Listen (about sports) and the Culture Gabfest.
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby smallwhite » Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:05 pm

English learners in Hong Kong often talk about "VOA". I don't know which one they mean:
https://learningenglish.voanews.com/
https://www.voanews.com/
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby the1whoknocks » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:38 pm

Thanks a lot, guys!

We met on Wednesday, and I shared your podcast suggestions with them. One of the kids is a car fanatic and has already been asking questions about things he’s heard from Cartalk – It’s hard for him to understand, though.

Not surprisingly, most of these kids think of hours cramming and conjugating when they think of language learning. Sure, work and time is necessary, but for now, I think helping them to find fun ways to interact with English is how I can best serve them.

So far, I’ve:

-1. Suggested we work though a basic grammar course. – For now, it’s Language Transfer – English, or Inglés para Hispanohablantes as it is known on YouTube. After getting through this, we’ll move on to something more comprehensive, and with dialogs.

-2. Asked what series they’d like to watch – Interestingly, they have probably watched more American series than I have, but in Spanish. They’ve been asked to create a list of three series they would like to watch. As a group, we’ll decide on one to watch, meet once or twice a week, and as a group discuss 5 questions they would have prepared regarding the series.

-3. Given them a starting place for podcasts they might like - They’ve been asked to just listen to the podcasts, not study them. A few of them are at that stage where they understand a lot, but their confidence is shaky. I'd just like to help them identify listening resources that will not add to their frustration ... and emphasize that not having 100% comprehension is OK, for now. The important thing is just being able to listen.

-4. Just being available – The good thing is that they always have some very interesting questions about English. I’ve committed to being available to answer, if they commit to having the questions.

We're still looking for resources, particularly podcasts with transcripts. I’ll post here with any resources we ‘end up’ using. Thanks again for your suggestions!

Edit: Spelling
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby dgc1970 » Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:30 am

I'm not sure if this works outside of North America but I've heard good things about "Connect with English". He is a link that includes the videos and a link to practice questions:

https://www.learner.org/series/cwe/section1/index.html

This is British English but it's fun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a339H_aqXx0&t=540s

http://www.channel4learning.com/sites/e ... notes.html

They may like this course/book:

https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Ingles- ... ate+ingles

https://www.amazon.com/Esencial-Avanzad ... ate+ingles
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby snowflake » Sat Jun 24, 2017 3:04 pm

A chat partner who is specifically targeting American English has been using this site to help modify his accent and pronunciation;
http://rachelsenglish.com/

Good luck!
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Re: Resources for learners of ‘American’ English?

Postby Zegpoddle » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:07 am

The intensive English program I worked at until three years ago required all students beyond the intermediate stage to buy an access card for a temporary subscription to http://www.EnglishCentral.com. At $15/month, it's not a cheap resource, but it is authentic English, mostly but not exclusively American, spoken by real people including recognizable celebrities and public figures. Every word spoken by the speaker in each video clip appears below the video frame in a super-accurate transcript (added by a real person, not by an algorithm), and each word lights up as and when the speaker says it. Every video also has a "slowdown" feature where you can slow the speaker's rate of speech down without causing any distortion or lowering in pitch. Used together, these two tools do a magical job at helping learners assimilate, process, and eventually produce rapid spoken English. Users can also speak along with the video and get feedback, convert the transcript into a cloze or dictation activity, and select some other learning functions as well. (I must add that their speech recognition capability is light years more accurate and helpful than the atrocious Rosetta Stone, which I had to test once as our school's computer lab director. RS insisted that I was mispronouncing the word "diamond" even though I am a native speaker of American English. I was only able to get past that screen by distorting the first vowel sound in that word until I sounded like a foreign speaker whose native language did not have that diphthong at all.)

I was impressed at how quickly English Central kept uploading tons of new videos every week at seven different levels. You couldn't keep up with all the content that kept appearing, which is a real rarity in most computer-assisted language learning. It really motivated some of our students to work on their listening comprehension and pronunciation in a way that no other resource did. I will never forget seeing a student from Kuwait very determinedly reciting every word of a speech of Barack Obama's right along with the President, reproducing Obama's speech patterns so exactly that it made me and another teacher giggle.

If the same company came out with a SpanishCentral (or German, or Russian, or Mandarin), I would subscribe in a heartbeat (but not before I had reached an intermediate level). I don't know why this approach is not being applied to any other languages. I guess the technology must be proprietary, or the company is aggressively defending its patent against anything even remotely similar. By not expanding into other languages, I think they are really passing up a potential goldmine. (And yes, I wish it were less expensive, but I feel that way about everything.)
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