This article was originally posted on my website’s blog
I recently surpassed 2000 classes taught on italki. This was an exciting milestone for me and one that made me reflect on a few things: how I got here, how I’m doing, and how I want to take things further.
How I got here
It took me a year on italki to reach 1000 classes, and then another half a year to reach 2000. When I started out, I taught all types of English (conversational, general, and accent reduction) but along the way I found that the demand for my accent reduction classes was so high that now I teach almost exclusively accent reduction classes.
I’ve had to increase my prices as my calendar filled up, and I haven’t accepted new students for a few months except when they directly reached out to me, either after current students recommended they take my class, or through finding me on the internet. My calendar is usually quite comfortably booked a couple weeks in advance in general, thanks to this.
How I’m doing
Students tell me they really enjoy the classes because I can take complex scientific, phonetic and phonological concepts and break it down into layman’s terms. Indeed, my regular students have taken 20 or more classes with me on average and have greatly improved the production of major sound problems, such that they now do it correctly without even thinking about it. In other words, it’s become muscle memory.
I think part of may teaching skills come from my background. I grew up in a multilingual environment and loved learning languages. After getting my linguistics degree with a focus on phonetics and phonology, I helped out to teach English to foreigners at language groups. Besides this, I also worked for many years as a UX designer, which helped me understand how users thought and how to communicate with them.
Because of this, I can avoid jargon and instead teach students in ways that make sense to them, such as using examples from their own languages to teach them to pronounce the correct English sounds. This multilingual knowledge and design-thinking philosophy is probably the biggest thing that differentiates me from other accent reduction coaches or speech therapists.
How I want to take things further
In the past year, I’ve been creating lessons and syllabi tailored to speakers of different languages. This is because having certain languages as mother tongues means those speakers have common problems among them. The lessons and courses I’ve created help me target and modify the speech, pronunciation, and accent problems my students have.
This year, however, my goal will be to create more supplemental accent practice materials. One of the keys to improving your accent is consistent and deliberate practice. For this reason I have been creating and posting accent-related content to my YouTube channel and my Instagram account. My hope is that my students can use these materials to regularly practice with the help of my annotated transcripts and short tips.
Some extra materials I’m planning to create in the upcoming year and near future include the following:
1) My Say It Right Instagram series
Where I take commonly mispronounced words and help my followers identify and fix the problems.
2) My Accent Tips Instagram series
where I will explain some linguistic concept or pattern and help my students with a whole swathe of words that fall into that category.
3) Accent practice videos on YouTube
This is where I take real examples of speech and annotate it so people can follow along and train their mouth muscles.
4) Shadowing practice stories on Instagram
I post these short videos of less than a minute in length to help remind my viewers to follow along and practice their accent.
These are my current plans. Do you have any suggestions?
Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!