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Elocution lessons for our American daughter?

(260 Posts)
VintageRainBoots Mon 19-Nov-12 03:49:19

Our five year old daughter will soon start school in the UK. She was born in US, has only lived in the US, and has so far been educated in the US. As a result, she speaks with an American accent.

My concern is that there are a few sounds that she still needs to work on, and moving to a different country with different speech patterns may complicate things for her. For example, she cannot pronounce the "r", as in "star" or "very." Could elocution lessons in the UK help her pronounce words the American way? That is, can a British speech therapist help her learn to say the American "star" or will she be taught the British version (which sounds a lot like "stah" to our uncivilized American ears)?

In addition, she's only recently mastered the "th" sound (before, she was approximated "th" with a "d" so that "them" was pronounced "dem"). However, I hear a lot of folks around town (and more often in London) pronouncing "th" with an "f" or "v" rather than the American "th". We spent a fair amount of time helping her with her "th" sounds; I would hate to see all that work amount to naught if she's in a class with students who use "v" or "f" instead.

So, will elocution lessons help her?

Along those same lines, does anyone have a recommendation for a speech therapist or elocution coach near Guildford?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Nov-12 22:38:18

>FWIW, I don't know anyone who replaces it with 'f'...

lots of children do - free instead of three. It can persist longer than most childish substitutions, into adults even - my DD still does it quite a bit. Its not something she's learned from anyone- not me or DH, not the local (NW)accent.

It does happen 'dahn sarf' in adults too.

Devora Tue 20-Nov-12 22:54:18

This thread has made me so nostalgic for my glottal stop. I used to have a fine one; so fine that the university language lab recorded it for posterity grin

Sadly, I lost it when I got posh. But I did see it as a very fine expression of my South East London cultural heritage. Perhaps if OP's dd acquires one we can organise a swap grin

madwomanintheattic Tue 20-Nov-12 23:02:27

A glottal stop swap! grin

Mn could advertise it on local.


BooksandaCuppa Tue 20-Nov-12 23:17:06

Grimma I meant to say 'any adults' - I genuinely don't but then I'm not 'down south'...Also no glottal stops round here in the middles of words but sometimes at the end...Nigh' for Night etc

Talkin - I get that but somehow assumed OP was referring to a 'lower class' way of dropping 'r's since all the other things she refers to are also considered to be. You know what I mean!

Just seems a bit weird to assume that in moving to another country you would pick up all the differences/deviations from received pronunciation there are regardless of which part of the country/(for want of a better word) class of person they are common in (like me thinking if I moved to America my dc would simultaneous pick up both a Brooklyn and Texan accent?!)

BooksandaCuppa Tue 20-Nov-12 23:19:21

Sorry, Grimma to be more clear, it is of course a common thing to persist in childhood (the 'th' as 'f') but to imply that the whole adult population of a whole country pronounce it as such, unlike the "correct" Americans is just bizarre (OP not you...)

Devora Tue 20-Nov-12 23:19:35

Honestly, madwoman, I sound like the frickin queen. That's got to be worth something.

Pyrrah Thu 22-Nov-12 15:08:29

Devora - that is seriously fantastic! Could you perhaps borrow the recording and practice a bit?

Otherwise I can heartily recommend DD's SE London primary - it's taken her a whole 7 weeks to acquire a superb version. grin

SoldeInvierno Fri 23-Nov-12 09:45:43

I find ways of pronouncing words can slightly vary even from school to school. My son moved schools when he was 7, all within the same town, and within a couple of months he has stopped the glottal stop and other "mispronunciations". Now, when we meet with his friends from his first school, I can really hear the difference.

On the other hand, I am foreign and he has never picked up my pronunciation errors. He can hear them and he makes a very good job at immitating me when he wants to, but he wouldn't speak like that.

So, I think your daughter will pick up the accent from her peers and that's unavoidable. Have you picked a school for her yet? Have you heard the teachers/children talking? If so, that's what your daughter will probably sound like in a year's time.

AbbyR1973 Fri 23-Nov-12 11:44:55

There appear to be 2 issues here. Accent and correct pronunciation.

I am British. I would never drop the t in words like "letter." I agree there are areas of the country where this is quite common. It is a total pet hate of mine so I'm with you on that one. Also I think it can be counterproductive for spelling if words ate not pronounced correctly. DS1 has started school and clearly some children speak with dropped t's. He went through a phase of occasionally doing it himself. I point it out to him and now he doesn't do it. He didn't need Elocution.
As much as children spend time at school they also spend lots of time at home. If during home time there is a lot of conversation and reading aloud of stories by parents, I think this can counteract some of the less desirable language habits picked up from peers.
The "ar" sound in "star" is different. The "ar" sound in phonics is taught as a long "ahh" sound at school. This is not incorrect pronunciation of English and children are taught the graphemes representation of the phoneme is "ar" What you are describing there is accent. It shod have no bearing on spelling- if I ask DS1 (4 years old) how to write an "ahh" sound in a word he would say "ar"
Spelling will presumably be interesting given the alternative spellings in American English colour vs color etc. :-)

AbbyR1973 Fri 23-Nov-12 11:56:25

PS on the "th" front school should actually help a lot. It is very common/normal for young children to pronounce th as f. The vast majority of British adults don't do this. It is tricky to master in early speech. In Jolly phonics the both the hard th as in the and this and soft th as in bath are taught as pretending to be a clown poking a tongue out of the mouth which is the action required to produce a th sound rather than teeth against lips to produce a f.
I think phonics at school will actually address quite a lot of your worries without having to spend a fortune on elocution.
By the way can you even get American English elocution- I would have thought elocution would result in The Queen'sEnglish.

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