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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?

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.

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. :-)

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.

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

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

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

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...)

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?!)

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

A glottal stop swap! grin

Mn could advertise it on local.


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

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.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 20-Nov-12 22:21:16

"Very" when said in Sloane Square is pronounced "vahy" and "yah" will be later on in the sentence

BooksandaCuppa Tue 20-Nov-12 22:15:54

Still struggling to imagine how a 'British' person says 'very' without the 'r' in it?

Or how the correct use of the 'th' sound is somehow 'American'? FWIW, I don't know anyone who replaces it with 'f'...

saintlyjimjams Tue 20-Nov-12 21:45:19

Yeah I know. For ds1 I think the price would be worth it as I often panic as he dangles over rock pools with 6 grands worth of communication aid dangling from his neck, but 300 dollars isn't exactly a snip.

wigglybeezer Tue 20-Nov-12 18:26:22

I am going to be a bit controversial here and tell you that I managed to get a speech therapist to do some work with DS2 on pronouncing his "th" sounds. She was seeing him because he has Social communication issues but I asked her to do some work on his sounds as he has a wee bit if a lisp and his mispronunciations were affecting his spelling ( still do in fact). She grudgingly agreed but implied that I should accept it as it was the local way of speaking, despite DS2 (as is common with children with S&C issues) otherwise sounding like little lord Fauntleroy as he completely failed to pick up the local Scottish accent.
It didn't work by the way, his brother cals him posh boy and he still says "f" for "th".

stopcallingmefrank Tue 20-Nov-12 18:00:46

I love how this thread has gone from the 5 year old's elocution lessons through George W Bush and Margaret Thatcher to disabled kids' communication devices. The joys of MN!

slug Tue 20-Nov-12 16:21:33

The Ki-nig-uts pronouncenation comes from here

wentshopping Tue 20-Nov-12 16:00:56

eek $299.99 shock

wentshopping Tue 20-Nov-12 15:59:58

yes, saintly, that is what I was thinking about but I think it is v. expensive.

saintlyjimjams Tue 20-Nov-12 15:57:34


saintlyjimjams Tue 20-Nov-12 15:57:19

Not at the moment, although they are brining out unity (which ds1 uses) onto the iPad and I will get it to use at the beach etc. I think it's already available in the States and you can buy quite a few different covers.

It's this:

I think ds1 has access to more symbols from the front screen - need to check, but it looks a good back up

wentshopping Tue 20-Nov-12 15:54:41

Yes mad she didn't rise to my comment about the drive-thru lady understanding when I droppped the "please " from the end of my sentence.

wentshopping Tue 20-Nov-12 15:53:05

Yes, me too. Have you got any speech apps on an ipad? I would like something really portable for dd, but she cannot use a touch screen with great accuracy - accurate enough to play a game, but not to say something quickly. Apparently there is something coming out with a frame to fit over the ipad screen to divide up the buttons.

madwomanintheattic Tue 20-Nov-12 15:50:58

Went, it used to make me laugh that the signing started with singing and nursery rhymes... Because clearly you need Old MacDonald before 'milk please' or 'I need a wee!'


I was a little upset that the op continued the wind up after I mentioned sn earlier, but you can't stop a good joke.

<waits for professionally offended comment>

I'm not, btw. I can see that it would be a good wind up on a Sunday afternoon. And there really are folk that are so precious out there, which is why it works.

saintlyjimjams Tue 20-Nov-12 15:48:26

Unity appears bonkers at first sight, but ds1 just clicked with it from the beginning. We'd tried things like proloquo2go before but the category stuff just doesn't really do it for him. But unity? I didn't expect the trial to work but from the first introduction he was happy with it. I think because it's fast. I am now often to be found asking him to show me how to say something grin

wentshopping Tue 20-Nov-12 15:45:29

Oh, absolutely, saintly, I know just to hear our kids say anything is a gift. Fancy moaning about what accent they might pick up. grin
DD3 has worked her way through various devices - a Mercury before this one, which was head switch operated, and we also have a tango for "fun" (- that seems so bizarre, to give a child the means to talk only in certain situations) She also uses Unity - we were told that Unity is the one language (for devices) that has endured while others have come and gone, and while it doesn't seem to make sense when you first see the icons, as soon as you "get it" it is easy. DD3's ecopoint had some problems a while ago, and the guy on the company helpdesk.... was an ecopoint user - how cool is that!
Sorry for hijack OP, but for those of us dealing with real speech difficulties your post appears so frivolous.

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