Symphony of Science

Recent Posts

Die Grünen hybrider Kongress 2021

Hybrid courses

In the summer of 2021, I had the pleasure of attending a hybrid congress in Berlin: Die Grünen were kicking off their election campaign. The

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It’s the end of summer, we’re back home from long days in the sun and on the water, and it’s back to classes and many

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Talk at BESIG 2021 for Cornelsen

Managing your hybrid course with Cornelsen’s Basis for Business Summary This 30-minute talk aimed to give Business English trainers an overview of lessons learned in

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This wonderful video is not just a joy to ponder…

It also shows perfectly, by engineering natural speech into song, how rhythmic English is, and how speakers of English in the UK, US and Down Under will stress the content words and separate what they say into phrases. This is something that my students from other parts of the world will generally not do. They generally use syllable-timing, or giving every syllable the same weight. Stress timing by contrast makes us blend the sounds in the unstressed parts, so when we speak fast it’s like switching into high gear, and we leave those who don’t use our stress timing behind. Because we’re so used to them, those stress patterns are key to how we understand each other, and failing to use them causes intelligibility problems in the UK, US and Down Under. Sure, we can attune our ears to other accents, and we need to, because English is our lingua franca. But it is a hurdle to take.

Rap uses syllable timing rather than stress-timing: Stressing every syllable in its own right makes it easier to write a rhythmic poem. Standard English rhythms by contrast are very different, if you’ll just listen…


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