My learning experiences: what works and what doesn't


I am learning two things now: how to dance beautifully and speak Italian. I have a private dance tutor who is an incredible dancer. As a publisher of Get Rid of your Accent  apps and books and RP (Received Pronunciation, in the past known as Queen's English or BBC English) I always strive to learn what works and what doesn't for students who are trying to learn new skills. In this blog I want to share with you my knowledge about teaching and learning processes.

Learning to dance is very similar to learning to speak with a different accent. When I learn to dance I learn how to move my body the way I want. This is exactly what you learn during accent reduction: the first thing you learn is how to move your speech organs in the correct way. In our apps and books, the number one thing is to make it very clear how to place your speech organs correctly, secondly you pronounce the sound on its own, then in words, sentences and verses. It is a process, in which we break it up into small parts and our students learn very fast, because it s simple and clear.

On the contrary, my dance tutor tends to show me a very difficult routine and asks me to repeat it. I cannot do it and then she shows it to me again in a very fast way, and I that doesn't help at all. When I asked her to show me little moves slowly I succeeded. I conclude: the number one thing in learning is to break the thing you learn into small parts and master each part  separately. If you rush, you are likely to make a mistakes.

I've  just came back from Italy where I did a 3 weeks course in Italian. During my course we were studying grammar and hardly had very little practice. By the middle of my course in Italy I realised that I speak worse than before. Prior to this course, I practiced a lot of speaking, listening and repeating and may-be my grammar was not as good, but I was more fluent. In my opinion, the number two thing in learning a new skill is 10% of theory and 90% of practice. Unfortunately, many tutors do it the other way around, 90% of theory which makes them speak most of the time, and 10% of practice for students. That is probably why our accent apps and books are very popular, because we follow these two rules and our students get the results instantly.

Good luck with your study,


Olga Smith

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