The voices behind the conversations

The voices behind the conversations

When we made Nice Talking With You, we wanted to get a professional sound that was different from standard textbooks. You know, professional voice actors, standing at the mic, script in hand — they have a sound that’s so overly familiar, you’d swear all the publishers use the same group of people. How about something fresh for the teachers who have to listen over & over?

So, I thought it would be cool to have teachers do all the voices. That’ll get a unique sound. I’m privileged to know some terribly talented teachers who have a flair for performing and a clear, credible voice. And so, let me introduce the voices behind the conversations in Nice Talking With You 1 & 2:

Suzanne Bonn from Nanzan University
Paul Crane from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies
Brad Deacon from Nanzan University
Jane Fancher from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies
Louise Haynes from Nagoya City University
Matt Lott from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies
Sarah Mulvey from Nanzan University
Tom Kenny from Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Some of these faces and names will no doubt be familiar to teachers throughout Japan. As you can see, it’s kind of a Nagoya-foreign teachers thang goin’ on. It was great fun to do! Rob Hewer (also from Nanzan University) was the audio engineer for our Nagoya recording session, and he did a great job in the studio. Listen to any of the “Conversation Listening” files on the mp3 download pages on the Nice Talking With You website.

When students are listening, it might be fun for them to know that the actors in these professional recordings are teachers, just like you.

Using listening transcripts in ESL classes

Using listening transcripts in ESL classes

I don’t know for sure if all the tech advances we’ve seen over the last few years (or even the last few months!) will help us make our students better language learners, but I am sure that the ability to access classroom listening material out-of-class has to be a move in the right direction. Doesn’t matter if students are listening on line in the school’s media center, on their PC at home, or to the files on their iPod — any listening that’s done outside of class means more time can be spent in class exploring other learning opportunities.

That’s not to say that helping students improve their listening skills in class is a waste of time. It’s a terrific idea to check their answers to their listening homework and then spend a couple of minutes helping those who missed a few understand why they got the wrong answer.

15+ years ago, we could play the cassette back, maybe slow it down. 10 years ago, we could accompany that with an overhead camera shot of the tapescript from the teacher’s manual. But now we can do them both one better. With a scrolling script of the dialog, their terrific teacher can give students both the visual and audio support they need from to understand why they got it wrong.

Take a look at these two example videos. Do you think the fonts and styles and size are adequate enough for classroom display? Is the black background too much of a downer?

Real Conversations — NTWY1, Unit 1
Real Conversations — NTWY2, Unit 2

If teachers have these scrolling scripts to show when they need them, will you use them? If so, should we do the same for all the scripts in the teacher’s manual? Was there anything you especially liked about the form of these, or anything that irked you? Any comment you leave below would help me out a lot!

Audio and scripts (c) Cambridge University Press