Elliott Giles has been teaching pronunciation on Skype and YouTube since 2013. With his specialism and experience in linguistics, he has helped many English learners improve their spoken English skills. Whether you need a better pronunciation for your job, your friends, or even just because you love British English, he is the man to help you with achieving a confident, clear and cool British accent!
Could you introduce yourself and say something more about you (your life, work, hobbies) to people who haven’t heard about you?
My name is Elliott Giles, I am an English teacher and pronunciation expert from a place called Bristol, which is based in the South West of England. I have been teaching British pronunciation, both on YouTube and through my online courses since 2014.
Is it possible to be fluent in English when we start learning as adults?
It’s definitely possible! However, it does take a lot more time and effort than it would if we focused on this when we were younger. The brain of a child is similar to a sponge, it will soak up information faster; however, we must think of the adult brain as a used sponge, it still gets the job done, but it will take a few more attempts to get things crystal clear. As an adult, it’s important to study in small amounts, but as often as possible. For example, take 10 – 15 minutes out of your busy day to focus on one important grammar topic. Repeat this 2 – 3 times per day (only if you can, of course!).
How to immerse yourself in English from home and how to practise English speaking alone?
How much time should I spend on English?
We are lucky to be living in an age of internet and free information; places like YouTube and Facebook will provide you with a variety of English teachers and learners. I always suggest that my students find a YouTube teacher who has a style of teaching they enjoy – watch their videos on youtube, follow them on all social media platforms and turn on notifications! In that way, you won’t miss an update and you’ll be more inclined to add small English lessons to your daily life; whether it be an Instagram post teaching you a new word or a 10-minute video lesson all about pronunciation! The options are unlimited. However, using these new things you learn will be the biggest challenge. It’s up to you to find someone you can practice with.
How to overcome fear of speaking?
How to stop being shy? What tips do you have to help people overcome their fear of speaking the language?
A lot of people don’t believe me when I say this, but I am actually quite an introvert, I’m very shy. If I’m trying to tackle the overwhelming feelings I get, I usually like to imagine how I will feel after doing it. When people do something crazy, like skydiving, they are usually really scared and want to back out. However, once someone has pushed them out of the plane and they finally land; it’s a completely different story! Most people want to go back up again because it was so fantastic. On the contrary, imagine they didn’t do it… Deep down, they would be experiencing strong feelings of regret. So try to picture yourself after you’ve spoken to that person you’re nervous about speaking to – you should see an image of yourself smiling, feeling like you’ve taken a step in the right direction.
I have one other technique, which is the 1-2-3 method. If you’re shy or nervous about doing something; count to three. You MUST begin your task after the number 3.
Remember, the first time is always the worst. Your next attempt will feel way more comfortable.
What do you believe is the biggest myth when it comes to language learning?
A lot of people say that you NEED to live in a native speaking country to improve your pronunciation. I have students, friends and old colleagues who are living proof that this is not true. Living in a native country may speed up the process, but if you have access to some good books and an online teacher, you don’t need to leave your country once to achieve a clear and concise pronunciation.
Why American accent is easier to understand than British?
I think it’s because they say a lot of things how they are actually spelt. In British English, we don’t pronounce the letter 'r' in certain situations (that’s only one of many difficult rules). Furthermore, we all grow up around American TV (cartoons, reality TV, News etc.) so it’s kind of difficult to escape from picking up the sounds they make.
Should European people learn British or American English?
I think this is all about personal preference! You should ask yourself which English you prefer the sound of and attempt to stick with it throughout your studies. I’d suggest thinking about your future (or your current situation); are you living/do you want to live in the UK? Maybe British is the best for you. When you’re in that particular country, you’ll want to save the confusion between words like 'chips' – which both have different meanings in both countries.
Why is it worth to learn accent?
It’s extremely important! Things like intonation, stress, and of course, the individual sounds we make are the heart and soul of a language – they are the things which carry the things you are saying and deliver it to your listener. If you have good grammar and vocabulary, that’s fantastic, however, how will you show it off? If you can’t make it sound good, people will have a lot of trouble listening to you.
One thing I’d like to say is that pronunciation and accents are completely different things. I believe we should always focus on pronunciation first – try to get things sounding clear and understandable. When you’ve done this, you can then start working on your desired accent.
The course of learning accent.
You have made a professional British pronunciation course which is available on your website. Could you say something more about your course?
It’s an online video course in which I teach everything you need to have a confident and clear British pronunciation/accent. The course includes over 60 full-length video lessons (each between 25 – 60 minutes long), which also come with downloadable practice files. As well as the video lessons, all of my students can add me on WhatsApp to send me voice recordings for evaluation and feedback while they are taking the course. I even get some students sending me random words, with a „how do I pronuonunce this?” It’s quite fun for me!
I previously taught pronunciation on Skype, but I’ve seen a much higher success rate with the course so far! It’s had some brilliant feedback. (przyp. red. kurs dostępny jest na stronie https://www.etjenglish.com/)
How to avoid getting bored with learning languages?
How to motivate yourself to learn English? What to do if you lack the passion for language learning?
I believe a great way to learn English is by linking it with your hobbies and interests. If you really love music, read music blogs, magazines, forums etc. in the English language. You’ll be more engaged and motivated to keep on learning. Moreover, don’t overdo it! Many students try to learn things too fast and they lose all of their passion early on. Take your time.
One loose question in the end. You are an English teacher but you always wanted to be a singer. Do you regret not becoming a rock star?
It was one of those teenage dreams – I played guitar and sang in a band when I was a student and I always had this idea that one day, we would be performing to thousands of people every night and I’d come back home to a model girlfriend in my millionaire mansion. There came a point when I realised that I needed to put this dream aside and get myself a real job. I remember my dad telling me that I needed to ”get my head out of my ass” and start thinking about my future. Luckily, I found a passion for the English language; in particular, phonetics (probably from my experience of writing songs) and somehow, I found myself in the field of pronunciation and accents. It’s a great job! I love hearing someone speak English, knowing that I contributed to making them sound so British!