Pronunciation may well be the hardest part about speaking in English to our kids, more so than lacking(1) vocabulary or not mastering grammar.
When it comes(2) to trying to speak as naturally as possible, I personally find that intonation and rhythm are perhaps the most tricky(3) features about pronunciation. However, Storytime provide us with priceless opportunities to become experts on those features if we set our minds to it. Far too often(4) parents who wish to read stories in English to their kids worry that their pronunciation is not good enough and that their children will pick up(5) their accents. Rather than being put off(6) by it, I strongly believe that what we should do is
stop worrying so much and start using the technology that is available to us. Thanks to YouTube, for example, we can easily access all the major children's books out there -and for free!. Some rather kind Engish-speaking natives users decided to make our lives easier by recording their voices whilst reading their stories. And while I have the feeling that I am not revealing anything new here (surely I am not the only one using the trick), I wonder how many parents do pay attention to the patterns(7) in intonation or rhythm perhaps too worried about the pronunciation of words.
My daughter's favourite books at the moment are A Squash and a Squeeze, by J. Donaldson and A. Scheffler and Oh, Dear, by Rod Campbell. We have read them oh so many times (and we still do so on a daily (nightly, rather) basis that I think I'm ready to go and upload a video myself! Btw, I'll try to write a post about the words I did struggle with when I first started reading these two stories (larder...?? agh!).
Back to intonation. This morning we went to Casa del Libro to look for some new books in English. I didn't have any particular one in mind (I do believe that sometimes books choose us and it's nice to let them do so every now and then(8) so it was a real nice surprise to stumble upon(9) PLANT A KISS, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by P. H. Reynolds. It's about a girl and her small act of love that blooms into something bigger than she anticipated; like us trying to plant the linguistic seeds in our kids, I suppose :) The first thing I did when we got home from the bookshop was check on YouTube if someone had uploaded a video retelling the story and... voilà! - there it was!. I then had to cook lunch, eat and head(10) to work so it wasn't until tonight that I listened to the story which I've totally fallen in love with, by the way. I'll try to watch it a couple of times more before I read the story to my daughter at the weekend so I can practise on the stare/share/dare/rare/bare/care/there, too. But the intonation is just... If you haven't heard of this book, I strongly recommend you listen to it here. It is simple beautiful!
By the way, what about you? I'd like to know, are you often too worried only about your accent? Or do you worry also about intonation? I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have any other tricks when it comes to pronunciation, intonation, rhthym etc. :)
2-when it comes to (something): en lo que se refiere a
4-far too often: demasiadas veces, con demasiada frecuencia
5-pick up: aprender, coger (en el sentido de pillar)
8-every now and then: de vez en cuando
9-stumble upon: tropezarse (en sentido figurado)