Documentaries and radio transcripts for improving British English?
October 8, 2011 4:29 AM   Subscribe

I've been thinking about improving my (received) pronunciation by reading out loud in English. Need help finding materials online.

I love documentaries and nonfiction, so I'd appreciate any recommendations on
a) transcribed (!) recordings/podcasts from British radio or
b) good British documentary films (assuming I'd then google out the scripts for reading).

I guess my focus is on "intelligent conversational language" -- thus the more dialogues/direct speech by "ordinary people" I get, the better. (Maybe audiobooks with good juicy language would help as well?) As to the documentaries, I guess everything involving well-drawn characters goes.

I'm a commited listener of Radiolab, This American Life, BBC's Material World and radio documentaries but AFAIK none of them are (no longer) actively putting their transcripts online.

Ah, and reflections or sucess stories as to the efficiency of this learning method (reading scripted conversational language aloud by myself) are welcome, too. Thanks!
posted by earthwormsleg to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've heard that speaking along with the recordings helps a lot.

One setup I've used to practice my speech is to have headphones in my ears playing what my microphone is recording in real time. That way I can hear what others hear, rather than hearing what my speech sounds like internally like usual. You can do this for free with OS X, but probably Windows, too. What I do is:

Plug in / put on headphones. Open a new GarageBand project. Go to Track -> New Track... and select "Real Instrument". This creates a new track that just listens using the computer's built-in microphone. On the settings on the right make sure "Monitor" is turned on. That makes the speakers parrot back what the microphone is recording. Then just hit "Record" and talk away. You should hear your voice in your ears; it's very disconcerting at first!
posted by losvedir at 6:13 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have been doing this myself for a couple years. I am pretty sure I have asked a couple askmet questions about it but the best thing I have is this post from my blog:

Whitman the Psalmist

I had a teacher tell me that Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and all those guys' speechwriters have Leaves of Grass practically memorized.

A lot of people have told me you should never tape record your own voice. You are used to it through the weird filter of it coming from inside your own body and hearing it without that filter shoves you into an uncanny valley. I have used tape recorders and never found them useful.

In addition to Leaves of Grass and King James book of Psalms, lately I have been using Nikos Kazantzakis Saviors of God and Odyssey a Modern Sequel. The first one is short and the second one is really long so I haven't gotten all the way through it yet.

All of these but the Odyssey sequel are easily accessible online. You will have to find a pirate copy for the Odyssey if you want to use it online and free.
posted by bukvich at 7:48 AM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

On second thought that is a little overstated. I should have said I have been working on a very similar project, not the same. Hope it is close enough to be of use to you.
posted by bukvich at 7:55 AM on October 8, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll definitely try the "headphones method"; I've actually thought about the same thing earlier as well. The psalms seem intriquing but I feel that this would be geared more towards native speakers.

However, my major need is the reading material. Constantly scripted radio shows? Good British documentaries? Anyone? Thanks.
posted by earthwormsleg at 12:07 AM on October 11, 2011

I believe David Attenborough speaks with received pronunciation. He's phenomenal and has narrated ton(ne)s of documentaries. (e.g. this or this)

I love the british version of Planet Earth, in particular (not the American one narrated by Sigourney Weaver).

I'm sure you could find transcripts of it online.
posted by losvedir at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2011

« Older Oil of oregano under tongue?   |   Bellatrix, Cleoratra and Meg are gorgeous... help... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.