Reading Aloud on Voxopop

Chinswing has now become Voxopop!  “Perspective,” a Japanese user who has started several different conversations, has now begun several threads for reading aloud which are wonderful for improving your listening, speaking, and reading skills!  The first one I found is devoted to short stories by O. HenryO. Henry, whose real name was William Sidney Porter, lived at the turn of the 20th century and wrote many wonderful stories about people in New York City.  The first story in the thread is one of my favorites, “The Last Leaf.”  It is about two young artists, Sue and Johnsy, who live together in New York.  Johnsy is dying of pneumonia, and she has decided that when the last ivy leaf on the wall outside her window falls, she will die.  The story of how Johnsy survives will bring tears to your eyes.

At the beginning of each short story in the thread, there is a link to the story on the web.  Each participant in the thread reads a few paragraphs of the story.  You can read along as you listen to English learners from many different countries read aloud.  O. Henry’s vocabulary is challenging, so this thread is best for advanced learners, who will find plenty of challenging new words in the stories.

Perspective has another thread dedicated to the short stories of Oscar Wilde, Angl0-Irish author and playwright of the Victorian age. Wilde’s language is easier than O. Henry’s, so intermediate learners may prefer this thread.

The most recent read-aloud thread begun by Perspective is English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs.  These stories also feature easier language than the O. Henry stories, but many of the words are archaic (old and no longer used in modern English), and there is non-standard grammar in the speech of the characters.

Reading and listening to literature is a great way to expand your vocabulary and hone your listening skills.  You can also contribute to the threads by reading a part of a story.  If you are an English learner, I’d recommend that you look up any unfamiliar vocabulary first to get the correct pronunciation.  Then practice reading the passage you have chosen a few times before you record it.  Speak clearly and with feeling!  Reading aloud is wonderful speaking practice.

Chinswing

Chinswing is a global voiceboard–a site where registered members can post comments to threaded discussions and a variety of topics.  You can listen to the discussions without registering, but if you want to contribute to a discussion, you must register.  (Registration is free and is very easy to do.)  Most discussions are in English, but there are some in other languages, like Japanese and Spanish.  The discussions are sorted into categories (“channels”) such as “Health and Wellbeing” and “Society and Culture.”  Within each category you will find sub-categories.  For example, under “Society and Culture,” you can choose “Current Events and News,” “Education,” “Global Issues,” “Language,” etc.  The main page tells you how many threads exist for a given category; for instance, there are 24 threads under “Books and Literature” but only two under “Theater” (category: “Entertainment & Arts”).

I started a couple of threads for my beginning Listening Speaking class at the Maryland English Institute, and I was pleased to find that English language learners from several countries found my threads and posted contributions.  One of them is “What’s your favorite…?” and the other is “I have a cell phone.”   For more advanced students, there are plenty of interesting-looking threads to choose from.  Many of these have been inactive for months, but as soon as someone posts on them, they will appear on the start page under “Listen to the Latest,” and those who contributed to them earlier will get an email informing them that there is a new post (unless they have disabled this).

What is nice about Chinswing is that you can think about your post for as long as you want before you record it.  You can even write it out and read it, if you want to.  You can preview it before approving it, so if you made a mistake and want to correct it, you can re-record it.  When you are satisfied, you can approve it and it will be posted immediately on the thread.

You can also upload a small photo of yourself from your computer to your Chinswing profile so that when people listen to your contribution, they can see what you look like.  This is optional.  You can also use your real name or a pseudonym.