Voice Over to teach English as a Second Language

Recording the voice overs for programmes which teach English as a foreign language is always an interesting prospect.

First and foremost, the speech has to be a lot slower than normal. The voice artist has to remember that the audience in question are listening to a language in order to learn it, hence if it is too quick, the listener will either become frustrated or simply switch off.

Of course, it’s also important that the delivery is not so slow as to suggest that the recording is being listened to by someone of lesser intelligence. It’s a 1970s cliche that the best way to get someone of another language to understand you is to simply speak really slowly and loudly at the same time!

Language is taught differently to adults than it is to children. Whilst as children we are taught the structure of a language – nouns, verbs, etc – for an adult, these terms are not as important as simply using the language in context. Therefore, the student will listen to conversations and monologues, written in a way which helps them focus on a particular aspect of the language.

From the producer’s point of view, working with a voice over artist who can do multiple voices is especially useful, as it means that various different ‘characters’ can be used to deliver the lesson, yet at a fraction of the cost of hiring numerous actors.

I’m delighted to have worked on a number of these projects, currently being learned in both Europe and the Far East, and here is just one example of a monologue which was recorded recently: