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Ask the Linguist, with Dr. Robin Barr

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Every fourth Friday, language teachers gather to explore language-related questions with Color Vowel's lead phonologist, Dr. Robin Barr.

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Come with your language questions, and prepare to have fun!

Dr. Robin Barr is Linguist in Residence at American University, Lead Instructor at the Washington Literacy Center, and Lead Phonologist at ELTS/Color Vowel®.

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Organizer English Language Training Solutions

Organizer of Ask the Linguist, with Dr. Robin Barr

English Language Training Solutions (ELTS) is the training provider for the Color Vowel® Approach and publisher of The Color Vowel® Chart.

We take the "Solutions" part of our name seriously. ELTS co-founders Karen Taylor and Shirley Thompson, have solved a problem that has underscored the teaching of English for literally centuries: namely, the gap that divides our spoken language from its written form.

The problem of learning English is multifaceted:

1. English is a stress-timed language, yet the complex phenomenon of stress is mostly hidden from conscious noticing. Without training, many teachers and students work fruitlessly on the surface features of pronunciation while missing or underestimating stress as the single most important feature of spoken English. ELTS delivers breakthrough phonological awareness training in every Color Vowel® workshop. 

2. English is not a phonetically-written language. Words like cough, tough, though and through look similar but all sound different, while words like through, new and true look different but rhyme nonetheless. The Color Vowel® Chart solves this problem by flipping the traditional phonics approach, starting instead with phonemic stress as the fundamental touchstone for learning English.

3. Conventional terminology used for teaching English is misleading: ‘long’ and ‘short’ vowels are vestigial terms that describe phonemic features of Middle English but which are mostly meaningless in the context of Modern English. The Color Vowel® Approach establishes an easily accessible yet linguistically accurate language for talking about the vowel sounds and behaviors of spoken English.

With our innovative tools and techniques, ELTS is changing the way people talk about English, enabling teachers and learners to fuel progress with language awareness found through the use of concrete, high-yield learning strategies. Welcome to the Color Vowel® Approach!

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