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Monday, December 06, 2010

Eleven Plus Regionalisation

When we catch unexpected glimpses of performers on shows like the X Factor it is always interesting to observe why they lose their accents when they sing. We do know, however, that when we are singing we use our voice tract in a different way from when we speak.

It is always extraordinary how a perfectly ordinary girl from a good background, having worked in a supermarket for two years, and has never been further than Blackpool from her home, is able to sing with a mid American accent. Not only is the accent true, and the words word perfect, and she has the ability to hold the top note for two quavers, but she can also smile, dance and keep eye contact with the camera.

When singing the mouth and the pharynx are held open and wider for improved resonance and amplification. The nasal squeak of some confirmed country and western singers is possibly harder to achieve. How can someone who has never been to Nashville sing convincingly? Part of the explanation is when singing in a karaoke style a singer has to follow predetermined rises and fall in the music. Most of us will remember our music teacher praying for` assonance and more assonance’

Some dialects allow for a rise at the end of sentence. Some accents are remarkably positioned a long way from received English. On the BBC regionalisation has long been a buzz word.

Some eleven plus parents must wonder, sometimes, how the paper they bought is going to help in the specialised eleven plus examination their child will sit. The proliferation of papers and online tests and exercises offer lots of choice, but little real information, about the paper’s efficacy and reliability.

Is there a need for eleven plus papers to be regionalised? In some ways yes but the papers are trying to excite and stimulate parts of the brain. An exercise on similar meanings is almost the same in any region or county. All a parent can hope is that just as the mouth and the pharynx must combine to produce melody and tune so parents hope that eleven plus papers will produce correct answers in the examination.

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