Materials writing conversations #5: the recording

This is a completely imaginary conversation. No characters in the convo are based on real people – I’m just bored and imagining conversations I might have with editors…

Editor: We need to get all the listening texts finalised by early next week, as we’ll be in the studio on Wednesday and Thursday.

Me: Okay. Two full days in the studio. Sounds busy. I guess there’s a lot to record.

Editor: Yeah. It’s always a rigmarole booking studio time, making sure everything is ready and all that. Luckily, the two voice actors we used for the previous levels were both available again, so that saves some hassle.

Me: Wait. The same two voice actors?

Editor: Yes.

Me: But what about the feedback I gave on the previous materials?

Editor: Feedback?

Me: Yes! The stuff about the audio, and the lack of variety. And, you know, the stuff about Mr. ‘Same old’.

Editor: I don’t…? Sorry, I’m lost…

Me: You seriously don’t remember? One of the actors we use… he has, like, one voice for every situation. He sounds the same when he’s a doctor, student, angry customer, tourist asking for directions. It’s just… it’s always him. You can tell it’s always him. He’s like… a non-acting voice actor.

Editor: Well, we only have a budget for two actors, so…

Me: Yeah, I know. But maybe we could choose one a bit more versatile. I mean, it makes it hard for learners to suspend their disbelief…

Editor: Suspend their disbelief…? This isn’t wrestling… It’s TEFL.

Me: You know what I mean. When a teacher explains the context of a listening, it would be nice if the learners think ‘okay, this sounds plausible’, rather than ‘I wonder which of the roles the doctor/student/tourist/non-versatile voice actor guy will be playing this time’.

Editor: I’m not sure they think that. At this level I doubt they would know the word versatile.


Editor: Anyway, he is versatile. He used various accents when recording the last level.

Me: No he didn’t! I requested a ‘speaker with a Scottish accent’ to explain a bit about Scottish culture. You assigned that role to Mr. ‘Same old’. He literally said the ‘I’m from Scotland’ bit at the start of the listening in a really bad, cringeworthy attempt at a Scottish accent, then just slipped into his regular home counties accent.

Editor: So, you’re saying that he can’t be from Scotland if he doesn’t ‘sound’ Scottish?

Me: I knew you were going to say that. Now I’m on the defensive, because you’re kind of right. Kind of. Wait… Grrr. I don’t know what to say. Did you at least get rid of the numbers this time?

Editor: The numbers?

Me: You know, ‘Listening. Sixty-four point one’.

Editor: Why?

Me: Because no authentic conversation in the history of humankind has ever started with ‘Listening. Sixty-four point one’.

Editor: Just skip that bit.

Me: Teachers say that skipping audio crashes the computers.

Editor: The number is important. We need to know what lessons the audio goes with.

Me: It says it in the file name…

Editor: No offence, but I hardly think omitting the numbers is an enhancement on the listening texts.

Me: I know, it’s trivial. But I just want you to listen to ONE of my suggestions. Just ONE. I’m aiming pretty low here.

Editor: We’re keeping the numbers. Mr ‘Same old’ is booked for next week.

Categories: General, materials writing

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