My English teacher has a British accent and corrects the pronunciation I learned from American TV shows like Friends. Is American TV wrong?

American accents are not wrong. The differences between UK and North American accents are only small. For example UK pronounces ‘t’ as a /t/ in the middle of words such as ‘pretty’, ‘little’ and ‘water’ but NA use /d/ and ‘pretty’, ‘little’ and ‘water’ sound like /pridy/, / lidel/ and /woder/. Parts of Europe and India have UK materials, the rest of the world prefers to adopt a neutral North American accent. Both are fine and your teacher should not be fussing about such silly details.

I have never taught my students a phonetic alphabet before – is it really that important?

A good phonetic alphabet is like a good foundation for a house:  we don’t see it unless there is a problem. If you build your house on a sturdy foundation it will stand for a long time, but if you don’t, it won’t.  It doesn’t take much time to teach the Thompson Vowel Chart, but the chart will provide your students with a solid foundation on which to build confidence in their ability to communicate for years to come.

How can there be no exceptions to the 16 color Thompson Vowel Chart?

English is known as the “language of exceptions”.  Up until now, there has not been a rule or system that helps with pronunciation 100% of the time.  The beauty of the Thompson Vowel Chart is that it will capture the correct pronunciation of EVERY word in the English language.  The six absolute principals outlined in TLC’s English is Stupid text cover ALL of the necessary elements of effective communication in English.

We are a service sector organization of mostly native English speakers who often deal with non-native English speaking clients and vendors. Have you any resources to help us improve our communications?

TLC workshops have been developed to provide native English speakers with actionable information on communicating effectively with non-native English speakers. Invariably, participants are surprised to learn of the many things they can do to enable improved communication with non-native speakers.  A TLC corporate workshop is an investment in your most valuable asset – your people – and will result in minimized frustration, foster company morale and improve your bottom line.


I am a Human Resources Manager in a mid-sized manufacturing company and most of our employees are immigrants. Is there anything that TLC can offer to improve communication and therefore profitability in our situation?

Depending on their level of English, non-native speakers typically require a two-day workshop before there is a marked improvement in their ability to communicate. Your employees will be easier to understand and they will be more capable communicating with management, customers and colleagues.

Improved speaking confidence releases a whole new world of productivity, resourcefulness and engagement from your most valuable resource – your employees.  Clear and effective communication among your employees and within your industry will improve best business practices and result in fewer communication delays in day to day business transactions.

How does the Thompson Vowel Chart work?

There are 16 vowel sounds in English and each one is found in the name of a color:

long ‘a’ is in Gray, it is also in rain, date, eight , play, hey and great…

short ‘a’ is in Black, it is also in cat, laugh, plaid and calf…

long ‘e’ is in Green, it is also in meat, ski, be, Pete and piece…

short ‘e’ is in Red, it is also in head, said, friend, get and guess…

long ‘i’ is in White, it is also in cry, eye, aisle, find, I, pie and choir…

short ‘i’ is in Pink, it is also in pretty, women, mystery, busy and build…

…and so on.

Students remember a word by its color and from its color they remember how to pronounce it correctly. The Thompson Vowel Chart uses information students understand to give meaning to difficult information they are trying to learn.

Multi-syllable words have only one stressed sound, and that sound determines the color of the word. The pronunciation of absolutely EVERY word in the English language is represented on the Thompson Vowel Chart as one of 16 colors.

Student confidence grows exponentially when they know they can find the correct pronunciation of any word from a single piece of paper – the Thompson Vowel Chart.

In the fall of 2012, TLC will be launching the world’s first dictionary by sound.  English learners will be able to quickly reference word meanings based on their color-coded sounds.

Are there any institutions (educational/business/etc.) using or planning to use the TLC program?

There are over 20 colleges, universities and language institutes in Canada benefitting from TLC’s simple and effective methodology.  Additionally, several Canadian school boards employ English is Stupid in all of their classrooms.

TLC is currently collaborating with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario to develop an e-learning speaking program for release in 2013.  The e-learning program will be accessible to English language learners all over the world.

Businesses in over 30 countries, ranging from small, local organizations to large multinational corporations have garnered the benefits of TLC’s simple and applicable methodology. The program’s international popularity is attributed to it’s intuitive design and short learning curve.  It has become an essential component to arm progressive business people with a competitive edge in global markets.  For a sampling of private organizations TLC has worked with and their recommendations on the TLC program and materials, please contact us directly.

What is the methodology behind the book English is Stupid?

Based on the difference between written and spoken English, English is Stupid explores the 6 basic structures that define how English speaking works differently from English writing. From a customized English Phonetic Alphabet to the roles of word stress and expressions in conveying messages, English is Stupid is a complete guide to understanding and learning how to speak English independently from grammar and other writing skills.

How is the TLC methodology different from existing systems?

The TLC methodology focusses on teaching fluency by identifying critical factors that inhibit students’ confidence and addressing those issues head on.  English is Stupid teaches speaking by unmasking surprising truths about how speaking actually works.  The text dispels myths about the importance of accents and grammar, and provides a structure that works for students outside the classroom.

Why is the TLC method more effective and more successful than other programs?

The Thompson Vowel Chart fixes the unfixable by providing a bridge from crazy English spelling to confident speaking. There are very few steps to the methodology, and hey progress logically with no exceptions.  The system works for all levels of learners.

When students begin to understand what is important for speaking English and how simple it is, their pronunciation of the language improves immediately.  They suddenly have the tools to communicate freely and confidently in the workplace, school and in their everyday lives.

Perhaps the most salient feature of the program is the independence it affords students.  They can apply the principles outside the classroom and at their own pace.  The results stay with the students long after class is over.