The Talking Dictionary

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In 2008, I moved to another city where I landed my first ESL teaching job. It's a face-to-face set up in which my students were visiting South Koreans. 

Nothing fascinated me more than what I saw on my first day.

While having a free-talking session with my student, I mentioned a word he was unfamiliar with. He looked at me and said, "Excuse me." 

He reached for his backpack and pulled out what looked like a highly-advanced calculator or something.

It was unlike anything I'd ever seen. My student looked up the word he was confused with then punched in some button producing what appeared to be a recorded voice. 

Impressed, I blurted, "Holy crap, this thing pronounces words better than me!"

My student revealed it's a pocket electronic dictionary. It has a speaker icon next to each word or phrase that tells you how words are pronounced. 

Unable to contain my curiosity, I said, "Can I take a look?" I examined this incredible piece of invention from all angles the way you see Steve Jobs checking out the Blue Box.

Unable to contain my curiosity, I said, "Can I take a look?" I examined this incredible piece of invention from all angles the way you see Steve Jobs checking out the Blue Box

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I found out several days later that online dictionaries also come equipped with audio pronunciation recordings. 

So, I started using them. I didn't have my own PC nor laptop at the time. 

I was totally dependent on crowded and noisy Internet Cafes where studying pronunciation accounted for about 80% of my limited time.

I would study words and then play and replay the speaker icon until the sound felt second nature to me.

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