Meet Anna Venishnick (center, seated) and some of her students within the English Language Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. They met for class four days a week within the university’s Cathedral of Learning.
The students, who’d just finished a semester long course on the day I visited, wanted Locally Toned’s help producing the Internationals-Calling Ringtone–a montage of their voices making phone calls in their native languages (Portuguese, Thai, German and Turkish). For this tone, each voice was recorded as a single track. I edited all the voices together in a mix and also added a slightly altered electronic “ring.”
I asked all the participants to loosely translate what they said in their native tongues. Rochelle, speaking Portuguese in the says, “Hey! Let’s go. Pick up the phone right now!” Normai, in Thai, says, “Hey–pick up the Phone! Please, please, please, please…” And Ismail’s quote is, “Hello. You can answer the phone–I know you’re there. Please.” Anna, in German, says, “Good morning, I am calling you. I want to talk to you.”
I also asked the students why they came to Pittsburgh to study English. Ismail wants to improve his skills so that he can apply to a master’s program in civil engineering. Rochelle, from Brazil, is studying English because she’d like to attend Pitt’s master’s program in Physical Therapy, “One of the best PT programs in the nation,” she added. Normai came to Pittsburgh to study and improve his abilities saying, “To work as a professional in Thialand, having another language helps.”
When began listening to the audio from our session, I really liked the inflection in Normai’s speech, so I added an altered phone ring to it, and made Normai’s Tone (Thai).
I asked the students if they had any individual ideas. Ismail wanted to say, “Why don’t we try to be friends? Why not?” in a Turkish, for a ringtone. He explained, “There is an expectation that people will fight or be enemies in my country.” Ismail wishes to question and challenge that expectation through the sharing of a ringtone. Here’s Ismail’s Tone (Turkish) . I added a little seriously altered-audio something-something (tweaked extended notes from a grand old organ, and a track of hopeful bird chirps) behind his words.
Thank you Anna, Rochelle, Normai and Ismail for your international contributions to Locally Toned.