Uh-oh! Here comes a ‘Teacher Pete thinking something through out loud’ moment. Tut. I hate these…
Mark Hancock shared a good article on LinkedIn the other day called ‘Pronunciation Teaching Post-ELF’. It’s got me thinking about my own attitudes towards pronunciation and what features of pronunciation should be addressed in class.
According to Hancock, what we need to teach is pretty much established: (more…)
Let it gooooo, let it gooooo!
Now that’s out of my system, here’s a review of ELSA Speak. It’s an app that teaches you to ‘pronounce English like an American through real-world conversations’. It’s a great use of AI in language learning – it really is amazing what some of these apps can do now!
With ELSA Speak you can work through a wide range of activities which mainly focus on the individual sounds of English. Most activities involve recording yourself saying a word or phrase. The phrases are topic related (introductions, family, business, food and drink, etc) so not only can you improve your pronunciation, you can also learn phrases that are relevant to your own context.
You can choose the skill (sounds) you’re interested in. A bulk of the activities involve recording phrases like the one above. (more…)
I’ve written quite a few pronunciation activities this year for a regional product (Asia). Here are a few random thoughts on the process…
Pronunciation for… what?
As Laura Patsko mentions in this interesting Pedagogy Pop-up, pronunciation is important for all skills, not just speaking.
A lot of the pronunciation stages in our materials focus on connected speech. The aim of these activities (IMO) is more to help learners decode natural speech rather than to produce a certain pronunciation feature accurately themselves. Of course, it would be nice if they could do both…
If the purpose of a pronunciation activity isn’t clearly communicated to teachers (and to learners) then this could lead to either having the wrong expectations. There is always a production element in our pronunciation activities, but accurate production of a certain feature might not be the primary aim of an activity.
What problems do the learners have?
This year I’ve been writing a regional product. I’ve taught in 3 of the 15 or so countries where the materials are used. I’ve found it’s pretty tough to address the needs of every learner with a regional product. Resources like Swan’s Learner English have been really useful for understanding common pronunciation problems faced by learners across a region. It’s always worth asking other teachers too – I’m pretty sure that our teachers have taught across the whole region between them.
Of course, it’s worth asking the learners themselves what difficulties they have, but there are practical issues. It might be hard to do this across a whole region, plus they might not actually know what they have difficulties with! (more…)
In this latest guest post, CELTA Trainer Nicky Salmon offers some tips for drilling pronunciation.
I watch a lot of teachers doing drills to focus on pronunciation.
Picture yourself drilling the following-
Teacher: OK class, listen….vegetable, vegetable
Students : Vegetable
Many teachers manage the turn taking (model, repeat, model, repeat) quite successfully but sadly forget to make it clear WHAT feature they want students to hear/identify and so repeat.
For example, with VEGETABLE,
-how many syllables are pronounced and which is stressed?
-are all the vowels full or is there a schwa sound in there somewhere?
If the teacher forgets to make it clear in some way what the features are, then this is a FLAPPY DRILL.
There are many times when we need to focus our students on making the sounds of the new language we are teaching them.
- Maybe a consonant cluster in a new piece of vocabulary, for example, /br/ or /rts/.
- Maybe the schwa /ə/ sound or an unexpected pronunciation that doesn’t seem to mirror the spelling, for example, the varieties for the written ‘ea’,
- Maybe the word has two or more syllables and the stress need to be identified.
- Maybe the stress in a sentence is linked to the meaning or the intonation pattern is clearly linked to the feeling or attitude of the speaker.
I just watched a good talk from Mark McKinnon and Nicola Meldrum called ‘Making pronunciation an integral part of your classroom practice’. Here’s a link (I can’t embed the vid for some reason).
I’m a DipTESOL graduate so ‘pron’ is close to home for me. OxfordTEFL is also top of my list for places to work so I was excited about this one!
McKinnon and Meldrum started by mentioning the need to treat pronunciation as equal among language systems, and to integrate the teaching of ‘pron’ into our daily practice. ‘Sounds’ good to me.
They led with a video of one of their learners, Isabel, who was recorded completing a speaking task. As an audience we analysed some of the pronunciation problems she had. The point was to emphasise that analysing our learners’ pronunciation was important – once we know what the issues are then we can ‘begin to integrate relevant and useful pronunciation work’. True. (more…)
I’m currently working at the British Council summer school in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s been a fantastic experience so far, and it’s the first time I’ve ever taught English to Vietnamese learners. It’s also my first stint at the British Council. Here are some of my early thoughts on what it’s like to teach Vietnamese students, problems they may encounter, and some teaching tips to help you out. (more…)