Should I tell him it’s wrong?

I’ve just spent the last week in Madrid in a rather nice hotel, outside which there was a kiosk selling newspapers, magazines, cold drinks and other summer essentials. Going down into the metro each day, my eye was drawn inexorably to two signs the kiosk had displayed in English and Spanish. I mean, what are […]

A load of crap?

Last Friday I was travelling home by train. As we approached the mountains that separate Asturias from the great plains of Central Spain, I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me, who I’d seen using English in a message he’d been writing on his phone. He turned out to be an American […]

The world’s language

When the dust has settled it’s often useful to take stock. This is an especially good idea after a conference as full and as fulfilling as IATEFL, which was in Birmingham this year. If the venue was new, the range and variety of talks on offer was as appealing as ever, so following a well-studied […]

Have you anything to say for yourself?

If you were with me in Bilbao or Madrid at my session on fluency in speaking in English, I promised to make the presentation slides available. Just go to downloads and you’ll find them there. Thanks for coming to the session. Thanks also to MacMillan for inviting me to speak, and to Trinity College London for sponsoring me.

Doubts about ELF pronunciation 2 – weak forms

In this second post about doubts about ELF pronunciation I want to respond to two questions about weak forms: 1. … regarding the use of weak forms, the LFC states that they are not to be taught (unless the student’s needs are for EFL) so speakers are encouraged to use the strong form of the word. In […]

Doubts about ELF pronunciation – 1) schwa within words

I recently received a very interesting email from someone doing their PhD on the teaching of pronunciation for English as a Lingua Franca. The person in question is researching at a Spanish university and hopes that their work will ‘help Spanish speakers of English improve their pronunciation in the language, following the Lingua Franca Core’. Obviously I […]

Nex week

When I was in the UK over Xmas I came out of the cinema after seeing The Imitation Game (nothing to do with pronunciation, but still brilliant) and was confronted with this  store sign (also nothing to do with pronunciation and only three-quarters brilliant). It could be that the ‘t’ had simply failed to light up, though I like to think that […]

Hidden meanings

Do you remember being told at some stage during your early training that the meaning isn’t necessarily in the words? Remember – all that stuff about the meaning coming from the words in a given context, with a given speaker and interlocutor, etc.  All that stuff that we learn to get through the exam and so qualify […]

To IP(A) or not to IP(A) – that is the question.

I’ve been working with quite a lot of primary school teachers recently. During the workshop I’m running with them on basic pronunciation teaching techniques I often get asked if they should use IPA symbols with their learners. It’s a question I’ve not been comfortable answering because I don’t have the relevant classroom experience, but I’ve spoken to […]