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 […]

On how not to get hung up about pronunciation

One of my local newspapers regularly publishes a ‘teach yourself English’ course. It’s been doing this since I came here to live in 1981, which could be seen as a sign of its commitment to teaching its readers English. Alternatively, it could be that the course doesn’t work. Here’s a bit about the difference in pronunciation between […]

Italy is Eataly

When I was in Milan last week, IH gave me a bag of wonderful Italian goodies – cheese, sweets, etc. The food came in a very re-useable canvas bag, which bore the slogan ITALY is EATALY. It’s gloriously tongue in cheek, which is not inappropriate given that they are a food company. It’s also a great example of what happens […]

Goal setting

What’s the connection between what I talked about at IH Milán on Friday (and also at the British Council at the end of September), and what I was doing last Sunday, which you can see here? a) None. b) I was in all three events. c) There were a lot of people at all three […]

IH Milan Annual Conference 2014

Congratulations to IH Milan, and especially to Richard Twigg and Mike Riley, for organizing their 7th Annual Conference around the theme of pronunciation. As I never tire of saying to teachers, pronunciation really does matter, but sadly it’s not that often that it is given the attention it received yesterday at the Centro Congressi Fast. […]

Evaluating standard English accents

While I was struggling to access this blog I used Facebook to let you know about the excellent chapter on attitudes to L2 accents by Stephanie Lindemann, Jason Litzenberg, and Nicholas Subtirelu (from Social dynamics in second language accent (2013, Levis & Moyer, eds). I quoted the authors … “We argue that while negative attitudes […]

Back in the driving seat?

Anyone who is a friend of mine via Facebook will know I’ve been having real problems accessing my WordPress site, hence the zero blogging and updating since mid August. If you’re reading this now, however, it’s because I’m back in the driving seat (though not entirely sure if the brakes are working properly). In short, I […]

Recent pronunciation articles

Over the past the past year I’ve put together a series of six articles for on pronunciation English Teaching professional, one of the world’s leading teacher’s magazines. The articles are relatively short. but cover a range of topics: Pronunciation Matters. ETp 90, January 2014. A look at the way that poor pronunciation impacts on every other […]

Accent, identity and intelligibility

Yesterday a colleague invited me to look at a video on the web site of the Guardian newspaper. We’ve been colleagues for a while now and she knows I’m really interested in everything to do with pronunciation, especially the non- standard pronunciation of non-native speakers. The clip I was going to watch, she warned me, […]

‘Castles’ in the air

International flights are a great opportunity to see English working as a lingua franca. When you take off from Zurich to Madrid as I did the other day, the safety demonstration and other standard messages that you get over the speakers are not aimed at native speakers, and usually aren’t given by native speakers. It was interesting […]