What is the connection between pronunciation and other areas of learning English? How do we choose a model and priorities both for ourselves and, more importantly, for our learners? What do we do if our own accent isn’t exactly BBC? Do we ignore pronunciation and hope it will take care of itself? These are some of the questions I ask (and answer) in Pronunciation Matters.
Technology for Teaching Pronunciation
Pronunciation needs an individualised approach, with learners working at their own speed towards their own individual goals. It needs repeated practice with instant feedback to allow for modifications in production. In short, it needs one-to-one teaching, so presumably technology is the answer to our problems. Or is it? In this talk you’ll find out, and see what technology can do for pronunciation.
Research has shown that young learners are very good at imitating the sounds, rhythm and intonation that characterize the pronunciation of English. We now also have a much clearer idea as to which features of English pronunciation are essential for successful oral communication. This talk first explores our priorities when working on pronunciation with young learners, and then looks at a variety of practical techniques to help us to teach pronunciation in a meaningful, motivating manner.
Telling stories is one of the most important techniques available to English teachers of young and very young learners. However, storytelling requires a very good command of English pronunciation. This session will look at those key aspects of pronunciation that make the tales we tell in class easier to follow (and also easier to pronounce). In short, we’ll be looking at issues that will improve things not only for us but also for our learners.
Spit It Out!
Good pronunciation is an essential part of speaking. In fact, in practical terms, it’s possibly more important than perfect grammar or vocabulary. With teenagers the overall aim is for students to achieve intelligible pronunciation and adequate intonation. The first part of this talk explains just what this means in terms of day-to-day teaching goals. The talk then looks at a variety of practical techniques that will allow us to help our students achieve these aims.
Going for a Song
Although songs are regularly used in the language classroom, their potential for generating memorable pronunciation practice is not always fully appreciated. Using authentic materials, this talk briefly explores the key features to the almost unique nature of the rhythm of English, and then looks at how songs students listen to in their leisure time can be brought into the classroom and used to practice the rhythm and sounds of English.
Getting a Grip on Vowels
For most teachers vowels are harder to deal with than consonants. Native-speaker teachers can offer their own pronunciation as a model, but often cannot help students when this basic strategy of listen-and-repeat fails. Non-native speaker teachers often have a formal understanding of vowel theory, but are not sure how to use this in class. This session will change all that!
Here is the Weather
Successful language practice involves activities that are meaningful, individualised, and offer useable feedback. In this respect pronunciation is no different to other areas of language learning. This talk examines the use of task-based student recordings as a tool for improving pronunciation that responds well to the above criteria, and which is suited to both multi- and monolingual groups.
(Mother–) Tongue Tied
Most teaching is done to monolingual groups by teachers who share the learners’ first language. On the surface this would seem to be far from the ideal situation for teaching pronunciation. Or is it? Could it be that there are benefits to working with learners who share the same first language? Is their mother tongue really tying these learners down?