Quality or quantity – priorities for English vowels

Sorry, I’m a late with this. I got distracted. They’re busy re–roofing the garage and I’ve been negotiating what I want them to do and for how much. “It’s a big job,’ the roofer said, ‘And I guess you want it done well, so it’s a question of both quantity and quality. That’s not going […]

The Nativeness Principle

Welcome back! I signed off in July saying I’d be back in September, and I swore to myself that I’d be back at the beginning of the month, but I didn’t make it! The other thing that I promised was to return to blogging with the letter ‘N’, and there I can manage to be […]

M is halfway

M is halfway through the alphabet so it’s a good time to take a break. End of term, let’s say, and time for the northern hemisphere’s summer recess. I’ll be back in September, however, with more mind-numbing reflections on pronunciation, beginning with N and the nativeness principle, and moving on to other irresistible delights such […]

Intelligibility

In concluding ‘A’ is for accent (2), my second post in this pronunciation blog, I argued that ‘[a]ccent has given way to intelligibility as the main focus of pronunciation teaching in the 21st century’. A couple of weeks later, I ended the post on comprehensibility by tying accent and comprehensibility to a third term, intelligibility, […]

Habit formation

H At the 2014 IATEFL International Conference in Harrogate, there was a veritable buzz of excitement among members of the Pronunciation Special Interest Group. Pronunciation was about to leap forward into the 21st century – ‘listen and repeat‘ was dead. In part, because it was boring (or so we were told), but dead principally because […]

Fricatives (and functional load)

In my posts for ‘B’ and ‘D’ I talked about bilabial and dental consonants. These terms are an indication of where the sounds in each category are made in the mouth. In other words, they are an indication of the place of articulation. In contrast, the term fricative is an indication of how a consonant sound is made. […]

Dental consonants

‘D’ could be for quite a lot of issues in pronunciation including dialect, diphthong or devoicing, but I thought I’d follow up from my post on bilabials with this one on dental consonants. There are two dental consonants in English, /θ/ and /ð/, as in thing and that, respectively. The two sounds are made in the same way, […]

Comprehensibility

The term ‘comprehensibility’ isn’t part of our everyday ELT vocabulary. We’re more used to talking about comprehension in terms of the questions accompanying a reading or listening text we are working on with our students. But ‘comprehensibility’ is a term used in pronunciation that is related to accent and also to intelligibility, and which, together […]

The bilabials /p/, /b/ and /m/

As anyone will know who has studied Latin or who speaks a Romance language, the term ‘bilabial’ comes from bi- (twice, double), and labialis (having to do with the lips). In the pronunciation of English, the three consonant sounds that are made by bringing our lips together are /p/, /b/ and /m/ as in pat, bat and mat, respectively. The action […]

Algeciras?

I was in Seville the other day, bound for Algeciras. The name brought back echoes of my childhood – on Sunday mornings in the 1960s the BBC had a radio programme where families could ask for music for loved ones who were serving abroad with the British Forces. Many of these servicemen and women were […]

The globalization of English: implications for ELT

I’m coming towards the end of a series of articles on the globalization of English, and ELF (English as a lingua franca). They’re being published in Modern English Teacher, and there are five already out there, plus one more to round the series off. The five that are out there are: The globalization of English: implications […]

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 […]