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    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 6

    Better ways to teach pronunciation.

    'lo fellow forum users,

    Please help me to find ways to better inform myself about how I can teach pronunciation more effectively.

    As an English pronunciation teacher I observe many acquirers/learners with good English grammar, reading and writing skills. Sadly, their English pronunciation is often not listener-friendly enough to keep American native speakers engaged in conversation.

    I want to find ways to better help them to acquire more listener-friendly pronunciation in the classroom, to develop more confidence and motivation, and get out and converse much more with native speakers, where the greatest second language acquisition occurs.

    Where might I look for a “supercharged immersion boot camp” situation where they might acquire listener-friendly pronunciation faster then usual?

    Tyvm for your help.

    kind regards,


  1. #2

    Re: Better ways to teach pronunciation.

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    I would try to address serious pronunciation problems on three fronts.

    (1)The alphabet and phonetic symbols

    Many language learners become quite advanced in reading and writing while retaining only a foggy notion of the relationship between the symbols of English writing and their pronunciation.

    For these students they should be introduced to the nuance and difference between each symbol and combination thereof. This can be tedious and difficult, but is necessary to the mechanical understanding of pronunciation, especially if a majority of their ideas about how words should be pronounced comes from writing.

    This has the potential to be incredibly boring but is just plain necessary, just like a musician has to learn all the rules of written music although technically she or he may play an instrument without it.

    (2)Listening ability

    If a native speaker were to go deaf, his or her speaking ability would suffer and decline into near unintelligibility in months. The reason being that they can't hear themselves speak.

    I would argue that listening ability plays the first role in our pronunciation with mechanical oral ability coming in a close second. Reasonably, if someone cannot hear the difference between words with similar pronunciation, or their slight mispronunciation of a sound, they cannot reproduce this difference correctly.

    A great amount of exposure to the spoken language is required indeed, but this can come from movies or music/songs (books on tape, perhaps?) just as well as speech, and may be more entertaining. Not only this, but I find that stress and intonation tend to be slightly exaggerated in song and performance, and so are easier to pick up.

    Not to mention, all language learners I have known with exceptional pronunciation who have not had a lot of personal exposure to native speakers usually watch a considerable amount of television in the target language or listen to music of the same.

    (3)Recording one's voice

    Easily the most difficult practise to encourage, we all have grand illusions as to the rich and musical sound of our own voice, which are often shattered when we hear it in recording. This is perhaps even more reason to do this exercise.

    Some tape and CD players specifically designed for language study provide a function whereby the learner can record their voice for direct comparison with the recorded material, but this can easily be set up by any determined student.

    Finally, a consideration for ability.

    Like musical ability, some people just naturally show talent for learning the sounds of language where others do not. As native speakers we often ignore the systematically flawed pronunciation of other native speakers but on observation can point it out easily enough.

    Some people never even master the sounds of their own language, which is odd. Others do fine with pronunciation of their own language but fail miserably when introduced to a second (Jackie Chan who I revere comes to mind).

    Also, we must factor in age, I have heard people who begin learning language in adolescence never completely lose an accent. You might not want to undertake an impossible mission.

    Still, movies like "My Fair Lady" and my own personal experience (I started learning Mandarin at 21 and now four years later can fool native speakers on the phone into thinking I'm Chinese. Granted, I spent those years living among native speakers.) show us that exceptions are possible.

    I hope this has been helpful.

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 3

    Re: Better ways to teach pronunciation.

    I employ several strategies. The 1st simple and very effective strategy is to have your students talk very slowly with a significant pause between words. This gives the listener more time to process the speakers words. This leads to instant positive feedback and more confidence. Each language has it's own set of sounds in English that it has trouble with E.G. the 'th' for Spanish speakers. My 2ond little 'trick' is to have students write sound clues in their own alphabet next to words containing these difficult sounds and then practice saying them. I teach phonics to my students, but it's not our main focus. Conversational fluency is what they all want and need, so that is on what we spend 2/3 of the class time.
    I hope this has been helpful,

  2. Soup's Avatar
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    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 5,853

    Re: Better ways to teach pronunciation.

    elbe, you need to look into intonation and stress.
    They hold the key to better pronunciation.

    Google these,

    intonation actvities

    intonation exercises

    intonation and stress

  3. #5

    Re: Better ways to teach pronunciation.

    Elbe: I hope this may help you and your students: I've written 300 new poems to which I have added my own clear English voice recording. Many of the poems are rhyming poems and students will see quite clearly that words such as: sigh/sky threw/blue/through; and hundreds more, may be spelt differently, but they are pronounced with the same vowel sound. Writing poetry is my hobby (I write almost every day), and local children asked me to put the poems on the internet for them, with my voice recording attached, to help them with their problem of reading English. Of course, they have the same problem as ESL students. Now I find that students from all over the world are using my poems, reading along with me, and pronouncing the words in the correct way. Since I put the poems onto the internet last year, almost 22000 people have been there, so I guess they are popular. If you write "Josie Whitehead - Poetry" on Google, you will find the website easily. A poem is short enough to be slotted into a lesson, or prepared at home the night before for recitation. I go into schools and the children love to recite or even dramatise the poems. One of my poems "The Winter Picnic" was sang by a little group, and another group did it to "rap" which was quite fun. The rhythm and rhyming are very effective when learning a language, and that is one of the reasons why our own children learn English at an early age using Nursery Rhymes. It is a fun way to learn and I have written several articles on how poetry helps with language learning. Although many of the poems are for children, adults will love them too, and it will introduce them to new vocabulary such as they won't get in textbooks, in a fun way. Do let me know if it is useful, and let others know. The website is:

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 10

    Re: Better ways to teach pronunciation.

    Well,anyone Plz Tell Me How Can I Learn Phonitex.

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 1

    Re: Better ways to teach pronunciation.


    i just want to practice my vocabulary.. and i want to improve my american accent.. i hope you can help me because im planning to apply at call center company.. thanks! more power..


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