Category Archives: Pronunciation

Phonology and Pronunciation

Why teach pronunciation?

English is a the major lingua franca globally and more and more people need to use English for various personal and professional purposes in all kinds of contexts.  It is essential that people who use English to communicate have a high level of intelligibility.  Improved pronunciation is acquired through repeated exposure to an environment where the language is spoken, however pronunciation can be improved through instructional input in order to raise awareness.

  • The basics of pronunciation in ELF
  • Vowel Quality: the distinction between long and short vowels is more important than exact vowel quality.
  • Phonetic realisation of consonants: some approximations may lead to intelligibility.
  • Simplifying consonant clusters: deletion of a consonant within a cluster affects intelligibility.
  • Teaching should focus on achieving correct prominence on stressed syllables, rather than weak forms and schwa.
  • Tone groups – failure to use tone groups to divide the stream of speech into meaningful chunks has an effect on intelligibility for the listener.
  • Nucleaur stress – putting prominence on the wrong word in a an utterance will focus the listener’s attention on the wrong place and this may lead to misunderstanding.

Pronunciation teaching works best if the focus is on chunks of speech, such as words, phrases and sentences.  Lessons should involve students in actually speaking, rather than just learning the facts or rules explicitly.  Good teaching principles include setting realistic goals/integrating  pronunciation to listening and speaking skills practice/student centered/helps learners become self-reliant.

  • Teaching Strategies:
  • Description and Analysis: phonemic chart, minimal pairs, transcriptions, kinesthetic activites.
  • Listening: for meaning, listening for weak forms, function, content word identification.
  • Controlled Practice: drills, repetition, reading aloud, role plays
  • Communicative Practice: discussions, speeches, conversations, problem solving, games
  • Assessing Pronunciation
  • Learners needs: identifying students pronunciation requirements.
  • Ongoing feedback: encourage awareness of progress and focus on improvement.
  • Peer Feedback
  • Teacher Feedback
  • File that Sound
  • Goal: To have students identify words under relevant sound using correct word ending rules.
  • Procedure: Have /t/, /d/, /id/, /s/, /z/ and /iz/ headings and students ‘file’ words under the sound that represents for its ending as the word is read out by the teacher.
  • Stand Up Sit Down
  • Write a word on the whiteboard and have students sit in a line.  Each member of the line represents one syllable.  The stressed syllable must stand up.
  • Rhythm through song
  • This is a game to have students identify and differentiate content and function words.
  • Play a song, supply students with information gap activity sheets and have them identify the content and function words in the lyrics.
  • Rhythm Game Dominoes
  • The aim is to have students identify and match rhythm patterns in short phrases.
  • Make some domino cards with different rhythm patterns and have students line up the cards with the same patterns.