What are pronunciation workouts?
Pronunciation workouts are extended drills focusing on specific areas of English pronunciation. Think of them like the scales and other exercises which pianists use to improve their fingering technique. Or like a fitness workout which a gymnast might use to tone the muscles. But in the case of pronunciation, it’s the vocal articulators which are getting trained – the tongue, lips, jaw and vocal chords.
What are the benefits of doing these workouts?
The workouts can benefit learners in two different ways – practice and perception.
Practice: The workouts can help the mouth muscles to get accustomed to the unfamiliar movements required to speak in English. New skills are often very difficult at first, but with practice, we gradually get used to them. Think of driving, for example.
Perception: The workouts help learners to notice features of English pronunciation. Because the target pronunciation feature is repeated so often in the workout, it becomes much more obvious. The learner becomes familiar with how it sounds, and how it feels to articulate it. To return to the music metaphor, playing exercises on the piano help the learner develop an intuitive sense of how the notes sound relative to one another, and how the fingers feel while playing them on the keyboard.
What aspects of pronunciation are covered?
The earlier workouts in the book focus on the sound system of English. They serve to familiarize the learners with the system as a whole by exploring the PronPack Soundchart. They explore different regions of the system, such as the short vowels or the stop consonants, and they help the learner to become more aware of the articulators in the mouth and vocal tract. The later workouts in the book focus on suprasegmental features such as word stress, connected speech and tonic stress.