Articles and ideas

Many of these Articles have appeared in a variety of English Language Teaching publications and here we continue to write for teachers and colleagues in the field of ELT.

Developing a Positive Attitude Towards Phonemic Symbols

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TEIS Newsletter Dec 22
Mark Hancock IPA tribute to Magritte

Know weigh!

Decoding: The Nitty Gritty of Listening

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Modern English Teacher Volume 29 Issue 4 Oct 2020
Decoding: The Nitty Gritty of Listening -

Most of us have experienced mishearing song lyrics. For example, in Bob Dylan’s song, instead of The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, we might hear The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind. It should come as no surprise that, in our listening classes, what our listeners hear is often similarly surreal! And yet many such mishearings probably go unnoticed.

IPA: Symbols of Power?

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Modern English Teacher 29.3 July 2020
Mark Hancock IPA Symbols of Power
This article, which first appeared in Modern English Teacher 29.3 (July 2020), argues for a more democratic use of the IPA phonemic symbols in English language teaching.

Pronunciation and Privilege

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Pronunciation and Privilege by Mark Hancock
This short article is a reflection on the privilege wrongfully enjoyed by 'native speakers' in the world of ELT.

Pronunciation: muscle, mind, meaning, memory

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English Teaching Professional, issue 22 May 2019
Pronunciation: muscle, mind, meaning, memory -

This article first appeared in English Teaching Professional issue 22 May 2019
Pronunciation straddles two domains: it is part language – like grammar or vocabulary – and part skill – like speaking or listening. This unique position makes pronunciation teaching interestingly varied, and potentially very enjoyable too. It is so much more than the ‘listen-and-repeat’ stereotype that is sometimes attached to it, and can’t be reduced to one single thing in this way. In this article, I will suggest that we can, in fact, divide it into four general areas, and I will label these with a mnemonic of four words, each beginning with m: muscle, mind, meaning and memory.

Humanizing Pronunciation

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Humanising Language Teaching Apr 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 2
Humanizing Pronunciation -

We sometimes dehumanize pronunciation in the way we talk about it. If a learner mispronounces a word, we might say, ‘It isn’t pronounced like that; it’s pronounced …’ (and then we model the ‘correct’ way). In the dictionary, there are transcriptions to tell us how words are pronounced. Talking about weak forms, we might say, ‘In these words, the vowel sound is reduced to a schwa’.

Listening: Problems from Learners' Perspectives

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Humanizing Language Teaching April 2019
Listening: Problems from Learners' Perspectives   -

In this article I talk about problems encountered by students 'doing' listening. I share some results from dictation activities, which have opened windows into listeners' minds and brought the results of listening into the classroom for inspection.

ELF: Beyond Dogma and Denial

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Speak Out issue 60
ELF: Beyond Dogma and Denial -

In this article, I will suggest that following the recognition of English’s role as a global Lingua Franca, there has been an impasse created by two conflicting reactions: dogma and denial. I will discuss the possible implications of ELF for pronunciation teaching goals, and suggest how we can distinguish features which are important for global intelligibility from those which are not.

Top Ten Tips for Teaching Pronunciation

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Special Book Services Blog

1 Know your objective. Pronunciation is about being understood by people all over the globe. It’s not about pretending to be American or British. You don’t need to teach every small detail of the way they speak in the US or UK – very few learners will ever learn that, and there is no reason to anyway. English is a world language now – it doesn’t belong to any particular country.

Pronunciation Teaching Post-ELF

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Pronunciation Teaching Post-ELF -

The article in the PDF below discusses pronunciation teaching and how it needs to be modified in a situation where the target language happens to be the global lingua franca. It originally appeared as a series of blog posts on


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