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.

Pronunciation: muscle, mind, meaning, memory

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English Teaching Professional, issue 22 May 2019
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

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
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

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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Publication: 
Humanizing Language Teaching April 2019
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

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
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

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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Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

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 PronPack.com.

Micro-Drilling

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English Teaching Professional issue 115
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

John Field, in Listening in the Language Classroom (CUP 2008) suggested that the traditional comprehension approach to listening tests the product of listening but does nothing to teach the process.

Motivation Island

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Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

Motvation Island is a map of ideas that teachers can explore when looking for new strategies to motivate their classes. Download a copy of the map below, a colour slide for powerpoints, and a two-page article explaining the map.

The Art of the Chart

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IATEFL Pronsig "Speak Out" Issue 54
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

Most teachers of English will have come across a sound chart at some point, but few realise how arbitrary they are. I do not mean 'arbitrary' in the negative sense of 'with no good reason', but rather in the sense that there are choices that the designer has had to make. At every stage in the creation of a chart, the author will have made decisions which could equally well have been otherwise.

Cat Got you Tongue

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English Teaching Professional
Articles - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas

Follow this link for my article on imagining the tongue as a cat in vowel sounds work:

https://www.etprofessional.com/cat_got_your_tongue_25769820737.aspx

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