A Map of Pronunciation Teaching

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IATEFL Pronunciation SIG newsletter 'Speak Out', Issue 50, Feb 2014
A Map of Pronunciation Teaching

There is an Indian parable in which a number of blind men set out to discover what an elephant is like. Each feels a different part of the
animal and comes away with an entirely different impression of its form. For example, the one who touches the trunk thinks its like a snake; the one who touches  it’s tusk think it’s all hard and bony. I sometimes feel something similar happens in our field of pronunciation teaching. How can accent and identity, jazz chants and discourse intonation possibly be part of the same animal? It’s easy to become blind to the whole. But is this a problem? After all, to make any important advances in any field, we have to specialize.

My answer is that, while it may not be a problem for the specialist, it is for the teacher. The teacher must weigh up all the different angles and approaches which compete for attention and make considered, pragmatic choices. The teacher needs to see the whole elephant at once, so to speak, or to change the metaphor: the teacher needs a bird’s-eye view of the whole territory – a map. I have attempted to create such a map, and in this article from IATEFL Pronsig's Speak Out magazine Issue 50, I present and explain it.

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