Pronunciation in Practice

Martin Hewings
Event date: 
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 08:45
TESOL Arabia pre-conference event
Dubai, UAE
Extra info: 
Plus downloads
Pronunciation -

General overview

The course will have two broad themes: in the morning, we will look on pronunciation teaching at different levels of ability, and in the afternoon, we will look at integrating pronunciation teaching into the English language syllabus. The focus will be on practical activities, but at the same time, we will see how these classroom tasks fit together into an overall pronunciation course, and how they are informed by theory. We will consider the importance of motivating learners by demonstrating the usefulness of the features they are learning, and we will take account of the fact that pronunciation is not only a productive skill, but a receptive one too. We will also look at recent research on the role of pronunciation in communication and on pronunciation improvement, highlighting implications for teaching and learning. At the end of the day, participants will come away with a tool kit of materials and task types for use in the classroom, together with a clear idea of how to present these in a way which will be useful and meaningful for learners.

Session 1    Teaching pronunciation to lower level students

In teaching pronunciation to lower level students, the keys are simplicity and usefulness. In this session, we will look at how complex features of phonology can be simplified into memorable, bite-sized classroom activities, and we will see how these activities can fit into a syllabus for lower level students. We will also see how tasks can be presented in such a way that emphasis is given to pronunciation as a resource in making meaning, rather than simply ‘teaching it because it’s there’, to ensure that learners can see the communicative utility of what they are learning.

Browse here to see some of the activities and teacher's notes from this session.

Session 2    Teaching pronunciation to advanced level students

Advanced level students will have been working on their English pronunciation for many years, so what more do they need? Here are some possibilities: strategies for diagnosing their own weaknesses; ways of making their speech more fluent; observing features of the pronunciation of others that they may not have noticed or been taught before; and varying their pronunciation in different settings, such as in formal presentations and informal conversation. We will explore these needs and look at a range of techniques for helping advanced level students improve their pronunciation.

Session 3    Integrating pronunciation and listening

Pronunciation is not only about the mouth, but also the ears. And, with English being a global language, the ears must learn to be flexible in order to make sense of all those varieties of spoken English out there. This session is about helping learners to deal with this variety. We focus on features of fast conversational English, and on parameters which are most vulnerable to variation across different accents. We also look at ways of exploiting authentic audio in the classroom.

Session 4    Integrating pronunciation and grammar

We’ll begin by looking at where pronunciation has traditionally found a home in a grammatical syllabus, such as in pronouncing –ed in past tense endings. Recent work, however, has highlighted the distinctive features of spoken rather than written grammar. These include the frequent use of ‘headers’ in conversational English; compare Is this coat yours? and the more conversational This coat, is it yours? We’ll go on to look at spoken grammar and how to teach its characteristic pronunciation features.


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