CLASSROOM MATERIALS

Pronunciation Handbook for Teachers

Check out the guide Teaching Pronunciation: A Handbook for Teachers & Trainers. This excellent handbook, put together by the New South Wales Department of Education & Training, has many helpful pointers for teaching English pronunciation to adult learners. Click here to access the handbook (PDF format).

The handbook includes the following four best practices to keep in mind while teaching pronunciation:

1) Pronunciation teaching works better if the focus is on larger chunks
of speech, such as words, phrases and sentences, than if the focus
is on individual sounds and syllables. This does not mean that
individual sounds and syllables should never be referred to; it simply
means that the general focus should be on the larger units.

2) Pronunciation lessons work best if they involve the students in
actually speaking, rather than in just learning facts or rules of
pronunciation. Many students of course feel more comfortable
learning the rules of the language, because it is less threatening than
actually speaking. However, the transfer of explicit knowledge of
rules into pronunciation practice is very limited. Teachers need to devise
activities which require pronunciation classes.

3) Learning pronunciation requires an enormous amount of practice,
especially at early stages. It is not unreasonable for learners to
repeat a particular phrase or sentence twenty or fifty times before
being really comfortable with it. Unfortunately, ‘drilling’ has been out
of favor in language classes for some time, due to association with
several bad aspects of the behaviorist method of teaching. Indeed
some forms of drilling are at best a waste of time, and can even be a
hindrance to learning. However, drilling of real, useful phrases which
can actually be used outside the classroom is highly advantageous
to learners.

4) Pronunciation teaching requires thorough preparation through work
on the perception of English sounds and contrasts, and the formation
of concepts of English phonology.

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