|101-007| Why is it important to teach pronunciation?

Hello Exam Seekers,

Today’s post focuses on something that most people – and even teachers – take for granted:

Pronunciation
PRONUNCIATION

If you think about all the skills you usually learn in a language course – listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, functions, and pronunciation – perhaps the one you will remember less of learning is pronunciation.

You might remember the teacher interrupting you or your peers to correct a word or a phrase spoken in the wrong way. However, do you actually remember a whole lesson focused on teaching you pronunciation?

Well, this should not be the scenario of a language course, mainly because learning about pronunciation features and having pronunciation lessons are likely to be as important as any other skill you learn in a course.

‘If you’re not teaching pronunciation, you’re not teaching English’

Sandy Milin

Still, why is pronunciation such a neglected skill after all?

People tend to think that teaching pronunciation is the easiest thing to do. After all, it is not neglected since you always write the words that the students spell incorrectly on the side and spare some minutes of your lesson to correct their pronunciation, right? Are you sure that this is teaching pronunciation?

Perhaps people still underestimate the importance of teaching pronunciation features because they don’t really know that it will make learning the English language easier since many rules and patterns can be established to make fluency and accuracy in pronunciation more achievable than it may seem.

Take a Piss Take a Piece Misunderstanding
Take a Piss/Piece

On the other hand, it might be because it takes a lot of preparation to deliver a pronunciation lesson. You need to think about language analysis carefully, decide on the aspect you want to focus on, and how you will contextualize it to students. Nevertheless, this type of preparation is something that pretty much all lessons should have, right?

More than teaching students how to pronounce isolated words, teachers can work at the sentence level and help students develop their listening skills. When teachers neglect to point out these aspects, they miss the opportunity to raise students’ awareness and make them more independent of their own learning and compromise the development of the learners about communication in a broader sense.

Just so you know, some of the features that can be incorporated into a class are:

  • Word stress;
  • The phonemic chart;
  • Intonation;
  • Sentence stress;
  • Connected speech;
  • Minimal pair;
  • Pausing;
  • Chunking;
  • Rhythm;
  • Suffixes and affixes – and the rules there are for stress.

I usually deal with pronunciation by combining it with listening. There are other ways you can do it, though. For instance, you can

  • work on pronunciation with all new lexis;
  • integrate it with your lessons;
  • use chants, clapping, and songs;
  • say the word in different ways, and use exaggeration;
  • use games, tong twisters, and limericks;
  • ask students to record themselves;
  • use different colored pens, dots, connections, arrows.

There is also the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Make sure you use it with your students to reinforce the different sounds they hear and pronounce. It might scare some teachers, but it is a great alley when teaching pronunciation.

Pronunciation chart

Here is a list of online tools to help you work with/teach pronunciation:

And here is a list of books focused on working with pronunciation (if you want to get these books in Brazil, I’ll leave the links at the bottom of the page, the links below are for purchases abroad):

One last thing, Adrian Underhill, is a world-renowned ELT Consultant and Trainer, who takes a practical approach to teaching pronunciation in this video from Macmillan ELT. You will learn new ways to help your students work on English sounds, words and connected speech. Take a look:

Adrian Underhill on Successful Pronunciation 1 (Macmillan) 1/4 video

I will talk more extensively about all these features soon. Especially because teaching pronunciation is part of teaching speaking in the ICELT course. Stay tuned! However, if you are still in doubt if you should teach pronunciation or not, watch this video:

Taken from Sandy Milin’s Pronunciation- What, Why, When, How?

Now, what about you? How do you deal with pronunciation in your lessons? Share in the comments below.

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That’s it for today! Please like the post and follow the blog on:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!!!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura

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