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Books of activities for teaching pronunciation

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Books of activities for teaching pronunciation

These are books of activity ideas for teachers, not textbooks that would be used directly by students.

  • Pronunciation Games, Mark Hancock, Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN #0-521-46735-7. Lots of photocopiable games, mainly at a beginning to intermediate level. Based on British English pronunciation.

  • Pronunciation Practice Activities, Martin Hewings, Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN #0-521-75457-7. Comes with a CD of exercises. Based on British English pronunciation.

  • Primary Pronunciation Box, Caroline Nixon and Michael Tomlinson, Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN #978-0521545457. Comes with a CD. Based on British pronunciation.

  • New Ways in Teaching Speaking, Kathleen M. Bailey and Lance Savage, editors, TESOL, 1994. ISBN #0-939791-54-4. Contains a chapter about pronunciation practice activities.

  • New Ways in Teaching Listening, David Nunan and Lindsay Miller, editors, TESOL, 1995. ISBN #0-939791-58-7. Contains a chapter about activities for teaching pronunciation through listening.



Notes/holding pages

Add captions to tables so they’re labeled in portrait view. But the borders get really weird in landscape view.

Add examples to blue sound thing. Re-record sound.

Add review quizzes

Where to put -s and -ed endings?

Pronunciation of –s endings

(“Add a sound or add a syllable” vs. “/s/, /z/, or /´z/”)

Pronunciation of –ed endings

(“Add a sound or add a syllable” vs. “/t/, /d/, or /´d/”)

Cf. adjectives ending in –ed (blessed, crooked)

Pronunciation of -ing endings

Some words can have more than one pronunciation, either varying by dialect (tomato, schedule) or by individual preference (either, neither, data, economics)

Top 10 myths/misconceptions/misunderstandings about pronunciation

  • Phonics is pronunciation

  • “English is not a phonetic language”

  • Korean/Japanese/my language doesn’t have intonation

  • Koreans can’t learn to pronounce English perfectly because their mouths are a different shape. The short tongue thing.

  • Long/short vowels. The difference between /iy/ and /I/ is that /iy/ is long and /I/ is short. That’s all.

  • Korean/Japanese/Spanish/whatever has a perfect writing system. There is a complete one-to-one correspondence between symbols and sounds. On the other hand, English spelling is totally chaotic.

  • Korean doesn’t have different allophones for each phoneme. (They do, but Korean speakers don’t notice it any more than native speakers of English notice the variations in sounds, until they’re pointed out.)

  • I don’t really have to know how to teach pronunciation. We’ve got a website/software program that will do it for me. And hey, pronunciation isn’t really important anyway.

  • I can’t teach pronunciation because my pronunciation isn’t perfect.

  • Magic exists. All I have to do is find the right method, and all my problems will be solved.

  • All learners want to have good pronunciation.

  • You have to be a native speaker of English to teach English pronunciation well.

Differences between NAE and RP consonants and vowels

  • Actual differences in sounds and the system of sounds

  • Differences in how phonologists analyze sounds, especially diphthongs, vowel length

Make phoneme keynote into the one with example words. Schwa doesn’t work. Take out “exit.” (the blue box thing)

Make vowel, consonant charts interactive--touch a symbol and hear the sound (Keynote)?

What aspects of pronunciation cause problems for students?

Every language has its weird bits, not just English.

The dangers of katakana English, etc.

  • “Do we need to teach our students to distinguish all those sounds, even the hard ones? What about children?”

  • You don’t learn something once and you’re done. You have to keep practicing, the same topic again and again, but in different ways.

  • Warnings about dangerous mistakes (sit, sheet, beach, city, etc.)?

OK, so English pronunciation isn’t always easy. It has some sounds that many other languages don’t, and its consonant clusters are a pain in the neck. But it could be worse. Look at the things English doesn’t have. It doesn’t have any ejectives, implosives, or clicks. It doesn’t have a tone system. It doesn’t have phonemic vowel length (no, it doesn’t). Its consonant clusters aren’t as bad as some in Russian. So stop complaining.

Open your mouth. Slow down.

What to put in your pronunciation toolbox

Sources of pronunciation teaching supplies with links. Also link to updated list on teachingpronunciation website

Mouth exercises? Other speech therapist stuff?

Functional load

Diagnostic tests, testing pronunciation

Problems of particular language groups and what to do about them?


Add individual parts of articulatory system, manner of articulation, place of articulation

Add illustrations for some?

Demo videos:

How do you “introduce the phoneme inventory” if you’re teaching children or complete beginners? How do you reintroduce it for more advanced learners? What’s the difference? (Videos showing somebody doing this would be valuable.)

Short videos showing the difference between pairs of sounds (l/r, z/zh/dzh, etc.) Showing how to use the big teeth to illustrate different sounds.

Videos showing how to demonstrate sounds with various tools, using feathers, rubber bands, etc. Very short clips--maybe only one minute. Explain what point you’re going to demonstrate, what tool you’re using, and why it’s appropriate. Show how to do it. Use a real student in the video? Build a whole library of little clips. Guard them against people who want to link to them or borrow them.

Examples or “scripts” of how you would explain a point or introduce a sound to young children, older children, high school, adults, or whatever. Maybe three groups, different age and ability levels.

Difference between rhythm and intonation--Use recording of song with drums and a violin melody. Play just the drums--rhythm. Play just the violin--intonation. Both together=the whole pattern of the music.

How not to teach pronunciation. (Give a technical explanation of the sound, play a video from YouTube explaining the sound, practice a few words, do difficult and meaningless tongue twisters)

Add chapter on dialects of English?

  • Pin/pen

  • Weather/whether

  • Cot/caught

  • Canadian vowels

  • That weird frontish /a/ in the upper Midwest

  • British/American?

You’re not their only teacher: What if another teacher got to my students first and did it all wrong? How can I undo their bad teaching? How can I do it without seeming to put down the other teacher, who might very well be one of my colleagues? How can I help my students guard against their future teachers who might have bad pronunciation or try to get them to form bad habits? (Yes, it does happen.) The other teachers might misunderstand, or their own pronunciation might be really bad.

You can’t capitalize phonemic symbols. You have to write them exactly as they are. /R/ might be a totally different symbol than /r/. To be really correct, you should even be careful of the exact way you write letters. /a/ is not /ɑ/. /g/ is not /ɡ/.

Sometimes we’re going to talk about language rules, or say that a language allows something. This doesn’t mean that there are written rules forbidding some things. The rules are subconscious and exist in speakers’ brains. Linguists can only observe what people say and make generalizations from what they hear. They can’t make rules about what a language should be like. Nobody sat down and planned the rules, told everybody what the rules were, and then waited for them to obey. Nope.

Eg: Different languages also have different restrictions on what kinds of syllables and consonant combinations are possible. Some languages don’t have consonant clusters at all. Others have fewer clusters than English, or they allow different combinations of consonants.

From Consonant chapter:

List of sounds lots of people have trouble with?

Consonant chart superimposed on mouth diagram?

Little recording of words with /hw/ and /w/?

Note about difference between American English and British English /r/ in words like butter and word? In consonant or vowel chapter?

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