Many teachers, especially if they are new to teaching ESL classes, may be a little intimated by the prospect of having to teach pronunciation. But, just like almost every thing else, if the process is broken down into small manageable steps, the task is not all that daunting. This site is an attempt to do just that- to break the process of teaching pronunciation down into smaller steps.
Why is proper pronunciation important? Because without correct pronunciation- no matter how vast the students vocabulary may be, no matter how well the student understands and uses grammatical rules, no matter what their level of reading or writing skills may be- if they don’t use correct pronunciation it may be very difficult for listeners to understand what they say. And that is a huge hindrance to communication. In addition, some research indicates that if a student can not pronounce a word correctly, they may not be able to hear it when spoken by another person either, which furthers hinders communication.
Students from different languages have different pronunciation difficulties. Not all sounds in the English language are common to other languages. For example, some languages do not have an ‘r’ sound, so students use a similar sound ‘l’ instead. So when a students says “What a lovely libbon”, the native English is totally confused. Or maybe in a student’s native tongue there is no distinction between ‘b’ and ‘p’. Just imagine the misunderstanding that will result if a teachers says “I need to be on that bus” and the student hears “I need to pee on that bus”.
When teaching pronunciation, teachers are giving feedback to their student about how they are saying things. This feedback includes what the problem is and what they need to do to correct it. This feedback may include where to place the tongue in the mouth to say particular words, or how the lips should be formed, or the action of the tongue when saying specific sounds.
Mastering proper pronunciation is not just a matter of learning individual sounds. Many students can hear and make the different sounds for all the vowels and consonants in English. Unfortunately, they also have to contend with the sound changes that occur with different letter combinations resulting from linking or reduction of vowels and consonants, not to mention stress, pitch, and intonation differences between their native tongue and English.
That’s basically all there is to teaching pronunciation- giving feedback and ensuring that the student uses the feedback to improve their speaking skills. That along with providing adequate practice to the students to hear the sounds AND practice making the sounds. Remember (as some research implies) if a student can’t say a sound, they won’t be able to hear it either.
Below is a list of the topics that are covered in this site. Just click on the link and go to that page. Each page will have examples of correct pronunciation of the topic chosen.