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Teaching Pronunciation in the ESL Classroom. Questions to Consider. How do we define correct pronunciation? What “pronunciation” goals should we set for our S s ? H ow do we remain sensitive to the needs of our Ss when teaching pronunciation?

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Questions to Consider

  • How do we define correct pronunciation?
  • What “pronunciation” goals should we set for our Ss?
  • How do we remain sensitive to the needs of our Sswhen teaching pronunciation?
    • Need to be understood, varying desires to achieve better pronunciation, embarrassment about poor pronunciation

Pronunciation in the Language Classroom

  • The number of Non-Native English Speakers is increasing.
  • English Pronunciation can differ depending upon where it is learned.
  • Comprehensibility is important. In other words, it is important that our Ss can understand others, and other people can understand our Ss.
  • Studying pronunciation can help Ss improve their ability to hear intonation and sound patterns which will in turn help them improve their listening skills and ability to decipher underlying meaning.
  • The ability to pronounce words properly is difficult for language learners because they actually have to train their muscles to produce sounds and sound patterns that may not exist in their native language.

Pronunciation for Comprehensibility

English is spoken around the world. Australians pronounce words differently than Americans. Americans pronounce words differently than British speakers of English. Our goal is to understand and to be understood. We want to speak English in order to communicate with one another effectively.

When we work on pronunciation, our goal does not have to be to have perfect American pronunciation. Our goals are to understand others and to be understood!


Benefits of Pronunciation

  • People understand us better
  • We understand others and improve our listening skills
  • We improve our writing and note-taking skills

When to Teach Pronunciation

  • Designated Class Time
  • As it Comes up

What Pronunciation Issues Should Be Addressed?

What pronunciation errors do you continually hear in your classrooms?

2. Determine how seriously these pronunciation errors

interfere with intelligibility.

3. Decide your pronunciation priorities. “How important is

covering the pronunciation feature for Ss’

communication needs?” Analyzing pronunciation issues that

negatively affect Ss’ intelligibility can help you prioritize

areas for improvement

4. Research the matter


Teacher’s Goal

You can use explicit instruction when teaching pronunciation with the purpose of helping Ssrecognize aspects of pronunciation patterns involved in speech. Raising awareness of various sounds and sound patterns can help Sswith comprehensibility.

In addition, encouraging Ssto practice sound patterns when they are away from the classroom is important.

Teaching aims to enable Ssto develop strategies for coping on their own and for continuing to learn.


Pronunciation Issues

  • Native Language Transfer
  • No Sound Equivalent in the Student’s L1
  • Learner Motivation
  • Age and Aptitude
  • Accent Identity: Sociocultural Factors
  • Differing L1s in the Classroom Setting
  • Fossilized Errors
  • Speech Impediments
  • Past English Language Learning Environment

How to Address Issues

  • Accent exposure
  • Rough tune your speech
  • Teach that making mistakes is a part of the learning process
  • Encourage Ssto practice what they have learned
  • outside of the classroom environment
  • Exploit knowledge of Ss’ L1s to address areas of difficulty in their L2 (if possible)
  • Read Ss’ body posturing and facial expressions to determine whether to further address areas of difficulty or to move past them
  • Teach students how to analyze their own speech

Teaching Pronunciation

  • Present: Raise students’ awareness
  • Practice: Engage in controlledpractice
  • Production: Produce language in a more communicative, less controlled manner
  • NOTE: This could extend over the course of several lessons. You may have to revisit the topic much more than once. Once you see that learners have gained control, you can then have Ss use the newly acquired feature in more creative, communicative exchanges.

Teaching Pronunciation

Segmental Level

  • Segmentals: inventory of vowel and consonant sounds

Segmental Level: Inventory of Sounds

  • Phoneme: Individual Sounds /M/, /N/
  • Vowel: Sound produced when the flow of air from the lungs is not blocked and the vocal chords are vibrating. Changing the position of the tongue can produce different vowel sounds.
  • Consonants: Sounds made by blocking the air flow coming from the lungs.
  • Consonant Clusters: Consonant Combination /TCH/, /CH/, /SH/, /BR/
  • Diphthong: Combination of two vowel sounds put together /OU/, /AI/

Teaching Pronunciation

Initial Approach: Ss have to develop muscle memory.Some sound patterns made in English do not exist in other languages; therefore, Ss have to learn the mechanics. As a result, achieving proper pronunciation can be very challenging.

Teach Mechanics of Articulation: The goal is to teach Sswhat their lips (shape), tongue, jaw (relaxed/not relaxed), teeth, and air flow are doing in order to producesound so that Ss can try to recreate the sound.

Purpose: Drawing attention to the way that particular sounds are made can help Ssrecognize how to reproduce sound. Bring awareness through teaching with the intention of giving Ssthe tools to practice on their own.


Teaching Techniques

  • Mechanical Reproduction
  • Tongue Twisters
  • Songs
  • Poems
  • Listening Discrimination
  • Dictation Exercises
  • Speaking and Listening Groups
  • Voiced vs. Voiceless

Manner of Articulation Sounds in English http://www.slideshare.net/jdspider/manner-of-articulation


Teaching Techniques

  • Teaching Aids: Use the internet, the board, a sagittal diagram, mirrors, speakers, recordings, etc.
  • Minimal Pairs: A pair of words that differ by only one sound
  • Identification DrillContrast Vowels: pan vs. pen land vs. lend
  • Contrast Consonants: thank vs. sank thick vs. sick
  • Isolation
  • bit beat beat beat
  • tan tan ten tan
  • pool pool pool pull
  • Sentences
  • John bit the dog.
  • John beat the dog.
  • Show me your bag.
  • Show me your back.

Voiced vs. Voiceless

Voiced: There is vibration in your throat. You can hear the sound. (All Vowel Sounds and B, G, L, M, N, R, V, Y, Z and voiced TH)

Voiceless: There is no vibration in your throat. You cannot hear the sound. You hear the manipulation of air.(F, K, P, S, ­SH, ­TCH, X, or voiceless TH)

Let’s Compare:

  • F/V
  • P/B
  • K/G
  • T/D

Teaching Voiced vs. Voiceless helps when teaching the following:

  • Words that end with /-S/ or /-ES/
  • Words that end with /-D/ or /-ED/

/F/ & /V/

  • Description and Analysis
  • Discrimination Practice
  • Controlled Practice
  • Guided Practice
  • Communicative Practice

/F/ & /V/

  • Practice Reading with your Partner
  • I carry flowers in my van.
  • Mr. Ford votes on bills.
  • Friday is a very special day.
  • Feel free to drive to Virginia in Bob’s van.

/F/ & /V/


3 Fan fan van

2 Veil fail veil

3 Face face vase

2 Very ferry very


/F/ & /V/

Teacher Dictation

I have four volleyballs.

The funny man drove his van very fast.

I bet Fran went to the vet.


/F/ & /V/

Partner Dictation

I have a fancy vase full of violet flowers for my very special lover.


/F/ & /V/

Partner Dictation

I was very sad when Fran flew to France for a volleyball tournament on Valentines Day.


Short /I/ & Long /E/

0 fit 5 feet

1 ship 6 sheep

2 chip 7 cheap

3 rid 8 read

4 pitch 9 peach

224-5539: chip chip pitch feet feet rid peach



Pronunciation Rules: Regular Past Tense Verbs

When aregular verb ends with a voiced sound, the ­ed ending is pronounced /d/.

When aregular verb ends in an unvoicedsound, the ­ed ending is pronounced /t/.

The ­ed ending is pronounced /id/ when the verb ends in the sounds /t/ and /d/.


Pronunciation Improvement Tips

  • Learners acquire languages most effectively when they are active participants
  • Encourage independent, pair and small group work
  • Explain to Ss that errors are a natural part of the learning process
  • Provide Ss with feedback, but don’t interrupt the flow of speech
  • Encourage Ssto watch the mouths of speakers and to listen to native speakers’ pronunciation patterns and imitate what they hear

Teaching Pronunciation

Suprasegmental Level

  • Suprasegmentals: covers more than one sound segment. The suprasegmental level of pronunciation focuses upon features of stress, rhythm, intonation, and connected speech. There is emphasis on discourse context and the speaker’s intent.

Pronunciation: Suprasegmental Level

  • Stress: Degree of force or loudness you give to a syllable in a word or to words in a phrase or sentence. Stress provides the rhythm of the language and intonation provides the melody.
  • Rhythm: The way a language sounds as a result of the pattern of stress and unstressed syllables in speech.
  • Intonation:The way the voice goes up and down over a line of speech: the music of speech.
  • Pitch:The level (high or low) at which we speak. We can change the pitch of our voice to give a certain message. Pitch is crucial for getting our meaning across.
  • “Yes” can mean “I agree, maybe, you can’t be serious, you are so right” just by the pitch used.
  • Connected Speech: The way we blend words together (gonna, wanna, hafta)

Teaching Pronunciation

Initial Approach: Every language has a system of sounds, stress, and intonation patterns that give it a rhythm and melody. When speech is unintelligible, conversation becomes difficult. Improper intonation can cause speakers to be perceived as abrupt or even rude. Learning to recognize stress and intonation patterns can help learners understand and be understood.

Teach Mechanics: We want to teach Ss what intonation, stress, rhythm, etc. are, and allow Ss to recognize and practice patterns in speech.

Purpose: By studying how to use pitch, intonation, stress, rhythm, Sscan develop an “ear” for language and how to use pronunciation patterns when speaking. Bringing awareness will help students to begin to recognize these patterns. This can in turn help them to understand underlying meaning.


Teaching Techniques

  • Script Practice
  • Pair Work
  • Listening Discrimination
  • Recorded Dialogue
  • Speaking and Listening Groups
  • Story Telling
  • Nursery Rhymes
  • Poems
  • Ballads

Teaching Techniques

  • Teaching Aids: Tapping, clapping, drawing symbols to show stress or arrows to show intonation; Using kazoos, rubber bands, hand gesturing, and recording voice; practicing scripts pair scripts, etc.
  • The rhythm of English moves from stress to stress no matter how many unstressed syllables fall in between.
  • Tap out a beat; keep the beat the same for all four examples. Reduce the function words or say them quickly.
  • the MEN will FIGHT WARS
  • The MEN will FIGHT the WARS. Keep the rhythm

Teaching Techniques


There are multiple ways to say the same thing. Meaning can depend upon context:

Jazz Chants Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAYwoLZso7s


Let’s Practice

“It’s warm in here.”

Request for someone to open the window

You have been outside in the cold and you just came in the house

You are unsure if it is warm in a particular room, so you phrase it as a question

Express agreement


Intonation: Partner Dialogue

A: Hi, how are you?

B: Fine, thank you. And you?

A: Just great. So, what have you been doing lately?

B: Oh, not much. But I've been keeping busy.

A: Well...it's been good to see you.

B: You too...bye!

A: Goodbye.



Intonation: Dialogue Scenarios

1) Two people who have just met but don't really know each other, and feel obligated to engage in small talk in the elevator

2) A sick person in a hospital and a friend who visits

3) Two people who have trouble hearing clearly
4) A single man and woman who are shy but attracted to one another

5) A single man attracted to a woman who is not attracted to him
6) An intimidating teacher and a student who is nervous to see the teacher

7) Two people who were angry at each other and just saw each other for the first time in years, but who are trying to act nice

8) A landlord and his overdue tenant


Pronunciation Resources

  • Manner of Articulation of Sounds in English: http://www.slideshare.net/jdspider/manner-of-articulation
  • Anatomy of Articulators: http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/anatomy.htmhttp://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/index.html#
  • Speech Accent Archive: http://accent.gmu.edu/resources.php
  • English Pronunciation & Listening: http://international.ouc.bc.ca/pronunciation/
  • Pronunciation at eslflow.com: http://www.eslflow.com/pronunciationlessonplans.html
  • American Clear Speech Sounds: http://www.paulnoll.com/Books/Clear-Speech/index.html
  • ESL Pronunciation at rong-chang.comhttp://www.rong-chang.com/pronunciation.htmhttp://www.rong-chang.com/mjc/pronunciation/

Closing Questions

  • Can pronunciation times be planned?
  • Can pronunciation be gone over as it comes up?
  • What are some methods you can use to teach pronunciation?


Youtube.com/BridgeTEFL. (Producer). (2009). Teaching Pronunciation with Jazz Chants - TEFLVideos.com[Internet Video]. Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAYwoLZso7s

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Goodwin, J. M. (2010) Teaching pronunciation: A reference for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. Cambridge University Press.