Friday, 10 June 2011

Pronunciation matters!

Yes, there is such a thing as an International English and, yes, it’s good to know that our “Englishes” are accepted and even appreciated for their contribution to worldwide communication. But I’m sure many of us would still agree that good pronunciation is important, not only to speak more clearly and communicate more effectively, but also to discriminate sounds and process language better and more quickly when we hear.

There are quite a few pages with resources to study and practice pronunciation online, and others with nice ideas to use in the classroom. Here’s a short list of resouces I’ve used at different times.

You can listen to and practice minimal pairs, work on stress and watch movies to see how speech organs actually move when producing a sond, among other things. Audio available for British and American accents.

Find a chart with all English sounds and their IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols and short introductions to topics such as sounds and word stress. They also offer specific software to learn and practice (not free and American accent only).

You can find free English pronunciation and accent reduction lessons here. Mostly American English. (By the way, I think podcasts are always a great resource to improve listening skills and pronunciation!).

Downloadable videos and posters to work on different sounds and interactive chart (you click on the chart to listen to the sound).

Plato means Place the Tonic. You listen to an utterance, mark the nuclear tone as you hear it and get feedback. 

Toni helps you recognise English nuclear tones. They use terms I don’t think we use in Argentina any more (like low rise, low fall, etc.) but it’s good to work on the recognition of falling and rising tones.

Audio examples of different speaking styles and regional varieties (British English).

Sandy Millin's blog
Sandy has compiled a very interesting list of authentic listening resources, with accents from around Britain.

Great site from Cambridge English Online. Lots of games and activities.

Pronunciation activities to do with your students (poetry, drama, games).

The necessary question that comes to mind is: how much pronunciation should we teach and practice in our classes and how much progress should we expect?

It’d be great to hear your opinion on this!