Ancient and modern pronunciations
The importance of teaching English pronunciation. Modelling, listening and pronunciation. Correcting learners’ pronunciation mistakes, Without Hurting. Mistakes Made During Discussions and Activities. Problems of correcting students’ pronunciation.
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Îòïðàâèòü ñâîþ õîðîøóþ ðàáîòó â áàçó çíàíèé ïðîñòî. Èñïîëüçóéòå ôîðìó, ðàñïîëîæåííóþ íèæå
Ñòóäåíòû, àñïèðàíòû, ìîëîäûå ó÷åíûå, èñïîëüçóþùèå áàçó çíàíèé â ñâîåé ó÷åáå è ðàáîòå, áóäóò âàì î÷åíü áëàãîäàðíû.
This course paper deals with new ways and methods of correcting students' pronunciation mistakes. Teaching English pronunciation is important and actual nowadays, so problems of teaching pronunciation and correcting students' mistakes in pronouncing are discovered in this course paper. There are a variety of good methods and techniques suggested for correcting learners' errors on the spot. Mistakes are part of our life; we all make mistakes now and then. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as we learn from them and avoid repeating them over and over. Additional information has been obtained from the literature on the subject, to verify and assess the findings of the present study. Introduction deals with the description of such items as: actuality of the problem, the aim, the objects, the subject, the tasks, the methods, the sources.
Theoretical part deals with the perceptions of The importance of teaching English pronunciation, Modelling pronunciation, Aspects of pronunciation, The Role of Teaching Pronunciation in FLT.
Practical part deals with the correcting learners' pronunciation mistakes, the ways and methods of correcting students pronunciation mistakes, Correcting Without Hurting, Exercises for the Pronunciation of Plurals for English second language.
Conclusion deals with the summary of all practical materials concerning the correcting learners' pronunciation mistakes.
1. The importance of teaching English pronunciation
1.1 Ancient and Modern Pronunciations
1.2 Listening and pronunciation
1.3 Modelling pronunciation
1.4 Performance of a text
1.5 Aspects of pronunciation
1.6 The Role of Teaching Pronunciation in FLT
2. Correcting learners' pronunciation mistakes
2.1 New ways of correcting spoken errors
2.2 Correcting Without Hurting
2.3 Mistakes Made During Discussions and Activities
2.4 Problems of correcting students' pronunciation
2.5 Exercises for the Pronunciation of Plurals for English second language
Actuality of the research work.
A lot of time and effort is spent on training courses and beyond in encouraging teachers to consider whether immediate or later correction of student errors during oral work is appropriate. There are a variety of good methods and techniques suggested for correcting students' errors on the spot. Mistakes are part of our life; we all make mistakes now and then. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as we learn from them and avoid repeating them over and over.
To correct students' errors has always been, and will always be the concern of most teachers. Some teachers are in favor of immediate correction, while others are in favor of delayed correction. Some would even go further to consider the whole process as time-consuming. In this article, I would like to dwell, based on my practical experience, upon this controversial issue to offer some suggestions for both immediate and delayed correction.
When students are corrected in front of their classmates, they feel offended and get discouraged. They expect teachers to continually correct them during classes. Failure to do so is likely to create confusion and suspicion on the part of the students. As such, teachers are expected to strive to find most creative ways to deal with this problem that most typically arises. They need to encourage and stimulate their students to participate in class without any fear of making mistakes.
Most students refuse to answer to the teacher in the classroom on the ground that they are most likely to be the laughingstock of their class fellows. Consequently, they get discouraged and feel humiliated. They refrain from responding to the teacher's questions which may deprive them of a valuable learning opportunity.
Generally speaking, there are three types of oral mistakes that need to be corrected during class-discussion. These are: grammatical, vocabulary, and pronunciation mistakes. This leads us to a very important question: should we interrupt our students during discussion or avoid interrupting them as much as we can? To answer this question we need to ask ourselves whether the focus is on accuracy or fluency. In fact, to save our students the embarrassment and in order not to distract them, we can employ less provocative approaches. One way is to make notes of the most common mistakes made by a student to be discussed later. Write them on the board without revealing the name of the student in order not embarrass him/her. Ask the rest of the class to identify these mistakes and correct them. Another way is to raise an eyebrow, or say, “Excuse me?” Or the teacher can ask for repetition without indicating the mistake.
Also we can employ another approach called, `selective correction'. In this case, the teacher decides to correct only certain errors. These errors can be decided by the objectives of the lesson, or the exercise that is being done. In other words, if students are focusing on past simple tense, then only errors related to this grammatical area need to be corrected. Other mistakes are ignored.
In conclusion, the teacher can decide which is the most beneficial and effective approach to error correction based on the situation itself. It will help students overcome their shyness and play an active role in class discussions without being afraid of making mistakes. In this case, they would acknowledge and accept their mistakes as part of the learning process instead of being offended when they are corrected by their teacher.
The aim of the research work is to consider what benefits correction of any kind might have for learners, as well as to present some ideas for conducting later correction (correction slots).
The object is theoretical phonetics of the English language.
The subject of the research work: correcting students' pronunciation.
The tasks of research:
1. To analyze theoretical material on the problem of the research.
2. To reveal peculiarities of English pronunciation.
3. To investigate new ways and methods of correcting students' pronunciation.
Following methods of the research were used during the writing of the work:
1. study and analyze of methodical literature;
2. determined observation on usage of studying materials.
The source consists of scientific, phonetic materials, teaching aids, articles on phonetics.
1. The importance of teaching English pronunciation
Contributing this particular gift can occasionally be a bit tricky, for several reasons. First, your students have already studied English for years and their pronunciation habits are not easy to change. A second problem for those of you who are native speakers of English is that you produce sounds so naturally that you may not be aware of how you do it, so even when you know that your students' pronunciation is wrong, you may not know what the problem is or how to correct it. Finally, the overwhelming majority of Amity teachers are not native speakers of the British "RP" accent ("Received Pronunciation", also known as "BBC English" or "the Queen's English") which is the accepted English standard in Kazakhstan in most textbooks, including Junior and Senior English for Kazakh. (Even in the UK, this accent is spoken by only a fairly small minority.) The upshot of all this is that teaching pronunciation may a more complicated issue than it seems.
The good news, however, is that through dint of hard effort it is possible for students to make some improvement in their pronunciation, particularly when they are attending to their pronunciation. (In other words, even future teachers with fairly heavy accents can learn to pronounce words accurately enough when paying attention that they provide an acceptable model for their own students.) If you pay attention to your own pronunciation, and spend a little time browsing through typical Kazakh English textbooks, you should also be able to learn enough about the mechanics of pronunciation to be able to help students. Finally, as long as you are aware of the differences between your own accent and RP, you can provide a useful pronunciation model for your students.
In class, speak naturally using your own accent, although if there are marked regional features to your speech you might lean as far in the direction of a more broadly accepted standard as is comfortable for you.
Learn the differences between your accent and RP. If you are not familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet and the accepted RP pronunciation of words.
When teaching pronunciation, in places where your accent differs from RP, don't insist that students follow you rather than the standard. (Future teachers will need to teach the standard in textbooks.) Rather, point out the difference between your accent and the standard so that students are aware of it.
Many of the pronunciation problems you encounter in students will have less to do with the fine tuning of a particular English accent than with simply getting them to pronounce words in a way that is more or less acceptable in any variety of English, so focus your efforts on the many areas where you can help students in their pronunciation. [1,52]
1.1 Ancient and Modern Pronunciations
We cannot be sure exactly how the ancient Romans pronounced their Latin, although the discipline of Historical Linguistics has given us a reasonably good idea of their general spoken practice. The early borrowings from Latin into various languages give some idea of the Roman pronunciation, for example Gothic "wins" meaning 'wine' was borrowed from Latin "vinum"; this shows the -w- pronunciation of -v- in Latin clearly, at least at the time that the borrowing took place.
In English speaking countries, two problems arise: First, are we to pronounce -v- as -w- is pronounced in English, or like English -v-? And then are we to say -ch- for Latin -c-, palatalizing the consonant before the fronted vowels, as in Italian, or pronounce it like English hard -k-? Teachers trained in the tradition of the Catholic Church will generally use the fricative -v- and the palatalized -ch-, others will use the other sounds, which the majority of modern scholars feels to be more authentic. A great deal of heat, if not light, has been spent on the problem of the "correct pronunciation of Latin". Probably most students will go with the method that their teachers use., but whichever way you follow, remember that this is a matter of scholarship, not of religion or faith. If there is any overriding parameter of judgment, it should probably be on the side of convenience, but in the last analysis the student who is really concerned with the way Latin may have sounded, as a part of his esthetic appreciation of a poet like Vergil, must try to find out the best way, so far as he can determine it, and follow it.
One person finds it ludicrous to read Vergil with an accent which appeared a thousand years after the poet's death; but another reads Vergil the way Dante read him, thinking this is good enough for him. Here as elsewhere de gustibus non disputandum est.
But if you are going to try to read Latin authentically, be sure you do not aspirate the stop-consonants, which is one of the oddities of English which makes the study of English so far for most others. It is virtually necessary to say "arpor" for 'tree" in order to avoid the Anglicized "arbhor". We know from grammarians that the Romans said "urps" for the city of Rome, and this is probably typical of their general pronunciation of the stop consonants. Furthermore, you should not use that nondescript English -r-, but roll your -r- broadly, as most of the Romanic language do. Whether it is a tongue trill, or a throat rumble is not important, so long as it isn't an English vanishing- consonant with a tongue flap (like "berry" pronounced 'Betty') or an American hybrid.
More important is the matter of the pronunciation of verse, for which see Section 14) of this supplement for a full discussion. The substitution of stressed accent in the place of genuinely LONG vowels is arbitrary and quite against the nature of both Greek and Latin poetry, which was length-conscious without any special attention to stress. If this process is justified by saying that it is a habit, understand that it is a bad habit, and please cut it out. Substituting STRESS for LENGTH is about as sensible as tapping your foot every time you hear a Chinese rising tone. [2,56]
Incidentally much the same misfortune has accrued to the sensitive and lovely Classical Greek language, where a perfectly attested pitch inflection of a musical fifth (marked by an acute accent in the Alexandrian period for the benefit of benighted foreigners like us) is regularly replaced by a heavy stress. This identical stress is also used for the circumflex, which loses its double-length and up-and-down musical inflection, so reminiscent of Swedish. And (believe it or not!) this same stress is used for the grave, which is nothing more than the replacement of an acute by a low (barytone) at base level, and is so marked in some extant papyri on every syllable for real dunderheads in the Alexandrian schools. But for the pig-headed, caution to the winds!
If you did these thoughtless things to modern Bengali, people would fail to understand you, or jeer if you persisted. But since the Classical peoples are not around to defend themselves, it look like a case linguistic open-season on whatever is around. But the bottom line: You are losing authenticity, and more important a large measure of esthetic appreciation.
1.2 Listening and pronunciation
Unless you are fortunate enough to have very small classes, it will be difficult to give much individual attention to students' pronunciation. Students must therefore learn to rely on their ears to tell them whether their pronunciation approximates that of native speaker models. However, many students are not in the habit of listening carefully before attempting to repeat. In fact, they have often been trained for years to immediately repeat whatever the teacher says, no matter how vague their impression is of the jumble of sounds they are trying to reproduce. Another problem is that while students are listening to the teacher's spoken model, their attention is often focused more on preparing to repeat than on listening. The teacher's sentence consequently serves less as a model for pronunciation than as a starting shot announcing that students should try to speak.
The first approach to pronunciation is thus helping students develop the habit of listening carefully before they speak. To do this, the first time you say a word or sentence, ask students to listen just listen. They should not murmur the utterance quietly after you; instead they should concentrate on fixing the sound in their memories. It is helpful if you repeat the model utterance several times before asking students to repeat; this not only allows them more chances to listen but also helps students break the habit of blurting out a response as soon as you finish.
Exercises which require listening but no oral response may also help sharpen student listening skills. Minimal pair drills are particularly good for helping students learn to hear the difference between similar sounds. Minimal pairs are words that are pronounced exactly the same with the exception of one sound (Ex: pin--pen, bid--bit). Sample exercise: To help students learn to hear the difference between the short "i" and "e" sounds, ask students to raise their pen when you say the word "pen" and a pin when you say "pin."
Training students' ability to hear sound distinctions will not necessarily result in good pronunciation. However, students who have not clearly heard a sound obviously have less chance to produce it correctly than those who listen carefully. [3,47]
1.3 Modelling pronunciation
Most native speakers of English have not formally studied the mechanics of English pronunciation, so this is an area in which it would be helpful to do some homework so that you are prepared to explain how sounds are made if called on to do so. However, you will almost certainly be expected to serve as a model for pronunciation, and for this purpose a limited amount of choral drill can be useful. Steps for such a drill would be as follows:
1) Choose a text that represents normal spoken English (as opposed to more bookish language). A dialog from your textbook would be a good choice.
2) Read sentences aloud, clearly but at a fairly normal speed. Have students listen to each sentence once or twice before attempting to repeat it. Remind them that they should be listening to and trying to mimic the rhythm, stress, and intonation patterns of your speech as well as your pronunciation.
3) Build up longer sentences from the end, starting with the last few words, and then adding the previous ones. Ex: "...give you money?" "...expect me to give you money?" "Do you really expect me to give you money?" (This approach tends to preserve sentence intonation better than working from the beginning.)
One fun way to practice the rhythm of English sentences is by taking a dialog from a book, preferably one with short sentences, and turning it into a "jazz chant." In essence, this means finding the natural rhythm of each sentence and then chanting it with emphasis on the key words, something like a group cheer at a football game or a chant at a protest rally ("Hell no, we won't go" and so forth). Clapping or pounding desks adds to the festive nature of the activity. This exercise is particularly good for driving home the point that not all words in English sentences get equal stress.
If you want students to prepare choral drill of a dialog before class, it is best if they have a taped model to work with. Without having heard a dialog before they repeat it, they may wind up polishing an incorrect performance.
Choral drill is best in small doses. It generally only takes a short period of drill for students to get the point you wish to make, and drill beyond that point rapidly turns into mindless parroting. [4,58]
1.4 Performance of a text
Once students are able to repeat accurately after a spoken model, the next step is to have them practice speaking from a written text. Keeping pronunciation accurate while reading a text aloud is more difficult than repeating after a teacher, but it is still easier for students than maintaining correct pronunciation in free conversation because they can focus their attention on pronunciation rather than grammar or word choice.
One way to do this is to choose a text and copy it for students. If the goal is to teach daily conversational English, it is best if the text represents normal spoken English, though an argument can be made for sometimes including texts of literary and cultural merit (famous orations, poems, etc.) that were also intended to be read aloud or recited. Having chosen a text, go over it with students in class and have them take whatever notes they need on pronunciation, syllable stress, sentence intonation and stressed words. Next have students practice reading the text aloud (either in class or at home). Students should become very familiar with the text. Finally, either have students perform the text in class or -- if the equipment is available -- have them tape a reading of the text. The advantages of the latter approach are that students don't all have to listen to each other read the same text, and that you can listen at your leisure. [5,95]
1.5 Aspects of pronunciation
Many students tend to think of pronunciation primarily as accurate production of the sounds of English words, but this is neither the only aspect of the problem nor the only important one. Consequently, one way in which you can help students improve is by ensuring that they are aware of all of the important issues. (see Appendix 4)
1) Accurate pronunciation of sounds: This is really two problems, one of ability and one of knowledge. Students first need to learn to pronounce as many of the sounds of English as possible accurately. The particular sounds with which students will have difficulty depend to a large extent on students' first language, but there are some sounds in English such as the "th" sounds in "think" and "this", or the short vowels in "head," "hit," and "put" which are difficult for students from many language backgrounds.
The second problem is making sure that students know what sounds they should pronounce in a given word. Common pronunciation problems include omitting sounds, adding extra ones, or simply pronouncing the wrong sound.
2) Syllable stress: Unlike many other languages, English requires that one syllable in each word be stressed more than others. The importance of putting the stress on the right syllable in English cannot be underestimated; putting the stress on the wrong syllable is more likely to make a word unintelligible than is mispronouncing one of its sounds. For many students who are especially hard to understand, misplaced syllable stress is the main problem.
3) Sentence word stress: In English sentences, not all words are given equal emphasis. Key words (usually the words that contain new or important information) are stressed and pronounced more slowly and clearly than other words. Take, for example, the question "Are you going to go to Boston?" If the focus of the question is on where the listener will go, the sentence will sound something like "Ya gonna go ta Boston"; the word "Boston" would be pronounced clearly and with more emphasis. If, in contrast, the emphasis is on who is going, the sentence would sound like "Are you gonna go ta Boston?" While students don't necessarily need to learn to reduce the unimportant words in sentence, they should learn to stress key ones. (Students should also be made aware of English word reductions for listening comprehension.)
4) Sentence intonation: Intonation patterns in English sentences primarily indicate the degree of certainty of an utterance, i.e. whether it is a statement, question, or suggestion. Statements rise to a plateau, and then end with falling intonation. Most questions end in rising intonation; however, Wh- questions (who, what, where, when, why and how) end with falling intonation. It is important for students to learn these patterns not only in order to communicate meaning, but also in order to avoid unwittingly sounding rude or indecisive.
5) Enunciation: A final important aspect of pronunciation is clear enunciation. Some students lack confidence in speaking or are unsure of their pronunciation, and therefore speak either very quietly or unclearly. Obviously this makes them more difficult to understand, and students should therefore be reminded that speaking audibly and clearly is an important aspect of pronunciation.
The ideal approach to student pronunciation problems is for you to work individually with each student, listening for problems, explaining the proper pronunciation (intonation, etc.), modelling correct pronunciation, and listening to the student practice. However, this is usually not possible because of time limitations and class size, so the discussion below will focus on approaches which can be used with a class. [6,52]
1.6 The role of teaching Pronunciation in FLT
Teaching English pronunciation is an area of language teaching that many English teachers avoid. While there are many textbooks and instruction manuals available, as well as books on the theories and methodologies of language teaching there is comparatively little on learning pronunciation.
Why? Is it because we don't need to teach pronunciation or because it cannot be taught?
Certainly, we need to teach pronunciation. There is a big difference between a ship and a sheep and a pear and a bear! When teaching any language as a foreign or second language, our first goal for our students is basic communication, and that can't happen if no one can understand what they are saying.
How NOT to Teach Pronunciation
When teachers decide to focus on pronunciation practise many of them make the mistake of trying to teach pronunciation along with introducing vocabulary. This can work with students who have a "good ear," or who perhaps speak a related language. However it can be hit and miss with students whose mother tongue has no relation to the target language.
This brings us back to the question of whether pronunciation can be effectively taught at all? The answer is yes, of course it can be taught, it's just that the way many textbooks tell us to teach it is actually one of the least effective.
Most textbooks will have you drill pronunciation with repetition of the vocabulary. Some of the better ones will have you work on it with spelling, which is an important skill, especially in English with its many irregularities and exceptions. Very few will start you and your students where you need to start, however, and that is at the level of the phoneme.
Start with Phonemes (but not necessarily phonetic script)
The dictionary defines "phoneme" as "any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another, for example p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad, and bat." This definition highlights one of the key reasons that we must, as language teachers, start our pronunciation instruction at the level of the phoneme. If a phoneme is a "perceptually distinct unit of sound" then we have to realize that before students can consistently produce a given phoneme, they must be able to hear it. Thus the first lessons in pronunciation should involve your students listening and identifying, rather than speaking. [7,85]
Introduce your phonemes in contrasting pairs like /t/ and /d/. Repeat the phonemes in words as well as in isolation and ask the students to identify them. In order to visually represent the differences they are listening for, you may want to draw pronunciation diagrams for each sound showing the placement of the tongue and lips.
You might also consider teaching your students the necessary symbols from the phonetic alphabet, because although T and D are written differently in English, the TH in "there" and the TH in "thanks" are written exactly the same, despite the difference in pronunciation. This isn't essential, and really works best with adults rather than children, but it is worth it for any students who are highly visual or analytical learners.
You can play all sorts of matching games with this material to make the drills more fun and less stressful. You can have students play with nonsense sounds and focus on the tiny differences between contrasted phonemic pairs, the key being to get them to hear the phoneme.
All these games are included in the English Language Games Digital Book for adults with 163 games and activities!
From Recognition of Phonemes to Practise
Once they can hear and identify a phoneme, it's time to practice accurate production of the sound. For this, pronunciation diagrams are useful. Your students need to be able to see where to put their lips and tongues in relation to their teeth. Most sounds are articulated inside your mouth and students have no idea what you are doing in order to produce that particular noise. If you have ever tried to teach a Japanese student how to say an American /r/, then you have experienced the frustration of trying to get a student to produce tongue movements they can't see. There are books out there with diagrams, and with a little practice you can probably produce sketches of them yourself. If you can't, get hold of a good reference book so that you can flip to the relevant pages. Your students will thank you for this insight into the mouth, especially since there is no danger of the embarrassment of bad breath with a drawing. [8, 26]
While this may sound time consuming and unnatural, you have to realize that you are in the process of reprogramming you students' brains, and it is going to take a while. New neural pathways have to be created to learn new facial movements and link them with meaning.
In the classroom, we are recreating an accelerated version of the infant's language learning experience. We are providing examples and stimulus through grammar and vocabulary lessons, but with pronunciation lessons we are also breaking down language to the point of babbling noises so that our students can play with the sounds, as infants do, and learn to distinguish meaningful sounds on an intuitive level while making use of more mature analytical skills that an infant doesn't have.
If you regularly take ten minutes of your lesson to do this kind of focused phonemic practice, your students articulation and perception of phonemes will see improvement after several weeks, and you will get them all to the point where you can practice pronunciation on a word or even a sentential level.
Pronunciation games for children can be found in this English Language Games for Children book: English Language Games for Children
Moving on to Pronunciation of Words
The progress will be more pronounced with younger students, but even adults will begin to give up fossilized pronunciation errors when reciting vocabulary words in isolation. It's time to make the next leap - correct pronunciation in the context of natural conversation. Make no mistake; this is a leap, not because it is more physically challenging, but because you are about to address a completely different set of barriers.
When we teach on the phonemic level, we are struggling to expand physical and neurological limitations. We are taking irrelevant noises and making them significant to our students, while trying to teach them a greater range of articulation with their mouths, tongues, and lips. But when we work on pronunciation at a lexical or sentential level, we are dealing with complex emotional, psychological, and cultural motivations that require their own kind of re-education.
Three Big Barriers to Good English Pronunciation
Anxiety, learned helplessness and cultural identity are the three biggest barriers to students' successful adoption of a second language. Not every student will have all of these problems, but it is a sure thing that all of them will have at least one of these problems to a greater or lesser extent. As English teachers we have to find ways to bring these problems to our students' attention in non-threatening ways, as well as suggest tools and strategies for dealing with them.
Anxiety is a fairly straightforward problem to discover. Students who feel a lot of anxiety in speaking are generally well aware of the situation and they know that it is impeding their progress. The impact on pronunciation specifically can be seen in their unwillingness to experiment with sounds, a general lack of fluency that makes it hard to blend sounds correctly, and poor control of the sentential elements of pronunciation, such as intonation and syllable stress. The best remedy for anxiety is highly structured, low- pressure practise. In other words - games.
Jazz chants, handclap rhymes, reader's theatre, and dialog practise from textbooks can all be helpful. Structure and repetition reduce the pressure on the students and allow them to focus on pronunciation and intonation. Classroom rituals, like starting the lesson with a set greeting and reading aloud a letter from the teacher are also excellent ways to integrate pronunciation practise into the rest of the lesson while reducing stress for the student. Rote phrases, drilled for correct pronunciation, will eventually be internalized and the correct pronunciation will improve overall pronunciation. [9,74]
Learned helplessness is much harder to bring to a students attention, and may be difficult for the teacher to recognize. The term "learned helplessness" comes from psychology and refers to the reaction people and animals have to a hopeless situation. Basically, after trying something several times and consistently being unable to get a positive result, we shut down. We stop trying. If students are getting negative feedback on their English skills, especially pronunciation, and if they try to improve but feel they haven't, then they stop trying. You might think they are being lazy, but in fact they simply don't believe they can improve. They have already given up.
Luckily, once it is recognized, the fix is pretty easy: stay positive, praise frequently and specifically, and periodically tape students speaking so that they can hear the difference after a few months. If you can coax even a little progress out of a student, then tell the student exactly what they just did right (For example: The difference between your short /a/ and short /e/ were really clear that time! Let's do it again!). Tape the students reading or reciting a passage at the beginning of the year, then tape the same passage every couple of months. Play the tapes for you student and let them hear how much they have improved over the course of a few months. They will probably impress themselves, and you!
Finally, the question of cultural identity has to be dealt with. Students that don't want to be assimilated into an English speaking society aren't going to give up the things that mark them as different. An accent is a clear message about one's roots and history, and many people may be unwilling to completely give it up. As teachers, we need to ensure that students' can be easily understood by others, but we don't have to strive for some hypothetical Standard English pronunciation. In fact, we should highlight for our class that after a certain point, accents don't matter much at all.
Some fun activities that can help your students become more sensitive to the subject of accents are doing impersonations, listening to native regional accents and teaching you a phrase in their own language. [10,58]
Impersonations can be done as a class. Students can impersonate famous people, like John Wayne or Nicholas Cage, or they can impersonate teachers - always a fun activity! The idea is to have them take on a whole different identity and try out the pronunciation that goes with it. Often, your students will produce the best English pronunciation of their lives when impersonating someone else. Be sure to tape them for this as well, since it proves that they can use English pronunciation in a conversation or monologue.
2. Correcting learners' pronunciation mistakes
I had many students who have obtained an amazing vocabulary and whose grammar is the envy of other students. It is just too bad that no one can understand what they are saying. As an ESL teacher, your first priority is to help your students develop their pronunciation skills. Without proper pronunciation, other aspects of English such as vocabulary and grammar become useless if a student cannot be understood when he uses the language.
While pronunciation is the most important component of any ESL class, it is usually also the least interesting in the eyes of the students. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of teaching pronunciation to your ESL students:
-Never be shy to correct your students' pronunciation in class. Wait until the student has completed the thought and then ask the class to repeat words that you think were not pronounced properly. Never interrupt a student in mid sentence.
-When you are teaching an ESL class about a particular topic, always spend at least 10 minutes teaching the pronunciation of new vocabulary words to students. As they use the vocabulary words, correct pronunciation as necessary.
-Use fun methods to teach pronunciation. One such method is by using a stick (or some kind of pointer) to point at each word. When you point, the students should repeat the word. If you don't point, there should be complete silence. There will always be a student or two who will still say the word after you have pointed three or four times and suddenly stop. You can make a competition to see who is paying attention. Divide the classroom into five teams and give each team pictures of the vocabulary words or actual objects if they are available. When you call a word, the team that is responsible for that word should stand up and say the word in unison. As the game progresses, you can try to trick the teams by saying a vocabulary word but pointing at a team that is not responsible for the word. You can grade each team (using stars on the board) based on how every team member reacts, loudness, and togetherness.
-Always focus both on the group and invididuals when practing pronunciation. Having the group repeat after you is helpful, but it is also important to have individual students repeat after you to make sure that bad pronunciation does not get hidden in the group.
-Never allow your students to laugh at one another during pronunciation practice. Being laughed at can seriously damage a student's inspiration to want to learn English. It is important to promote an environment were students can feel very comfortable with speaking outloud in class.
-If your students are having trouble with a particular word or sound, ask them to watch your mouth as you repeat the word. They can attempt to imitate the shape of your mouth which will help improve their pronunciation. [14,78]
2.1 New ways of correcting spoken errors
1. Collect the errors for later
You can then correct them later in the same class (with a game like a grammar auction or just eliciting corrections from the class) or in a future class (for example writing error dictation pairwork worksheets or using the same techniques as can be used in the same class). Make sure you give positive reinforcement as well, e.g. “Someone said this sentence, and that is really good.” (see Appendix 1)
2. Facial expression
For example, raise an eyebrow, tilt your head to one side or give a slight frown. Most people will do this naturally, but there is a slight chance a teacher's expression will be too critical or too subtle for your students to pick up on, and you can (amusingly) practice facial expressions in a teaching workshop by participants communicating certain typical classroom messages (“move over there to work with this person”, “work in pairs” etc.) using just their heads and faces, including feedback on spoken errors in that list.
3. Body language
The problems with using body language to show errors could also be that it is taken as very serious criticism or that it is too vague. Possibilities include using your hands (rolling a hand from side to side to mean “so-so attempt”; making a circle by moving your index finger to mean “one more time”; or a cross with fingers, open palms or even forearms to show a very clear “no” or “wrong”- probably only suitable for a team game etc where the responsibility is shared), head (tilted to one side to mean “I'm not sure that sounds correct”), or shoulders (hunched to reinforce “I don't understand what you are saying”). Again, practising this in a teaching workshop can be useful, as can eliciting other body language teachers could have used after an observation.
4. Point at the correct language
If you have something on the correct form easily accessible on the whiteboard, in the textbook or on a poster, just pointing at it can be a subtle but clear way of prompting students to use the correct language. What you point at could be the name of the tense or word form they are supposed to be using, a verb forms table or the actual correct verb form, a grammatical explanation, or another grammatical hint such as “future”, “prediction” or “polite”.
5. Repeat what they said
This can mean repeating the whole sentence, one section of it including the wrong part, the sentence up to the wrong part, the sentence with the wrong part missed out (with maybe a humming noise to show the gap that should be filled) or just the wrong part. You can illustrate that you are showing them an error and give some hint as to which bit is wrong by using a questioning tone (for everything you say or just for the wrong part). This method is overused by some teachers and can sound patronising if used too often or with the wrong tone of voice, so try to mix up the different versions of it described here and to alternate with methods described in the other tips.
6. Just say the right version
The students can then repeat the correct version or tell you what the difference between the two sentences was and why their version was wrong. Because the students don't do much of the work in this way of being corrected, it might not be as good a way of remembering the correction as methods where you give more subtle clues. Its advantages are that it is quick and suits cultures, classes and students that think of elicitation as shirking by the teacher. It can also be more face-saving than asking them for self-correction, as trying to correct themselves risks making even more mistakes. The “right version” could mean the whole sentence or just the correction of the part that was wrong. In the latter case, you can then ask them to put it into the sentence in the right place and repeat the whole thing.
7. Tell them how many mistakes
This method is only really suitable for controlled speaking practice, but can be a very simple way of giving feedback in that situation. Examples include “Most of the comparatives were right, but you made two mistakes” and “Three words are in the wrong position in the sentence/ are mixed up”. Make sure you only use this method when students can remember what you are referring to without too much prompting.
Other useful language:
“Very good, but you made just one mistake with the passive”
(For a tongue twister) “Good attempt/ Getting better, but in two places you said /sh/ where it should have been /s/. Can you guess which words?”
8. Use grammatical terminology to identify the mistake
For example, “(You used) the wrong tense”, “Not the Present Perfect”, “You need an adverb, not an adjective” or “Can change that into the passive/ indirect speech?” This method is perhaps overused, and you need to be sure that the grammatical terminology isn't just going to confuse them more.
Other useful language:
“Because that is the present simple, you need to add the auxiliary (verb) `do'”
“Say the same sentence, but with the comparative form”
9. Give the rule
For example, “`Since' usually takes the Present Perfect” or “One syllable adjectives make the comparative with -er, not more + adjective” This works best if they already know the rule, and you at least need to make sure that they will quickly understand what you are saying, for example by only using grammatical terminology you have used with them several times before.
10. Give a number of points
This is probably best saved for part of a game, especially one where students work together, but you can give each response a number of points out of 10. The same or other teams can then make another attempt at saying the same thing to see if they can get more points. If you don't want students to focus on accuracy too much, tell them that the points will also give them credit for good pronunciation, fluency, politeness, persuasiveness and/ or originality of ideas.
“Very good fluency and very interesting, but a few basic mistakes, so I'll give your team a score of (IELTS) 5.5. Practice your script in your team again for 5 minutes and we'll try it one more time”
“You got all the articles right this time, so I'll give you 9 out of 10”
11. Just tell them they are wrong (but nicely)
Positive ways of being negative include “nearly there”, “getting closer”, “just one mistake”, “much better”, “good idea, but…”,”I understand what you mean but…”, “you have made a mistake that almost everyone does/ that's a very common mistake”, “we haven't studied this yet, but…” and “much better pronunciation, but…” With lower level and new classes, you might have to balance the need to be nice with the need to be clear and not confuse them with feedback language that they don't understand, perhaps by sticking to one or two phrases to give feedback for the first couple of months. It can also be useful to give them translations of this and other classroom language you will use, for example on a worksheet or a poster.
12. Tell them what part they should change
For example, “You need to change the introduction to your presentation” or “Try replacing the third word with something else”.
13. Ask partners to spot errors
This is a fairly well-known way of giving feedback in speaking tasks, but it can be a minefield if the person giving feedback has no confidence in their ability to do so or in how well the feedback (i.e. criticism) will be taken, and even more so if the person receiving the feedback will in fact react badly. This method is easier to do and easier to take when they have been told specifically which language to use while speaking and so to look out for when listening, usually meaning controlled speaking practice tasks. The feedback can be made even simpler to give and collect and more neutral with some careful planning, e.g. asking them count how many times their partner uses the target form as well as or instead of looking for when it used incorrectly.
14. Try again!
Sometimes, students don't need much help at all but just a chance to do it again. This is likely to be true if you have trained them well in spotting their own errors, if there was some other kind of mental load such as a puzzle to solve that was distracting them from the language, or if they have had a chance to hear someone else doing the same speaking task in the class or on a recording.
“One more time (but think about the grammar more this time/ but concentrating on making less mistakes instead of speaking quickly)”
“Give it another go”
“Do you want one more chance before you get the final score”.
15. Remind them when you studied that point
For example, “Nearly right, but you've forgotten the grammar that we studied last week” or “You've made the same mistake as everyone made in the last test”. (see Appendix 2)
2.2 Correcting Without Hurting
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. [16,102]
2.3 Mistakes Made During Discussions and Activities
With oral mistakes made during class discussions, there are basically two schools of thought: 1) Correct often and thoroughly 2) Let students make mistakes. Sometimes, teachers refine the choice by choosing to let beginners make many mistakes while correcting advanced students often.
However, many teachers are taking a third route these days. This third route might be called 'selective correction'. In this case, the teacher decides to correct only certain errors. Which errors will be corrected is usually decided by the objectives of the lesson, or the specific exercise that is being done at that moment. In other words, if students are focusing on simple past irregular forms, then only mistakes in those forms are corrected (i.e., goed, thinked, etc.). Other mistakes, such as mistakes in a future form, or mistakes of collocations (for example: I made my homework) are ignored.
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