Here it is: the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Our film has finally been released on the big blog screen! Here we’ve compiled a few of our favourite techniques, games and ideas for teaching pronunciation that we’ve gathered around the staffroom. We hope you enjoy it! But please don’t sign out after watching it. We want your ideas! Your opinions! Have you tried any of these things? What did you think? And do you have anything you’re dying to share? Let us know! Blog it!
I used the IPA to learn accents at Drama School (I do a fine Brooklyn Gangster) and was ambivalent about the reappearance of spidery phonemes in my life during my Celta. Since I began teaching I have to admit to having got unreasonably excited about pronunciation and the IPA. It might be the opportunity for humour that the pulling of faces and making of noises allows. But mostly it is the deep appreciation of the students, who seem to be universally delighted when ‘Teacher’ becomes a duck or a tiger to demonstrate one sound or another. I have been stopped in corridors by students who wish to correctly pronounce ‘word’ for me; our mutual joy at the achievement is genuine. My pronunciation adventures with Rachael have been so interesting as I have gained a huge amount of teaching ideas and styles, some of them so perfectly simple and effective you wonder how you never thought of them before. We hope you gain as much from our discoveries as we have. Many thanks to everyone who contributed. Here’s more about our adventures from my lovely colleague Rachael.
Having studied linguistics, I’ve always been mad about transcribing things into the IPA…but I soon realised that using it to teach pronunciation is an entirely different matter! As someone who learnt languages through listening and imitating (even sometimes unknowingly), it soon became apparent to me that the large majority of language learners, despite being extremely keen to develop a perfect pronunciation, simply cannot hear the sounds; and herein lies the real work in teaching pronunciation.
What I’ve learnt on this pron journey with Tara, above all, is the sensual nature of pronunciation. So when students cannot hear the sounds, I’ve learnt how to show them how to feel them, and as a result begin to utter them themselves. So it is an integration of three main points or, as Tara and I like to call it, the triangle of sensuality: seeing the phoneme; feeling how it sounds in your mouth/on your teeth/tongue; and hearing it at the same time. It is often only in encouraging the first two that the third happens (I’d like to think organically).
These, however, are no doubt extremely fundamental points which I’m sure most of you discovered a long time ago! As for the actual running around with a camera for the last month, I’ve learnt loads of techniques to encourage students to discover the physicality of producing these sounds, including gestures, miming, and props. Then, on a broader scale, we’ve discovered numerous new games and activities to yank the IPA off the page and get it running around the room. This, however, is only the beginning. While we hope you enjoy the cinematography of our film, we really want it to inspire you to experiment with new ways to teach pron. Why not try some of the techniques and let us know how it went? Or do you have some pron inspiration that we should know about? We’d love you to use the blog to share your thought and ideas! Finally, a big, big thank you to everyone who helped us along the way, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you soon!
Here are some extra materials for you to download and refer to, or even use in class:
Andy’s Pron-focused Running Dictation: the chunked text
Flic’s Scavenger Hunt transcribed in IPA
Flic’s Simple Sound Maze
Flic’s Complex Sound Maze
Headway Pron Activity
*Estelle’s pron pearls of wisdom*
*Flik’s fun with pron*