Part Three: A top-down approach
There are many ingredients to good pronunciation in English. In my last post on the subject I focused on individual, discrete sounds and their importance for our learners, but the thing that strikes me most when I hear a non-native speaker of English with good pronunciation is the rhythm and overall delivery of the chunks of language they use, not individual words per se. As a native speaker, if I hear a familiar pattern my ear can naturally pick out information which is being packaged in a way that makes sense to me. If some of the individual sounds are difficult to discern this is unlikely to affect my understanding to any great degree.
The importance of stress-timing
And I’m being quite literal when I talk about packaging language into meaningful chunks. Let’s see why this is and why one of the most important things we can do to help our students with pronunciation is to draw their attention to the phenomenon of stress-timing. Here’s a nice activity someone showed me years ago to introduce this at the beginning of a course. I don’t remember who exactly (my apologies) but I’ve never forgotten it.
Part One: The Basics
Pronunciation. It’s often the area most avoided by new teachers for lack of confidence, and also the first thing experienced teachers leave out due to lack of time and a desire to get on with the “meatier” issues of vocabulary, grammar and skills work. But like it or not our students are aware of the importance of pronunciation and will expect us to work on it with them, so getting comfortable with it and finding the time should be one of our priorities as teachers.
The following is the first part in a three-part series outlining some basic tips for successfully integrating pronunciation in your classes.
When you learn a foreign language, there are always certain sounds that are a challenge to get right and certain words that you must struggle to get your tongue around. With English, the erratic spelling system means that even if you have no trouble with the sounds themselves, you may often mispronounce words anyway.
To help you out with some of the trickier and more readily-confused ones, here are 10 English words that are difficult to pronounce for learners and some tips for getting them right. Continue reading
Following on from our previous article, here are another 10 common errors Spanish speakers make in English.
Common errors Spanish speakers make in English:
1. Switching he/she and his/her
One of the most common errors Spanish speakers make in English is to mix up he and she. This can really confuse the listener, especially if someone is telling a story involving a man and a woman! The same is true with his and her. In English, which doesn’t have masculine/feminine grammatical gender, the pronoun agrees with the possessor. Here’s a little story for your students to work through to help them get the hang of it. Continue reading
It has often been said that the UK and the USA are ‘two nations separated by a common language’. It’s certainly true that sharing English often disguises the cultural differences between the two societies, but what about actual differences between British and American English? Although there are very few differences, aside from differences in pronunciation, that would leave a Brit and an American in a state of mutual unintelligibility, there are significant differences between British and American English that are worth being aware of. Here we look at some of them.