How do you teach pronunciation?

English teachers have been asking me questions about the way I teach pronunciation for quite some time. The thing is pronunciation has always been viewed as an accessory in the English language curriculum. You have to teach listening and speaking skills, and obviously people can’t get too far without reading and writing, but pronunciation – who cares about that?

If I were to ask English teachers what their associations are when it comes to teaching pronunciation, here’s what I would most likely hear:

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Tongue twisters

Repeat this gibberish that nobody else understands or uses so you can speak English more clearly.

It's boring

Working for 45 minutes on how to position one’s tongue, lips and how to move them efficiently. I can’t imagine doing that! My students will fall asleep!

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Minimal pairs!

How many times can one repeat ship-sheep/ten-tan until the student actually gets it?

Songs and rhymes

What does singing have to do with one’s IELTS score? Let’s cut to the chase!

These are the types of comments I generally hear from teachers who would like to teach or are currently teaching pronunciation. Actually, it’s not their fault because we tend to produce what we’ve seen ourselves. My pronunciation training classes used to be super-boring and completely disconnected from reality.

When I began teaching pronunciation in 2003 I had a very vague idea how I would connect my drills and even tongue twisters (yes, that’s a big confession to make – but I did use tongue twisters in my first year of teaching) to real life English. Moreover, if I were very honest with myself I could observe that my lessons had very little impact on the students’ actual speaking skills.

That was puzzling to me. Something as important as pronunciation, something that I would spend 80 minutes at a time working on seemed to be going out the window when the students met native speakers, or worse, when they had to read a piece of simple text. Where were the pauses? Where were all those sounds we’d practiced? Where was the tone? Where were the stresses?

Needless to say, that was stressing me out. I taught future translators, and only a handful of 60 students in the class actually got it! Everybody else didn’t seem to experience any change in the way they were speaking. I was lost. But this is not where the story ends because in 2008 I attended my first ever International TESOL Convention in New York that literally changed my approach to accent training.

I had signed up for the Pre-convention Institute – the 6-hour training called “Pronunciation: Beyond the Basics” led my Marnie Reed and Christina Michaud. I remember that 6-hour training cost me exactly what I made a month teaching 80 hours, but I was running out of options and had nobody around me at the time who could help me. “It better be good,” I remember thinking.

So these two professors from Boston University began talking about the things that I’d spent very little time on in the classroom (no wonder the students weren’t connecting their lessons to the real-life examples). They focused on linking, word shape changes, word stresses, rhythm and intonation.

If you’ve ever taken a traditional accent training course it’s generally all about where to put your tongue and how to open your mouth. 90% of every course is just these tedious, long drills that were almost impossible to apply in real life. Throw in there a few tongue twisters and now wonder that people have no patience for accent training whatsoever.

This is an eye-opening training for passionate teachers!

Pronunciation Training must never be boring. Learn how to teach it in a way that helps students improve speaking and listening!

Buy now!

I remember coming back from that conference ready for an experiment. I started a few classes with some accent training assignments suggested in the Institute, then followed them with a number of real-life drills that I’d selected.

The results were amazing. In just a few lessons the students could read like they knew what they were reading. What I mean is they no longer had to be prompted to stop and pause, I didn’t have to show them the stressed/unstressed words, it’s as though they quickly figured that out, and their speech was different from then on.

Obviously, I tried this out with my private students as well. The benefit of teaching private students is you can modify the exercises depending on the student’s needs. Within 2 weeks students were reading texts beautifully! They actually made pauses, connected words and tried to speak using the same principles.

Moving on I incorporated these principles into my 2 LinkedEnglish courses and then added a practical component using free software. The results were astounding: the students improved both speaking and listening. Very practical aspects of the language indeed!

“I have always wanted to take up a course of pronunciation, because I was sure that this would help me to speak  more fluent and be more confident,  whats more it is also a key to understand natives better. Even being in right environment of the British didn’t help me as much as I would love to. I also studied on my own, but little improvement. So I was determined to find a good teacher! Elena did a great job! Only for 2 months I lost any fear to speak, became more confident and started understanding Natives much better. Elena is a highly qualified and knowledgeable in different British and American accents. She improved my pronunciation from simple ING to right intonation. What also helps is that Elena knows Russian, so she could compare the phonology of  Russian language to English. Sometimes I hear that I have a British accent and this is all thanks to Elena!”

Nadia

Years after I first began teaching pronunciation I started developing the real-life English pronunciation courses, customizing those for each individual students or just selling them online for large numbers of students.

I want to share everything I know in my 1-hour special training. If you wish to get access to the recording + the handout, you can purchase it by clicking the button below.

Here’s what I cover in the session:

  1. The goal of teaching pronunciation (hint: it’s NOT about the way you sound).
  2. The resources on pronunciation training.
  3. What do you focus on when you teach pronunciation?
  4. How do you fit your training into short modules?
  5. How do you organize and integrate accent training with other areas?
  6. What apps do you use for accent training?
  7. What other resources are available for accent training?
  8. What are the opportunities for advanced accent training for you as a teacher?
  9. How do you work with a student from specific countries?

In a way this is a crash course for those who’ve never studied English phonetics, and it includes additional bonus materials like resources, tools, apps and marketing advice. It is obviously NOT exhaustive, but it will be enough to get you started with basic pronunciation training which will most likely add value to your language packages.

The training costs $25 (YES, I know – it’s a deal!), and you’ll receive the training shortly after you purchase it. Please allow 12 hours for processing.

Thank you! ~ Elena

This is an eye-opening training for passionate teachers!

Pronunciation Training must never be boring. Learn how to teach it in a way that helps students improve speaking and listening!

Buy now!
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