The first time I saw these images, and others like them, my immediate reaction was to laugh and think: How can people be so stupid? Why didn’t they ask someone who can actually speak English to tell them what the correct language was? Also, when on board most flights of Brazilian airlines, and listening to the ‘delightful’ aircrew English coming through the speakers, I often tsk-tsked, sniggered a little, scorned a little and complained a little: Will these people ever learn to speak proper English? More recently I have stopped laughing. Actually...

Here’s one more post with ideas and suggestions for helping our learners become aware of pronunciation areas which are essential for their intelligibility, and overcome their difficulties. This time let’s focus on a very common Brazilian pronunciation problem which fortunately teachers and more recent course books (like Richmond's new English ID series) have been giving more attention to lately than they used to do a few years ago. That’s the mispronunciation of initial R’s as H’s because of the way the letter R is pronounced in that position in...

Cecilia Lemos’s today’s post about the importance of intelligibility when teaching pronunciation made me think it is time I went beyond my two previous posts – where I talked about investigating Brazilian learners’ specific pronunciation needs and tackling their intelligibility problems – and move on to something more specific and practical. What do we know about what makes Brazilians more or less intelligible when communicating in an international context – i.e., using English as a lingua franca? According to a small-scale investigation I conducted (da Silva, 1999) using Jenkins’s common core...

I was wondering what I was going to write about for this month’s post, when a conversation with a friend last Saturday made me think about my previous post, so here is a bit more about pronunciation and intelligibility. I hope you find it useful. My friend was talking about his experience as an EFL student in New York City. As he put it, he has a “degree in beginners’ course first week”, and the course in New York had been no different – he’d quit soon after the...

The teaching of English pronunciation is such a challenge. Maybe because there is so much to accomplish that we often feel overwhelmed, and perhaps even insecure of our own abilities to give learners what they need. Most of us will let the course books tell us what to do and when to do it, as they highlight phonemes and other segmental and suprasegmental features here and there, and provide exercises and phonemic charts. Many of us will use these when they come up, as suggested in the books....