Do you have students that complain they can’t understand the listening tracks until you let them read the transcripts? The solution could be in Richard Cauldwell’s work, which has been brought to my attention by my dearest Higor Cavalcante. The author of Phonology for Listening and of the forthcoming A Syllabus for Listening, Cauldwell did an EVO webinar on Sunday and reminded us that it’s a jungle out there. In a very fitting metaphor, he explained we usually teach pronunciation of isolated words as if words were potted plants in...

After a year or more, I'm back to blogging.  This time I have decided to study and write a little about a subject that is not really comfortable for me to teach and I guess that for lots of my colleagues, it is not easy as well. Let's then talk about pronunciation  regarding the regular  -ED Endings, a particular area of difficulty for Brazilian students, and for students in general. Some years ago I was conducting a workshop for the state sector teachers in Recife, Brazil  (where I live) when...

In the past few years, I’ve seen a few teachers in Brazil make a point of differentiating accent traits from pronunciation errors. You can listen to Daniel Bonatti explain it here for CanalRh or Vania Below from ManagedEnglish tackle it here. The implication, as I understand, is that diversity in accents should be celebrated, but pronunciation errors should be corrected. While I totally agree with the sentiment (yay, diversity!), I find the practicalities of it a little difficult to wrap my head around. My main question is – and this...

It seems to me that my posts here have, unintentionally, turned into a pronunciation series. I've been keeping my eyes /aɪz/ and ears /ɪərz/ open to things to write about. Last week, I worked with the pronunciation of different suffixes in different places. Because of that, I thought this would be an appropriate topic and I've chosen three that I think are particularly mispronounced. -ful Adjectives that take the suffix -ful are sometimes pronounced by Brazilians the same way the word 'full' is pronounced: /fʊl/. However, the vowel sound here should be...

After receiving some positive feedback on my previous post about pronunciation, I started thinking about other pronunciation areas that I thought were problematic. These are mistakes your students will certainly make, but that you may be making yourself too. The two sounds I have chosen have a couple of similarities to the /s/ and /z/ I mentioned last time. First of all, these are common mistakes made by Brazilian speakers of English. The final /m/ is a bilabial consonant, which means your lips touch to stop the air coming...

For a very long time, I thought my pronunciation was very good. Teachers and colleagues had told me so, and because of that I rarely ever gave it much attention. I was more worried about learning vocabulary or grammar. Naturally, my pronunciation was (and still is) far from perfect, but it took me time to realise that. There is an Aristotle quote that I think rings true for teachers. He said that "the more you know, the more you know you don't know." Little by little I started to...

A teacher who is worried about his or her language development has many avenues to pursue, pronunciation being only one of them. On that matter, though, here is a tip: don’t snub pronunciation dictionaries! I know what you are thinking, “Why on earth would people need pronunciation dictionaries if regular dictionaries (even those online!) have the audio and/or the phonetic transcription?” First, let me say why the audio is not good enough: our ears deceive us sometimes. I had been studying English for 15 years and teaching it for 8...

Recently, I was asked to lead an in-service session on Pronunciation. I was given about an hour and a half to cover sentence stress, intonation, features of connected speech, word stress and phonemes. Not an easy task considering how much is involved in articulating speech. Maybe we under-estimate it? For 'teaching' pronunciation encompasses much more than just modelling and getting the students to repeat. I  started off by telling the participants that I have lost count of the number of times, when observing teachers in action, that I have...

Esta semana, surfando na internet, me deparei com um meme bastante bem humorado que me chamou a atenção, arrancando aquele sorriso típico de quem admite para si mesmo: ‘genial!’ Eis aqui o dito cujo: Não obstante o riso quase que inevitável, por de trás do bom humor (através de um símile que faz alusão ao estereótipo da fala de um caipira texano para dar a dimensão da dificuldade da vida), o meme também nos coloca diante de alguns questionamentos bem relevantes, especialmente para quem ensina línguas em um contexto de EFL/ELF,...

Modeling language is, among a number of other teaching techniques, one of the first things the novice teacher needs to put a lot of effort and energy into in order to have a hand on, to say the least. In most pre-service teacher training courses I have taught several times at different institutions along many years, I have often been able to spot some aspects of the teaching of pronunciation that are frequently underplayed by teachers and need to be addressed, even with more experienced teachers and those...

While technology has become a powerful tool to share information, talking to people face-to-face still remains unrivalled. Enjoying a meal together or connecting with others through a handshake --- or even a few words, creates a synergy that promotes feelings of trust and collaboration;  it helps us build stronger relationships and a feeling of belonging. Conferences are mostly about all this energy flow that creates a unique learning environment by bringing people closer together. Highlight #1: Pronunciation: A cool activity that you can do with your students is ask them...

Teaching pronunciation in the English classroom is of great importance – it helps learners communicate better, convey their messages more effectively and sound more natural. Yet, this tends to be a rather marginalized area in EFL classrooms around the globe. Helping learners to sound better, to recognize different accents and varieties of English, and also to read phonemic transcript may contribute to their independence – and it’s perfectly ok to introduce them to the symbols even when they are at early elementary levels. Making the teaching of pronunciation a...

Music has always played a very important part of my life. My dad used to play in a forró band, my older brother is an accomplished guitar player and later in life I ended up becoming a professional singer. Songs were present in my classes a lot and in 2012 I decided to gather up some interesting activities I had tested in my own classes and set up a talk to give at Braz-TESOL Chapter one-day seminar in October about “fresh ways” to teach with songs. My session was called...

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...

For quite some time now, I have been trying to lower my adult students’ affective filters about their pronunciation difficulties. These affective filters (proposed by Stephen Krashen) “(…) acts to control the amount and quality of input learners receive.” (Thornbury, 2006 p.8). Affective filters can include motivation, self-confidence and anxiety. Anyone who has taught or teaches adults (especially in beginner levels) knows adults usually have higher affective filters than teens do. In my experience, these filters are usually high for adults because they were “conditioned” (by traditional teaching and...

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....