Teaching pronunciation

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 visual, physical activity, as suggested by Adrian Underhill, may help learners “see” sounds and better understand how to articulate the phonemes of the English language.

Enabling learners to understand some of the differences between different varieties of the English language and Brazilian Portuguese, for instance, will help them become better listeners (being able to better understand different genres of the spoken language); will help them sound better (because they will be more aware of how to produce a range of sounds and of suprasegmental features of the language, too); and their interactions with both native and non-native speakers of the language should become more intelligible, as they will have developed a better understanding of the phonological system of the language.

Learners should also be encouraged to have plenty of exposure to the language so that they get more used to listening to the sounds of English and to the vast range of accents the language has.

All in all, when teachers raise their learners’ awareness of the importance of focusing on pronunciation in and outside of the classroom, they are preparing learners to become better communicators in the globalized world.

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Catarina Pontes

Catarina Pontes is a senior consultant for Troika. She is an ICELT main course tutor, and Cambridge Assessment English Team Leader . A DELTA holder, and currently doing her MA with NILE, she is also a conference speaker and has published articles on ELT and EFL. She is the co-author of "Getting into Teacher Education - a Handbook", and is currently the coordinator of IATEFL's Pron SIG.

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