A Pronunciation Toolkit

Presented at FECEI Convention 2016 and ACEIA Sevilla 2016

Assumption One: “I have no idea if I’m doing this right.

Assumption two “I don’t have time for this

I took these two assumptions about pronunciation teaching as the basis for this more practical workshop. Whereas Sounding Right is a top-up training session on Pronunciation teaching, Toolkit is the resource book to use in your classroom teaching. The shift in focus reflected my own development as a pronunciation teacher; with more confidence about what to do and how to do it, I felt able to really start to experiment (and move away from Underhill’s prescriptive methods).

The aim of Toolkit is to give teachers a much more tangible sense of what pronunciation teaching could be about. Since many students in Spain sit Cambridge Assessment English exams, I looked at how us examiners would assess speaking in order to find clear goals for myself as a teacher. From that, the toolkit began to take shape:

The Assessor in a Cambridge speaking test will be listening for accuracy with sounds, stress, and intonation. To this is added pronunciation for listening. I firmly believe that a major reason for teaching pronunciation is to aid students’ receptive understanding, and that building up phonological skills and awareness is the basis for teaching listening skills. Finally, effective and manageable pronunciation teaching should involve setting clear targets. The scope for pronunciation topics is almost endless, so a teacher should instead focus on what aspects of pronunciation are challenging for their students and set their targets accordingly.

Hancock’s work has been influential for a lot of us. His famous Pronunciation Games is almost ubiquitous with academy staff rooms. His self-published PronPack series (with a recently-added fifth book aimed at English for Spanish Speakers) has had less traction but is just as good. Hancock’s take on the Sound Chart is an interesting one, and I’ve found it to be much more versatile and user-friendly that Underhill’s.

Click the image above to read more about this chart on the PronPack website.

Here are the handouts and resources for Toolkit:

Download the presentation
Download the handout
Colour phonemes (Teacher)
Colour phonemes (student)
Mouth poster
Mini mouth cards

Mark Hancock recently gave an interesting talk on this idea for APIBA based out of Argentina, which is definitely worth a watch (and is also a cautionary tale about eating in Zoom meetings).

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