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Pronunciation

This is a page giving some general information about working on your students' pronunciation in the ESL classroom. The materials themselves can be found here: pronunciation and phonetics materials.

Introduction

Teachers should always be working on student pronunciation to help them communicate more successfully. Is a student's pronunciation adequate for their level and for the tasks they need to perform? Teaching ESL pronunciation is always an important aspect of ESL courses.

This site does not pretend to teach teachers how and when to work on pronunciation in the class. How to teach pronunciation to ESL students is not its main focus, but it does offer some materials for teachers to use when they decide some pronunciation work is necessary.

The goal should ideally be communicative efficiency with work on individual phonemes, word stress and sentence stress and intonation.

phonemes

The individual sounds that make up a language are called 'phonemes'. Standard British English has 44 phonemes although this will vary according to the accent/dialect (e.g. American English with Deep South accent). There are some materials here to help students with both recognition and production of these individual sounds, including charts of articulation.

Note: The pronunciation materials here were made with standard British English in mind. Most of the materials will equally be applicable to other forms of English, but, if not, can easily be adapted.

word stress

Non-native speakers need to know where individual words are stressed. Some words are spelt identically but have two pronunciations which give different meanings.

sentence stress and intonation

The tone of the message is often as important as the message itself. Can students recognise intonation patterns and therefore, the meaning of the message? How does a student convey doubt, boredom, uncertainty? Does the student sound like an English speaker? Does the student want to?

As mentioned above, this site's aim is not to answer these questions but to offer teachers the materials to work with once they have decided how they can best improve their students' pronunciation.

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