While I don’t want to advocate for perfect, accent-less pronunciation, being misunderstood in a second language can be really frustrating. Just changing the way that you shape your mouth or place your tongue when saying certain sounds can make a huge difference and improve your students communication and confidence!
If you're teaching a conversation class, looking for ways to improve your students' communication, or find your students reading out loud in dull, flat tones, then this article is for you! Learn more about the tones of voice below, so that you're better equipped to helping your students excel at communicating in English. After all, communication and language isn't all about words and letter sounds! It's much more complex.
Pronunciation is so multi-faceted and unique to each student, which makes it really difficult to teach! It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if your class is multicultural (students with similar language backgrounds will usually have similar pronunciation struggles).
The Prosody Pyramid is a great method for approaching pronunciation in a non-threatening, sequential way. The base of the pyramid is formed by thought groups, which are simply chunks of spoken language found within long sentences. They are book-ended by short pauses. Teaching your students how to identify these pauses and other attributes of thought groups into their speech can help them to incorporate them into their daily language and communicate more clearly.
Confession time: I’m not very good at pronouncing English words, and I’m a native speaker! I have a pretty extensive vocabulary when it comes to recognition and definitions, but pronunciation always gets me. I think that is largely due to the fact that English pronunciation isn’t very logical. It's confusing even for people who have been speaking the language their entire life.
If that’s the case, then how do we teach our students who are non-native speakers?