On Tuesday, several Tti teachers came together to talk about different approaches to teaching pronunciation in the classroom. The teacher development session, put together by Marianne and Joe, focused on two main areas: the basics of pronunciation theory and practical ideas for the classroom.
Pronunciation is a really fun and dynamic aspect of language teaching that sometimes plays second fiddle to a lesson that focuses on grammar and vocabulary. Yet it is an area that all language learners need to work on and it can be an excellent way of alleviating the intensity of classroom activities.
The session tried to highlight this, focusing on ways in which pronunciation can become an integral part of every lesson and presenting several fun activities that teachers came away from the session eager to try with their classes.
One such activity involves students simulating a conference in which they have to swap business cards with each other as they meet. However, the twist is that instead of using their real names, they use phonemic sounds. Therefore, John Smith is actually “/aɪ/ /ɜː/”. The activity is a fun way of familiarising students with the 20 different vowel sounds that we have in the English language.
In terms of practical guidance for teachers, the importance of having a clear and consistent system for boarding pronunciation was also put forward. Key messages included:
Highlight the main stress (if the word has more than one syllable) in a different colour.
Instead of trying to write out the entire word in phonemic script, identify the main stress or particular sounds that students might have problems with.:
e.g. fantastic peculiar
When two words are connected due to a feature of connected speech, indicate this on the board. Typically, this is when a consonant and vowel sound finish and start two consecutive words:
e.g. a bit of a problem
Overall, the session was a great success, allowing the teachers at Tti to share and build on their ideas on what is a crucial aspect of English language teaching.