Pronunciation: Speech in Action

by | 8 February 2022

In a previous post, we suggested three practical ideas for teaching English pronunciation. Pronunciation can be a difficult topic for both students and teachers. For students that only have exposure to English once a week in their language classrooms, grasping and practising pronunciation is inevitably tricky. For teachers, the challenge is finding suitable materials that can be used in class and at home.

One systematic approach is to look at native speaker models of English, for example British, American or Australian English. Whilst a great place to start, these models should not be the only examples learners are exposed to. Research suggests that 96% of all conversations that happen in English are between non-native speakers. Exposing students to a wide range of accents can help them compare key features, recognise the flexibility of different sounds and appreciate how global English really is.

One useful tool is the website Youglish finds real-life video examples of target phrases on YouTube. But there are many other resources you can bring into your classroom too. In a talk about practical ideas for teaching pronunciation, Robin Walker, an English language teacher, author and consultant suggested integrating online platforms and websites to assist practical pronunciation practice in the classroom. Here are 3 more websites you might like to use in your pronunciation classrooms.

1. The speech accent archive
This resource offers a range of dialects from native English speaker models (British, North American, Australian). All the voices read the same passage so your students can recognise the variation between the different dialects.

2. International dialects of English archive
A catalogue of different accents from around the world, this is an excellent resource to practise listening to English around the globe.

3. English listening lesson library online
You can listen to conversational topics in audio and video format using this resource. Listen to English speakers talking about anything and everything from ‘Old and new cities’ to ‘What do you think about cryptocurrency?’. There is content for all levels of language learners.

Modelling is a great tool for teaching pronunciation in the classroom – a way to show examples, boost confidence and give learners an accent to identify with. These websites provide learners with an opportunity to listen to different people from all around the world speaking English. After all, English is meant to be used and practised in real life with real people and this is the perfect place to start.

This post is based on a talk given by Robin Walker, hosted by Oxford University Press.

Katie Stokes, Blog Editor, ClarityEnglish

Katie Stokes, Blog Editor, ClarityEnglish