Adrian Underhill takes us through some new ways of really putting pronunciation at the core of our teaching. Ten Liberating Assumptions about pronunciation teaching and learning. Modern English Teacher January 2018
Full integration of pronunciation into everything that goes on in the language learning classroom is the elusive step change we are waiting for. It would immediately enhance learners’ facility with pronunciation and bring life to grammar, vocabulary and self expression in the class. It would introduce a new kind of engagement in speaking.It will help us get to that point if we allow ourselves some fresh liberating assumptions about pronunciation learning that could lead to different activities with different purposes in the classroom. First I’ll lay out some of these assumptions so you can see where I’m coming from and whether you agree. Then I will outline some examples of liberating activities that follow from these assumptions that I think could help unlock the door to effectivelintegrating pronunciation in all other classroom activities.These assumptions are informed largely by my experience as teacher and learner, classroom observation and common sense. They prioritise different phenomena which I maintain can solve some of the difficulties that our current methodology appears either unable to solve, or even to cause in the first place.
1. Pronunciation is everywhere and in everything … not just in the obvious activities of speaking and listening. Language is heard subvocally in the mind’s ear when reading, when assembling utterances before speaking aloud, when holding chunks of language in short-term memory, e.g. between reading a phone number and then dialling it, or when holding on to new vocab or grammar while processing it. Even when writing, you may find yourself speaking the word sequences internally as you compose them. This may not always be the case in your first language, but check it out for yourself. The key point here is not just that all this internal speaking takes place, but that the internal voice has a pronunciation. So you cannot get away from the fact that pronunciation is being continuously rehearsed internally.
2. Every lesson is a pron lesson from beginning to end. It follows then that every part of every language lesson involves the inner rehearsal and repetition of pronunciation. It may not be an exaggeration to say that every lesson is a pronunciation lesson from beginning to end, even if pronunciation never enters the teacher’s head or is absent from the lesson plan. Any inner voicing of grammar or vocabulary while it is being studied and processed will simultaneously evoke an inner pronunciation. BUT … what is that internal pronunciation? …… Read more ….
The rest of this article, and the other eight “liberating assumptions” for a new approach to pronunciation are on the MET website … Be warned you will need a subscription. Or get hold of a print copy of MET January 2018 Special Issue on Listening, Teaching and Pronunciation which contains other great pron articles by Jonathan Marks, Mark Hancock and Robin Walker.