Ten Classroom Activities based on my Ten Liberating Assumptions about Pronunciation (that appeared in the Jan 2018 issue of Modern English Teacher) Part 2 is in the Apr 2018 issue of MET

In Part 1 of this article (MET 27.1 in Jan 2018) I outlined ten different ways of looking at pronunciation learning – liberating assumptions I called them – that I have made about pronunciation learning and teaching. Assumptions because they are points of view that affect what one thinks, sees and does while teaching, and liberating in so far as they free one to do things differently. Here in Part 2 are ten examples of different classroom activities that follow from such assumptions.

  1. Don’t repeat after me!

Instead of repeating new sounds or words aloud after the teacher gives a model, the student is invited to listen to the teacher’s model. Then listen to it again internally using their own inner ear. And only then to say it aloud. We have the capacity to retain things we hear, and to ‘replay’ them internally, as if on an internal repeating loop. This internal replay can catch qualities of the original pronunciation that get lost if repeated aloud immediately, because the L1 habits of the speech muscles obscure the bits they cannot manage. Allowing this moment of internal listening allows a sort of internal ‘tasting’ of the word or phrase, which gives an expectation of the sounds and energy distribution, and better informs the voice, when the student says it aloud a couple of seconds later. Another benefit is that when you listen internally to the model you become clear immediately which bit of it you are less sure about, and when the teacher gives it a second time the student is receptive to it in a slightly different way. So the sequence I often use is like this:

  • Listen to this word/sentence, but don’t repeat aloud.I then give the model.
  • Now listen to it again internally, in your inner ear.
  • Can you hear it? Let it repeat …
  • I then ask Would you like it again? They usually nod yes.
  • So I say it again, just a little differently so it is fresh but not surprising.
  • Now say it aloud but just for yourself.
  • And now let’s hear some of you. And I invite some students to say it aloud individually in the conventional
  1. Can you hear the difference?

Take the classroom situation where students in turn say a model aloud to the class, for example at the end of activity 1 above, or during any other class activity. As an alternative to offering my evaluation to each student, I can instead say:

  • Listen to each other as we go round. Can you hear the difference? (i.e.between each other’s versions …)
  • And again after listening to several: Can you hear some differences?

They usually indicate yes. The point is not to evaluate each as better or worse, correct or incorrect, but to hear small differences in pronunciation between them and so on. What I like is that the students don’t have to identify the differences, just notice that they are not quite the same. Once they are at the level of hearing subtle differences between versions we are in business. This gets everyone listening and develops sensitivity to differences regardless of whether they are correct, so everyone gets drawn into the game. It also starts to train the ear to hear small differences and the mouth to make small differences.

  1. Get ready to say it … but don’t …!

When the class are individually, and silently, formulating a response to a question Read more ….The rest of this article appears in MET April 2018, and is available on the MET website … You will need a subscription. Alternatively get hold of a print copy of MET April 2018.