Έγινε ενημέρωση: 8 Απρ 2021
Pronunciation lessons are undoubtedly of the most neglected – if not completely non-existent – lessons in the EFL classroom. The two usual suspects? On the one hand, there’s the uncertainty a non-native teacher feels of their own pronunciation. On the other hand, course books and teacher’s books offer poor resources to students and teachers to practice pronunciation during class and at home. Of course, this is not a problem solely encountered in the Greek reality, there are also countries facing this issue more frequently and more intensely.
The Japanese way
One of these countries that have great difficulty adjusting to English pronunciation is Japan, with a lot of people struggling to rid themselves of the Japanglish they learn at school. English vocabulary is given to students with the pronunciation written on the side in Japanese characters, which means that learners are not exposed to the different phonemes that exist in English at all.
Innovators in the field of private English education have developed a useful method so that they can help students acquire a more natural, or just more neutral, accent. It goes like this, and it can work with any Course book as long as it comes with text audio.
First, the teacher needs to choose and process a text from a Course book, highlighting the phonological phenomena they are going to focus on in class.
The teacher then has to explain to students each phenomenon with examples and briefly present possible errors they should avoid during practice.
Next, the teacher needs to familiarize the class with the audio speed, pacing and style, so it’s a good idea to play it once for students to hear and notice.
* In the next two stages, the role of the teacher is more passive. It is essential to observe students and remain focused on what they produce, so that constructive feedback can be given at the end of practice.*
Students get an active role! A four-part practice starts with what is known as Shadowing . Students repeat the audio, starting with a 2-second delay. It’s best to ask students to rely on their listening rather than reading for this exercise. This is a very demanding task which requires that students practice a lot at home, so that they can follow the flow of the text.
In this stage, students are called to do Ondoku – what we’d call reading aloud. This is once again done with the accompaniment of the audio, with students starting at the same time as the speakers and trying to mimic their style and rhythm while keeping up with the speed. This is another demanding task which requires home practice, too, but has tremendous benefits. It helps learners with intonation, style and linking that occurs between words in spoken language, to name just a few.
Feedback – this might be the most crucial part of a pronunciation lesson and it should never be omitted. Ideally, the teacher has taken notes on students’ errors during the last two stages, and is now ready to present them on the board in order to provide further practice. This raises students’ awareness of their own slips and helps them work more consciously on correcting them. Depending on the students’ performance, the teacher can either decide to repeat one of the two previous exercises or move on to a role-play or reading aloud without audio.
Further practice with role-play, speaking exercises or reading aloud.
This pronunciation practice strategy can be used with any kind of text (although dialogues might work better in some cases), in any level and it can stand alone or be part of a bigger lesson. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t have to be dry – in fact it shouldn’t. It can be surprisingly fun if you use realia, gestures and facial expressions, putting on costumes and whatever else you can think of!