Helping learners to improve their pronunciation

Online teachers can help learners to develop their pronunciation in much the same way as face-to-face teachers do: by modelling pronunciation and giving learners the opportunity to practise that same pronunciation with feedback and tips from the teacher.

Task 1

Watch this short video of the introduction to a talk on pronunciation given by Adrian Underhill. Complete the sentences with a word in each gap.

  1. Adrian suggests that our approach to pronunciation should move from the ____ to the ____.

  2. Adrian says that pronunciation should be physical and ____.

  3. One way to model pronunciation is to use ____ and gestures, giving the sound silently.

  4. Another way is to say the sound/word ____ time.

  5. A third way is for teachers to repeat the word ____ times, although this isn’t Adrian’s approach.

  6. The model used in class ought to be the model of the ____.

Check your answers

Task 2

Read the short article below. According to the writer, how can a webcam help a learner to improve their pronunciation?

Pronunciation: the importance of self-awareness

No matter how many times a teacher says a word, a learner can’t pronounce it correctly unless they’re aware of the following things:

  1. The position of their lips, tongue and teeth when they produce the sound(s) at the moment, i.e. with the influence of L1.
  2. The desired position of their lips, tongue and teeth to produce an effective sound.

It’s easy to model the latter, but without awareness of the former, learners may not be able to bridge the gap and produce the desired sound(s).

One benefit of online lessons is the webcam. Learners can look at the position of their lips, tongue and teeth when pronouncing sounds or words to become better aware of what they’re doing now. For example, some learners pronounce the /m/ sound at the end of a word without their lips touching. This makes it sound like a /n/ sound. If these learners watch themselves in their webcam, they can notice this. Then, when the teacher models the pronunciation, the learner can better make the appropriate change and improve their pronunciation of the sound(s).

Check your answer

In the next step, you’re going to learn about some useful online pronunciation tools and think about how they can be used.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching English Online

Cambridge Assessment English