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Helping students to improve their pronunciation

Ways of helping students to improve their pronunciation in online lessons
Lindsay, teaching pronunciation online has some advantages. It does, yeah. I think we would teach pronunciation in the same way we do face-to-face. We correct students. We help them to get it right. You’ve got this wonderful camera on your device that you can get very close to, so the teacher can go very close to the camera and really show the position of the mouth. And the student can really have a look and see. The position of the teeth and the tongue and the lips and shapes. Exactly. And you can get closer in the way that you just wouldn’t in the classroom, I think, sometimes.
And also the student can then come closer to the camera and look at themselves and try and copy and see if they’re doing it in the same way. And the teacher can look at it as well and say, no, your mouth is not around enough. Make your mouth rounder or something. Exactly. Yeah. So the student basically has a mirror in the classroom by looking at the camera. So that’s one way. Yeah. I think recording is really useful for helping pronunciation. So for example, the teacher can record the student and take it home at their leisure, listen to it really carefully, and identify specific areas of pronunciation that the student has difficulty with.
The students can take the recording and listen to it after, maybe just do it again and keep doing it until they feel they’ve got it really right. You could have recordings of the teacher that the student takes home and repeats. There’s also a whole world of YouTube videos and people with different accents. And so the more the students listen, the more they improve their pronunciation. Absolutely. I think it’s important for the students to notice. They listen to the video, they really notice how people from around the world pronounce things differently in English and choose the model that they want to mimic and then listen and repeat, listen and repeat. Yeah. And of course, there’s also using the board.
Yeah, so just like in a face-to-face classroom, you can use the board to draw the mouth, position of the tongue or to show linking, for example– something like that. That would be good. Yeah. And also there are apps, aren’t there? There’s sounds app that you can download, or the student can download specific sounds to practise. Yeah, that’s a really good app so students can listen to the different sounds and repeat. And that’s a good way of getting them using the phonemic script as well, if that’s something you want them to do.

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. There are tools that online teachers can exploit to benefit their students’ pronunciation.


Watch Lindsay and Marie Therese talk about how to help students improve their pronunciation in online lessons. Complete the sentences with a word in each gap.

  1. A teacher can get close to the ______ to show the position of their mouth when producing a sound. The student can do the same to see if the position of their mouth is the same.

  2. A student can ______ a lesson and listen back to evaluate and improve their pronunciation.

  3. A teacher can use the ______ to show how words are linked together.

  4. Students can listen and notice the pronunciation in online ______ and use it to improve their own pronunciation.

  5. Students can use online tools such as Macmillan’s ______ app to practise pronouncing sounds.

Now, check your answers.

Reflect and share

What pronunciation challenges do your learners typically face? How might you help them with those challenges in a one-to-one lesson? Share your ideas in the comments.

This article is from the free online

Teaching English Online

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