Joanna Smith

Joanna Smith

I taught English and trained teachers for a decade then moved into workplace learning. I then founded Language Fuel to bring together these two passions. We help English teachers grow their practice.

Location New Zealand


  • Yes, agree. I think the point is that pronunciation is not just an aid for accuracy. Which is what most people assume. :)

  • Welcome!

  • Great!

  • HI Luis. Absolutely, some words are pronounced differently in different regions. :) Usually a good dictionary will show different variations of words if that's the case. Also, to understand which is the stressed syllable (without checking a dictionary for 'standard') say it in different ways yourself, TRYING to stress other syllables, and see which one feels...

  • Joanna Smith replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    @ViktoriiaTaranenko Each vowel has its own square. :)

  • Hi Emily. See conversation below. the vowels on the right hand side of the Vowel area. Like /u/

  • Hi Emily. The colon symbol only indicates 'length'. In English that backwards C sound is by default long, so it's always got the colon after it. But the sound of the vowel is indicated by the symbol.

  • I think it's a very quick way to see who's right and wrong. It's quite fun, too. Worth a try, to see if you and your students enjoy it Maybe try a simple one first, like a hand raise. I have sometimes even had "run to a side of the room" as a task. High energy, and funny.

  • Any time a new word or phrase is introduced, practice the pronunciation of it! Any time a text is used (listening or reading), pick some key phrases, and practice pronunciaiton!

  • @AnabellaDemarchi This is a great question. I think consistency very much is important. As a listener, when I hear someone with a 'mixed accent' I get very confused. I'm comfortable with the Irish accent, the Australian accent, the Singaporean accent, the South African accent. My brain knows how to 'translate' the different accents into what I might consider...

  • Yes. At the end of the day, one's accent is a matter of identity. If a student can pronounce words in a variety of ways, but chooses to keep an "accent" they are choosing an identity to represent. They have the ability to choose how "strong" their accent will be. That's then up to them. Our job as teachers is not to erase that choice, but to enable students to...

  • Always a good idea to try one new thing, then master that, then come back and try another idea.

  • That is a matter of teaching about how to link words together. See the later weeks!

  • That depends on what the learning objectives of your class are.

  • Yes, the field of articulatory phonetics is used in speech language therapy as well as in linguistics and applied linguistics. Learning the true 'phonetic alphabet' is much more complex than the English phonemic alphabet we use in teaching English. But understanding the basics of the English phonemic alphabet is a great help when teaching English sounds.

  • I think the important point is to make sure learners practice the spoken form, and don't get confused by the written form (spelling). The order of which is introduced first is possibly less important than ensuring the two forms are clearly distinguished and practised separately.

  • Just added a comment with the video

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  • Here's the missing video!

  • Remember, it's a physical skill that you can practice until it becomes automatic. Like playing a musical instrument.

  • I personally don't link in either situation. In "far less" in my accent (NZE), it's not 2 consonants anyway. Far is /fa:/.

  • Hi Sophie, The most important thing is to try to diagnose what the problem is. It might take some time. You may need some 1:1 time with him. I once had a student who spoke very oddly. Not like his classmates who had the same L1. I asked him if he had a speech impediment in his first language. He was horrified and said no. But the next day, he told me that his...

  • Repetition is always a great idea!

  • They might understand which vowel is the "lowest" (The one the dentist asks us to say!)

  • Joanna Smith replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    @FrancisRyall One thing you could try is to put a thin strip of paper on the tip of your tongue, so it's visible and hangs out of your mouth. Switch between /i:/ and /u:/ and see the paper move.

  • @NatashaW It's quite tricky, isn't it. I'm not a big fan of using "native speaker" but perhaps I could say "speakers of the varieties of English typically labelled as standard." By that, I mean American or British English. There may be native speakers of other varieties of English that have different pronunciation habits. E.g. Singaporean English.

  • Worth a try!

  • You’re welcome to download and use them. :)

  • Hi Sophie. Different L1s definitely have different needs, so you’re on the right track. I’m not super familiar with teaching students with native Romance languages, but it’s good to be aware they’ll have different learning needs from other learners.

  • Hi Natasha. I’m not familiar with any research about different speeds of talking in different languages, but I know it can be very subjective.

  • @KobitaKumariJugnauth It's native English speakers who don't perceive the difference. Precisely because they are part of the same phoneme.

  • Unless they speak a language where these sounds are distinct from one another. In that case, they will be more aware of it than native speakers!

  • You can probably Google this, it comes from the International Phenetic Alphabet. What they have in common is that the air is continuously flowing easily through the mouth.

  • Yes. French uses front rounded vowels, which English doesn't use!

  • Learners of English can absolutely learn these concepts. As with any teaching, it's important to teach small steps at a time. Most good quality textbooks include these kinds of pronunciation exercises with teaching notes too.

  • No, not incorrect. Could easily be linked together.

  • Agree! It's a great strategy for children and can be good for adults too, with well chosen songs.

  • Welcome. This course may help a little, but it's not designed specifically for teachers of deaf learners. I hope you nevertheless find some good nuggets!

  • C-C linking can be quite complex. If you want a meaty website to read more, check out You might find it interesting! But I would not teach all that to learners. It's too subtle. Stick to the general rules I've mentioned.

  • @DeniseMallinson It's not a hard rule, just like any linking rules are not "hard". We always have the option of articulating the words separately. But if there are three, and a speaker drops a sound, it's almost always the middle one. I encourage you to do some experiments. Ask friends to say a few phrases quickly, and listen carefully to how they say it. ...