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American Culture & Language Institute, TESOL Certificate Program
Northern Virginia Community College
• What is Pronunciation?
• Pronunciation Myths
• Stress, Pausing, Thought Groups,
• Sounds (Phonemes) of American English
• Noticing and Self Correction
• Think about a time you either…
– Couldn‟t understand what someone was
– Couldn‟t make yourself understood.
• What did you do?
What is Pronənsiešən?
• The way in which a language, a word, or a
sound is spoken aloud
• Communicative Language Teaching (CLT),
focuses on the rhythm of speech as a
whole, not on individual sounds.
• The result? Fluency and more
• Only native speakers can teach it.
• Teachers must speak „clearly,‟ not naturally
as in normal conversation.
• Pronunciation is about correctly producing
consonant and vowel sounds.
• Accent reduction teaches you to sound like
In the past..
• Demonstrates proper pronunciation of individual
sounds or words.
• Try to imitate teacher‟s speech.
• Points out errors. Asks S to “listen harder.”
• Repeats steps 1-3, slower and louder each time.
Loudness & Pausing
How the Brain Works
Math, Logic, Analysis
Emotions & Facial
To help students move from text bound speech, use
• Different cultures have different
expectations on what‟s appropriate.
• Appropriate Loudness for English
– Speaking too softly interferes with
– Speaking too loudly distorts speech. ELLs
need time to comprehend. They aren‟t deaf.
Teaching Appropriate Loudness
• Discuss how body language interferes
• Discuss how loudness is perceived in US
vs. other cultures.
• Indicate when we can‟t hear = Noticing
• Discuss the pitfalls of inappropriate
• The length of wait time between
connected ideas/Thought Groups
– Wait one clap between ideas.
– Wait two claps at end punctuation.
• ELLs often don‟t pause long enough or
pause in the wrong places!
• Result: Americans lose track of what
ELLs are saying.
• Create an activity with ordinal numbers
or a series of steps:
• Help ELLs identify when and how long to
• Practice choral repetition of instructions
• A group of words that express an idea
• In writing, commas and periods mark
• In speaking, we pause slightly at commas
and longer at periods.
– I‟ll call you / when I finish my homework.
Teaching Thought Groups
• Choose known, lower-level reading
material, poetry, or songs.
• Encourage hypothesis testing, i.e. ELLs
predict thought group position, based on
• Have ELLs listen to check predictions.
• Practice choral reading, pausing at
• A syllable in a word that sounds longer,
louder, or changes in pitch.
• Vowels receive stress. Consonants don‟t.
• Often indicated with CAPITAL letters.
• In English, stress carries meaning.
– It‟s COLD. You NEED a COAT!
• In natural speech…
• Content Words are stressed:
– nouns, main
verbs, adjectives, adverbs, negatives
• Function Words are unstressed or reduced:
– aux verbs, prepositions, articles, pronouns
• ELLs from syllable-timed languages put the
stress on each word or syllable.
– This makes ELLs sound angry,
impatient, or robotic.
– It makes Americans lose track of the
• Count syllables in multisyllabic words.
• Compare stress shift between nouns &
• Practice identifying and using stress with
content words in sentences.
• Rubber bands and clapping.
The change in pitch – rising or falling
Yes/No Questions use rising intonation
– Did you lock the door?
Wh- Questions use falling intonation
– What time does the bus arrive?
Statements use falling intonation
– I like chocolate.
Choice questions use rising/falling intonation
– Do you like Fall or Spring?
• Teach intonation as in the context of
an information exchange.
– Asking for directions
– Ordering food at a restaurant
• Use kazoos to focus on the sound.
• A unit of sound that distinguishes
one word from another.
• In English speech, there are:
– 24 consonant phonemes
– 16 vowel phonemes
Producing English Consonants
t, d, s, z, n, l
p, b, m, w
ch, sh, r, y
k, g, x, w, ng
Producing English Vowels
Producing English Diphthongs
• Generally used as a repair strategy
• Minimal Pairs:
– die vs. tie or wed vs. wet
– bit vs. beat or hoot vs. hot
• Use mirrors and lollypops to aid in place
of articulation identification.
• Use rubber bands as kinesthetic input.
Put it into Practice
• Choose one aspect of pronunciation:
pausing, stress, intonation.
• Choose a participatory style: pairs,
choral, small group, etc.
• Create and teach a 10 minute mini lesson
teaching an aspect of pronunciation.