Techniques for Improved Pronunciation

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Techniques for improved pronunciation If we take the view that pronunciation does matter and that accent can be reduced in adults, then what can be done? Various classroom techniques and procedures have been developed for improving the pronunciation of adult ESL learners (van Loon 2002; Smith & Beckmann 2005; Frazer ……. These are briefly presented below, in chronological order, under headings which: (a) summarise the major focus of each technique, (b) acknowledge the author/s name/s and (c) show the year of publication A focus on stress and pausing - van Loon - 2002. Van Loon’s technique “is based on using stress and pausing in the same manner as native speakers of English.” Challenged by an article on the importance of prosodic variables, van Loon developed his technique believing that a native-like pattern of stress and pausing was “easy for ESL learners to perceive and master”. (van Loon 2002 p83) His technique presumes that learners have been exposed to lots of grammar and can recognise clauses and parts of speech. It is based on “learners identifying nouns, verbs, and clause junctures before reading aloud. By placing stress on the nouns and verbs followed by pauses, as well as pauses at clause junctures, their pronunciation while reading aloud will become much more native-like.” (van Loon 2002 p84) Van Loon encourages the use of authentic and relevant materials such as student speech samples (heard in class) and news articles. A typical lesson using van Loon’s technique would ‘commence’ as shown in Table 1. Appendix A presents the relevant pages for further perusal. Stage Activity 1 A review of the parts of speech, emphasizing that those that carry meaning are stressed (the nouns and ... ... middle of paper ... ...f errors on a native speaker’s understanding of what they are saying.” However, it is worth noting that no quantifiable evidence is given for such success. A pronunciation checklist Although not a technique as such, Schaetzel and Low’s pronunciation checklist is a useful tool for teaching pronunciation (2009 pp1-7). It was originally designed as a diagnostic tool for assessing the oral proficiency of teachers in Singapore. They suggest that the checklist can be adapted for classroom use, to “make learners aware of particular features of speech that have the potential to cause problems for intelligibility and to help them develop their own pronunciation goals.” (Schaetzel and Low 2009 p4) Using this checklist (see Appendix D), teachers can work with learners to develop a learner pronunciation profile which includes individual pronunciation goals.

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