There are many reasons for including pronunciation activities in your lessons. Students need pronunciation activities not only to help their speaking but also to help develop their listening ability. When there is a breakdown in communication, the problem may well not lie with the speaker, but rather with the listener. Such problems are not limited to non-native speakers but can often occur between two different native speakers.
Let’s look at how we can integrate pronunciation into teaching and make it an integral part of most lessons.
When should we do pronunciation work?
Pronunciation shouldn’t be limited to a particular time in a lesson. Doing so makes pronunciation seem something of an add-on, an afterthought. Pronunciation can be integrated at many stages of a lesson and is a logical part of many speaking, listening and vocabulary activities.
For example, spend some minutes of your lesson getting students to distinguish between two phonemes (sounds) when they have a problem doing so.
Think about what exactly causes the misunderstanding. If it is a particular sound, word stress, intonation, and so on. Get your students to pronounce individual words perfectly and connect them to a speech.
Improve pronunciation during a listening activity
The focus of most listening activities is to answer a set of comprehension questions or some other comprehension task such as to complete a chart, indicating which speaker said which sentence, etc.
To make the most of a listening text for pronunciation purposes, two things need to be done. First, a task needs to be specifically designed to focus on aspects of pronunciation. It is no good simply to listen to a piece and complete the standard comprehension task. Second, the listening text needs to be played many times. It is also quite useful if the focus is on only a small section of a listening task (one or two lines) as then more concentrated work can be done in terms of pronunciation.
Improve pronunciation during a speaking activity
It is essential that you take every opportunity to practice pronunciation when you are doing a speaking activity. For example, after completing a dialogue listening activity, why not give your students the transcript and get them to act it out in pairs? In fact, playing with pronunciation is often a good way to raise awareness and engage students in the activity.
In short, integrating pronunciation into your classes and making it an integral part of your lessons will demystify it and make it far more accessible for your learners. As long as you use a variety of activity types and focus on different aspects of pronunciation as and when appropriate or necessary, you will soon find that your students both enjoy and benefit from the work you do. Making pronunciation work a routine part of your teaching will mean that your students see it as just part of the lesson and not simply a five-minute add-on when you either have time or have nothing better to do.
How do you teach pronunciation to your students? Do you use any of the techniques said above?