IATEFL 2013: Pronunciation for listeners: Making sense of connected speech

First post in a series summarising my ‘best bits’ of the IATEFL 2013 conference. Going to try and post at least one thing each day, so watch this space!

This morning I saw Mark Hancock talking about how we can help learners make sense of connected speech features when listening. An entertaining and useful talk… here are the key points I took from it:

Learners may not need or want to sound like a native speaker.

That said, if they’re going to listen to native speakers, who tend to exhibit many features of connected speech when speaking naturally/rapidly, there are things we can do to help them develop their receptive repertoire, so to speak.

One example of this is to do a bit of ‘audio drilling’.

As demonstrated in the session, this consisted in excerpting short chunks of language from a recording and playing them several times in quick succession.

Mark used examples from a Liverpool radio programme–see if you can work out which word completes all these gapped chunks:

Do you ________ know?
…if you ________ highlight…
…if you ________ met them all…
…but it ________ …
… __________ ninety…

The word is “actually” but pronounced quite fast and more like “atchly” or even “atchy” in these clips.

You’ll notice that it’s hard to get this word from just those gapped phrases. But this isn’t about teaching collocations/lexical chunks, or at least, not in this case. In this particular example, the learners would be looking at a very common discourse marker, and/or redundancy in speech. Something they often can’t catch, and arguably don’t need to–but may want to!

He showed some other interesting materials and activities in the session which my description alone can’t do justice to here–I recommend you check out his website. You can find PDFs of his talk slides (including activities/materials) under the ‘Talks’ tab.

My own take on a common phenomenon of rapid/
natural speech (elision)…


About Laura Patsko

Teacher trainer, language learner, language teacher, linguist, researcher. Not necessarily in that order.


  1. hi laura,

    thanks for the write up, there is a great post here by a previous attendee of one of Mark Hancock’s talks who used the microlistening technique in one of her lessons – http://amodisco.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/cracking-the-code/


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