IATEFL Poland presentation: Integrating pronunciation

Here’s the video of my presentation today at the 22nd IATEFL Poland conference (and you can also view the original presentation slides):

(Thanks to Willy for being the cameraman!)

And here’s a brief run-down of what I covered:

Integrating pronunciation work with a coursebook-led syllabus

Activity 1: Needs analysis

1. Re-type a list of sentences from a coursebook exercise (e.g. sentences from a grammar practice task).  Here’s an example I used recently from New Total English Upper-intermediate (pg. 77):

New Total English Upper-intermediate, p. 77 (Pearson, 2011)

2. Assign one sentence to each student; they each prepare then dictate their sentence to the others.

3. Collect the students’ notes afterwards and analyse what they had difficulty with.

To help organise and standardise the students’ notes (which facilitates later analysis), I use a dictation table like this:

Student-student dictation table

Here’s an example of how the dictation table might look once a student has filled it in:

An anonymised example of student-student dictation
Note to self: next time, use shorter sentences or leave more space to write…

This type of needs analysis is especially pertinent to multilingual classrooms with an ELF focus.  I’ll write about this in more detail elsewhere and post a link here, so watch this space.

Activity 2: “Sound hunt”

1. Students ‘mine’ a given text/exercise for examples of a particular sound(s), e.g. /ɪ/ and /iː/.

2. They then note the spelling patterns associated with this sound(s) and try to think of more examples.

Here’s the example I used in the workshop, from New English File Elementary, p. 21 (OUP, 2004).  Can you find examples of  /ɪ/ and /iː/?

New English File Elementary, p. 21 (OUP, 2004)

(Key: /ɪ/ occurs in ‘inside’, ‘in’ (several times), ‘office’, ‘hospital’, ‘with’ (several times) and arguably in the ‘-ing’ of ‘morning’ and ‘evening’; /iː/ occurs in ‘evening’, ‘people’ and arguably the last syllable of ‘factory’, though a shorter version of the vowel.)

Activity 3: “Find something in common”

Similarly to Activity 2, students search a list of words for ones which share something, e.g. a stress pattern.

Here’s an example from an FCE multiple-choice cloze practice task from FCE Gold Plus Coursebook, p. 103 (2008, Pearson Longman) – can you find all the words/phrases with the stress pattern ‘o O o’?

FCE Gold Plus Coursebook, p. 103 (2008, Pearson Longman)

(Key: connection, consumers, on order, discover.  Conveniently, there are also other words/phrases in there with three syllables but a different pattern: organised, excellent, in effect, on the whole.  And there are some words which learners might mistakenly believe to have three syllables, e.g. ‘managed’.  So there’s plenty of internal processing that needs to go on to achieve this task.)

Possible follow-up: they could then write these on slips of paper for revision/peer-testing in a future lesson.

Activity 4: “Which is which?”

This is a particularly useful activity for when something just comes up in a lesson that you didn’t anticipate and therefore couldn’t have planned for.

For example, a student in my advanced class once discovered in the middle of an activity that ‘coma’ and ‘comma’ had different pronunciations (a common difficulty for students whose L1 is Spanish, as his was).

1. The teacher writes two similar-sounding words/phrases/sounds on opposite sides of the whiteboard (e.g. ‘pie’ and ‘buy’, ‘I’d like and ‘I like’, etc.).

2. The teacher says one or the other at random, several times; the students point at which one they hear.

3. The students then do the same in pairs, thereby testing each other’s receptive and productive skills.

Activity 5: “Break it up”

This is very useful for identifying tone groups (a.k.a. word groups, a.k.a. thought groups) and working on appropriate placement of nuclear stress (i.e. where the main stress and accompanying pitch change occurs in a tone group).

(I realise that’s a lot of terminology and may be unfamiliar to some teachers, let alone learners, hence why I usually introduce the concept as ‘pausing’ when working on this in class.  I find this activity also draws learners’ attention to the fact that “fluent” does not mean speaking at machine-gun speed, but that effective communicators – whether native or non-native, and consciously or not – tend to break up the stream of their speech into smaller, manageable chunks, to make things easier for their listener(s).  So it’s OK for them to pause briefly, and even helpful for them to plan how they’ll do this, e.g. if they have a presentation to prepare.)

It’s very simple – students mark the tapescript for where they expect pauses and stresses to fall, then listen to check.  (Note: the convention for marking breaks between tone groups is a forward slash.)

To make this more challenging, you could have students first transcribe the short text directly from the CD, kind of like a dictogloss (except that you’re not interested in grammaring in this case, but in pronunciation features).

Here’s an example of the end of a listening text I did this with in an intermediate business class:

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 06.00.58

And that’s all!  Feel free to leave any questions/comments below.



5 thoughts on “IATEFL Poland presentation: Integrating pronunciation

    1. Glad you liked it, Sandy! I’ll post the video of the full talk soon. And re: the st-st dictation needs analysis, for a more thorough account of how it works, its pros and cons, keep an eye out for the ELF Pron blog Katy & I are working on… 😉

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