Teaching Teachers WELL Faculty Institute 2009

Teaching pronunciation

Teaching vocabulary

Teaching students who are still in the Silent
Period

Two types of issues involving pronunciation
1.
Problems that interfere with
understanding
2.
Problems that don’t interfere with
understanding

Ability to pronounce content vocabulary affects
confidence and therefore the student’s
willingness to participate in class

Pronunciation work is valuable for all Ss, even
NESs
For info on speakers of specific languages, see:
Swan, M., & Smith, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learner English:
A teacher’s guide to interference and other problems
(2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Vowels and consonants (multiple sounds for a single letter and
even for a unique combination of letters)
▪ ex: cat vs city
▪ ex: gender vs gap
▪ ex: shook vs tooth

Long vowels and short vowels are actually totally different sounds
▪ ex: The polish vs The Polish
▪ ex: bow (for a boat) vs bow (after a performance)
▪ ex: dove vs dove

Intonation and pitch
▪ ex: I don’t care to…
▪ ex: produce vs produce
▪ ex: object vs object

Consonants in final position
▪ These sounds are dropped in some languages
▪ ex: -ing, -ed

Consonant combinations
▪ Compare church vs machine vs chemistry

Sounds in English that don’t even exist in
other languages
▪ th- in the or thumb
Well, maybe…at least we can try.
Brainstorm at least 3 things you
think you could do…

Teacher repeats, modeling correct
pronunciation

Pronunciation drill/choral practice

Break complex words into syllables to focus
on sounds; blend together at different paces
until more appropriate sound (including
intonation and rhythm) is attained

Individual, private work, one-on-one
 Use audiotape to let student hear their own
sounds

The need for preteaching…
 Words provide anchors and context
 Hearing words in isolation helps the ELL “locate”
them within longer passages

Include phrases or even sentence patterns as
appropriate for your content area.
 Ex: geometric proof language (If,…then),
therefore, as a result, so, and vs. or

Point out “false friends” (false cognates).
 Ex (Sp.) : embarassada = pregnant; caravana =
traffic jam (Ger.): Sympathie = liking (not
condolences)

Idiomatic expressions
 ex: Out of the blue, once in a blue moon, single
file, hold your horses, etc.
 Conger (2006). Between the lines. Idioms.
Greenville, SC: Superduper.

Phrasal verbs
 ex: Apply to/for
 ex: take with/from/away/away
from/over/along/up/ place/part

Multiple meanings (esp. content area specific
vs. everyday use)
 ex: table, square, right,
How do we do it?
Brainstorm at least 3 things you
think you could do…

Check text for:
 False cognates
 Words with multiple meanings
 Phrasal verbs
 Idiomatic expressions
 Words and phrases specific to content area
 Use of words in noun form, for ex., rather than
verb or another more common usage (run, strike)
 Essential conjunctions (cause/effect, contrast,
chronological/sequence, etc.)

Provide visuals (still or moving)
 If moving, any accompanying audio should reflect
directly the image seen

Use gestures and/or demonstrations

Hands-on activities with extensive use of the
new vocabulary

Provide active repetition practice (for
pronunciation purposes as well as use of the
new/difficult/focus vocabulary in context)

Compare/contrast the various meanings of
multiple meaning words
 ex: table, cable, acute, obtuse, plot, meter, etc.

Break words into prefix/root/suffix to teach
meaning
▪ Ehrlich, I. (2003). Instant vocabulary. NY: Penguin Books.

Compare and contrast similarly spelled words
that have different meanings
▪ Phythian, B. A. (1989). A concise dictionary of
confusables. Kent, U.K.: Hodder & Soughton.

Students comprehend, but do not produce
language (they do not speak or write)
 Also true for parents and any newcomer
 Length of time varies in part according to
educational background

How do we know if content is understood?

How do we ensure that learning is taking
place?

How do we lower the affective filter to
encourage eventual speech/writing and
general participation?
How do we know if learning is taking place?

Brainstorm at least 2 ways you could know
whether the ELL is learning…

Brainstorm at least 2 ways you think you
could help to lower the affective filter…

(Remember that you should not force language
production during this period)
Teacher:
 Repetition is key (same phrase, simple
structures—not variations)

Support oral language with gestures and/or
visuals
Students:
 Illustrate or gesture a response

Point to a visual

Choose from a set of cards or words or other
realia

TPR—raise hand, thumbs up, raise card or
white board with symbol, move to location in
room

Modify assessments to incorporate these
strategies
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