Teaching Teachers WELL Faculty Institute 2009
Teaching pronunciation
Teaching vocabulary
Teaching students who are still in the Silent
Two types of issues involving pronunciation
Problems that interfere with
Problems that don’t interfere with
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
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 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
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
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
▪ 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
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)
 Repetition is key (same phrase, simple
structures—not variations)
Support oral language with gestures and/or
 Illustrate or gesture a response
Point to a visual
Choose from a set of cards or words or other
TPR—raise hand, thumbs up, raise card or
white board with symbol, move to location in
Modify assessments to incorporate these

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