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TEFL Masterclass – Practical Tips And Tricks For Building Your Pronunciation Teaching Toolkit

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Ben Crompton – ELT Trainer & Director of Studies @SeaHaven Centros de Inglés.

Ben Crompton’s educational journey commenced in 2007 and fully ignited after obtaining his CELTA certification in 2011. Today, as the Director of Studies at Amanda’s School in Spain, his dedication bears fruit as former students often return with heartfelt expressions of gratitude. Renowned for workshops on pronunciation and sustainable teaching practices, Ben is a versatile professional constantly evolving as a trainer, manager, teacher, and writer. His unwavering commitment is to craft memorable learning experiences, making a lasting impact on his students’ lives.

What you will learn

Pronunciation is one of those aspects of teaching that many teachers struggle with. There’s a lot of technical knowledge to get your head around and many of our learners see it as a key aspect of ‘mastering’ a language, even if they often don’t seem to make that much ‘progress’ with it.

A bigger issue at play is that for many teachers, pronunciation can lead to a sense of imposter syndrome. Many teachers say that they lack the confidence to tackle pronunciation in their teaching, and this is only heightened if you add in the ‘non-native vs. native’ debate.

In this practical workshop, I will break down what exactly pronunciation is and why every teacher can become an expert in teaching it. I’ll show you some of the tips and tricks that I’ve got in my pronunciation toolkit, focusing on sounds, intonation, and stress. We’ll then explore why pronunciation is an integral part of developing our learners’ listening skills. At the end, I’ll help you set your own pronunciation targets for your learners in their context.

Workshop Summary

Introduction to Pronunciation Teaching

Ben Crompton leads a Gallery Teachers Masterclass focused on equipping educators with effective strategies for teaching pronunciation. The session aims to demystify pronunciation, presenting it as a multifaceted component of language learning that encompasses sounds, stress, and intonation. These elements are fundamental to both the expressive and receptive facets of language proficiency, setting the stage for a comprehensive exploration of pronunciation teaching.

The Nature of Pronunciation

Pronunciation teaching transcends the mere mechanical replication of sounds, delving into the physical and perceptual aspects of how sounds are produced and understood by learners. The workshop challenges the conventional perception of pronunciation as a daunting task, exacerbated by myths and misconceptions. It highlights the importance of respecting learners’ individual accents, suggesting that the goal is not to achieve an elusive ‘ideal’ accent but to foster an environment where diverse accents are acknowledged and valued.

Empowering Teachers in Pronunciation Instruction

The masterclass underscores the notion that all English teachers, irrespective of their own accents, are fully capable of teaching pronunciation. It introduces a variety of practical techniques aimed at enhancing learners’ pronunciation skills, including the physicality of sound production, the role of intonation, and methods for teaching stress and connected speech. These approaches are designed to improve intelligibility and facilitate effective communication, rather than enforcing a standardised pronunciation model.

Pronunciation’s Role in Listening Skills

The significance of pronunciation in developing listening skills is emphasised, illustrating how familiarity with connected speech can improve learners’ ability to comprehend natural spoken English. This skill is particularly vital in contexts where English functions as a lingua franca, enabling learners to engage more effectively in conversations with non-native speakers. The workshop provides guidance on setting appropriate pronunciation targets, tailored to meet the specific needs and contexts of learners, thereby making pronunciation teaching more relevant and goal-oriented.

Conclusion: The Teacher’s Role in Pronunciation Teaching

In conclusion, the masterclass encourages teachers to confidently embrace their role as pronunciation instructors. With the right knowledge and strategies, teachers can significantly support their learners’ progress towards clearer and more confident English communication. The key message is that educators are adequately equipped to integrate pronunciation teaching into their language instruction, leveraging various resources and adapting to the unique needs of their learners. This approach not only enhances learners’ pronunciation skills but also their overall communicative competence.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. What aspect of pronunciation teaching do you find most challenging?
  2. How do you give corrective feedback on pronunciation errors?
  3. Many teachers avoid working on intonation in class. Why do you think this is?
  4. How relevant are the pronunciation topics in your coursebooks/teaching materials to your learners? How could you improve this?
  • Cauldwell, R. (2018) A syllabus for listening: Decoding. Birmingham, UK: Speech in Action.
  • EllloEnglish Listening Lesson Library Online. Available at: https://elllo.org/.
  • English listening rocksEnglish Listening Rocks. Available at: https://www.englishlistening.rocks/.
  • Hancock McDonald ELT. Available at: http://hancockmcdonald.com/.
  • Hancock, M. (2017) PronPack. Hancock McDonald ELT (1-7).
  • Underhill, A. (2008) Sound foundations. Oxford: Macmillan Education.

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