Teach Me How to Speak! Three Webinars for Teaching Pronunciation

Teach Me How to Speak! Three Webinars for Teaching Pronunciation

“Pronunciation should not be seen as ‘fixing problems’ but rather as ‘teaching how to speak” (Yates, 2012, p. 1).

If you’re interested in helping adult ESL learners increase their confidence and comprehensibility, incorporating pronunciation instruction into lessons on a regular basis is the way to go! With a large amount of our daily communication taking place over the phone or online, intelligible pronunciation is more important than ever. Three basic pronunciation features: voice quality settings, word stress, and intonation have a large impact on how easy a speaker is to understand. Instruction on these three features can easily be incorporated into in-person or remote lessons whether you are teaching one-on-one or working with a group in a virtual classroom.

The Pronunciation Webinar Series, facilitated by Andrea Echelberger of Literacy Minnesota, explores the three pronunciation features in depth. Each webinar provides viewers with an overview of the highlighted feature, how the feature impacts the ability of listeners to understand the speaker, and offers explanations and video examples of activities that help learners produce the features in their own speech. Click on the links below to watch the three webinars.

Webinar 1: Voice Quality Settings

Voice quality settings are the movements of the jaw, lips, tongue, and larynx that work together to produce the individual sounds of a language. An effective way to teach VQS is to have the learner watch the mouth movements of a fluent speaker, and then imitate the movements as they watch themselves in a mirror. If you are doing video calls or a virtual classroom with learners, you can easily adapt this activity using the video camera instead of a mirror.

Webinar 2: Word Stress

In English, words with two or more syllable will have one syllable that is louder, longer, and higher in pitch than the other syllables. Word stress is particularly important, because English speakers tend to store words by stress patterns in their brain. When the wrong syllable is stressed, the listener will search for the word in the wrong category, which slows down understanding. When teaching learners virtually, you can easily practice counting syllables and identifying word stress in both new and old vocabulary.

Webinar 3: Intonation

Intonation is often referred to as the music of English. Intonation is how speakers draw attention to the important words in an utterance, signal the difference between a question and a statement, and convey important information about mood, emotion, attitude. In this webinar, you can learn how to use the mirroring technique to have learners imitate the intonation of native English speakers. This webinar also features special guest Colleen Meyers, who shares her tips and techniques for teaching intonation to English learners using video calls.

Find more great webinars on the Minnesota ABE Professional Development YouTube channel (conveniently available for you at tinyurl.com/mnabepd).

Andrea Echelberger, ESL Training Coordinator Literacy Minnesota