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Main steps in teaching pronunciation



Content of teaching pronunciation

The content of teachingpronunciation includes: teaching sounds, stress, intonation.

There are 44 English phonemes. Sounds differ depending on how they are formed in the mouth, throat and nose and whether they are “voiced” or “voiceless”. All vowels are voiced; some consonants are voiced and some are voiceless. The most common sound in English is / /- the “schwa” or “weak” sound. There are short and long vowels, diphthongs.

In spoken sentences or utterances some sounds change as words are said at normal speed and linked together to make connected speech:

  • the “weak” forms of words are used: was becomes / w z/, not /w z/; of becomes / v/, not/ v/.
  • some sounds are often not pronounced, for example the or in comfortable ,the d in handkerchief; the t at the end of first in first thing. This is known as elision.
  • when the missing letters are replaced by apostrophes they are known as contractions: for example, I’m, could’ve.
  • in order to make linking of words easier sometimes another sound is inserted. For example, a banana / / and two / / apples and three / / oranges. These are called intrusive sounds.
  • sometimes when words are linked one sound is changed into another sound. For example, Great Britain sounds like Grapebritain. This process is known as assimilation.


In words of two or more syllables, one syllable is stressed more than other(s). This is the primary stress. In utterances the stress is usually on the “content” words or those tha carry information( nouns and main verbs). For example, Throw the ball to Ben. However, sometimes the speaker can choose to stress “non-content” words as in the utterance: Throw it to him, not at him.

Intonation is a pattern of rise and fall in the level( pitch) of the voice, which often adds meaning to what is being said. Rising tone is used in asking yes/no questions, expressing surprise, disbelief, etc. Falling tone is used in normal statements, commands and “wh” questions. Thee are two main techniques of showing intonation in class: by drawing arrows on the board, by arm and hand movement.


The first step in teaching pronunciation is to help students recognize the importance of pronunciation. The next step is to give the students the opportunity of hearing the language pronounced correctly. It can be done with the help of recordings and of course the important model for pronunciation is the teacher. It is important to use natural speech in the classroom (contracted forms, weak forms).

When providing a model it is sometimes useful to contrast certain features of sounds, stress, intonation. To contrast sounds the teacher uses minimal pairs- pairs of words which differ in only one sound,, for example: hat-heart; ship-sheep. To indicate individual sounds the teacher uses:

  • exaggerated movements of the lips, teeth and tongue so that students can see what is happening;
  • gestures( put a hand on a throat to show that the sound is voiced);
  • fingers- a word can be broken down into sounds and each segment is associated with one of the fingers. The teacher points to the appropriate finger and says the sound;
  • visuals-a diagram of the mouth can be put on the board and used whenever a problem with the sound occurs;
  • phonetic symbols- transcription will help students to check their pronunciation with the help of dictionaries.

To indicate stress the teacher uses:

  • gestures- moving the hand like a conductor on the stressed syllable;
  • underlying the stressed syllable, for example hotel;
  • using stress marks-ho tel.

To indicate intonation the teacher uses gestures, marks on the board, arrows.


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