Updated: Sep 28, 2018
English classes are being taught all over the world. Right now, as you are reading this article, somewhere on the planet someone is sitting in a room with a teacher and trying to master the English language. At the same time, there is also someone on on the planet who is desperately scouring books or the internet for activities to do for the day's lesson. That frantic scramble is one all teachers have felt. Don't worry. We are here to help. We can at least offer stuff that can help those who would like to include pronunciation in their lesson. If you are an English language learner then this blog should also help you too because the study materials we post will also include plenty of things for self study.
Pronunciation is one of the most important skills any English language learner to master. Good pronunciation means that students will be better understood by others when they speak. However that's not the only reason why pronunciation is important. Did you know that pronunciation and listening are closely connected. The more students master pronunciation the better they are able to listen to spoken English. That is because of the gap between expectation of sound and the reality.
On a regular basis we will use this page to introduce lesson plans, activities, teaching points, interesting video finds, and other useable things that teachers can immediately incorporate in their lessons.
Learning Focus: Shadowing
This the most important skill for anyone who is studying pronunciation. Shadowing means to repeat exactly what was heard, in the exact same way students heard it. With this skill students can learn to check and correct their own pronunciation. They can heighten awareness of individual sounds. Finally they can naturally practice the rhythm and intonation of English. Shadowing is how we have become the masters of our own native language. Although we are not babies anymore, it still remains one of the most effective ways to develop pronunciation. The difference between us and babies learning to talk is that we have already hardened our habits of speaking. Just like any other type of habit, speaking habits are very difficult to break. It requires a strong awareness of oneself and a determination to change. Shadowing helps to put the mind in a state of self examination and readiness so that changes in speaking can happen. It is difficult at first but, over time, it will become easier.
Shadowing Training Exercise
Before student can practice pronunciation, it is important that they know how to do shadowing. The following activities will help you to do that.
This is an easy way for students to understand the process of shadowing. For this you will need a musical instrument like a harmonica or an app on your smart phone or computer that lets you play notes. You can also download an mp3 file.
Explain what shadowing is and why it is important to master.
Play a random note on your instrument or app and have the students sing that note. Ask the students to be careful to sing the note in the correct pitch. Make sure the students hold the sound out for at least 5 seconds so that they can hear and feel their own voices.
Play a few more notes at random and have the students sing those notes as well. Make sure that each time students hold the notes.
This time play two notes. Students are to sing the same pitch and speed.
Play three notes in random order using random rhythms. Again make sure students sing the same melody (pitch and rhythm).
Continue to add notes and random melodies until it becomes impossible for the students to imitate what you have played.
Explain that Shadowing is done exactly the same way. When students hear an English word they should try to imitate the exact sound and rhythm of that word just like they imitated the exact pitch and rhythm of the music you just played.
You can further expand this exercise by having students sing target vowel sounds or vowel consonant combinations to help them develop muscle memory and the ability to hear the individual sounds of English.
As mentioned above we will post a worksheet and mp3 file for you to download and practice with. Keep checking this page for that.
Let us know in the comments section if the exercise was useful. If you have expanded or improved it then please tell us how.