Teacher Tip – working on pronunciation

English pronunciation can be very confusing. What we write and how we pronounce often seem completely different. This makes our adult students hesitant to speak. Your goal as a teacher is to help your students speak so that they can understood–it’s ok if they have an accent.

Here are a couple of ideas to help your students with some specific pronunciation challenges:

the “th” sounds are universally challenging. We typically tell students to stick their tongue between their teeth to say this sound, but students find this very awkward. Try giving them a lollipop and tell them to hold it in front of their mouths. They should try to lick the lollipop as they say they say the sound, which will automatically cause their tongue to move forward.

The “er” sound can also be difficult. Ask your students to place a pen in their mouths, with the ends sticking out on either side. Next, instruct them to say “er” without their tongue touching the pen. They will need to place their tongue under or around the pen.\

To work on vowel sounds such as “i” vs “ee”, have your students look in a mirror. To pronounce the “ee” sound they should pull the sides of their mouths back. to pronounce the “i’ their mouths should be more relaxed. The mirror can also be useful to show the difference in sounds such as “w” and “v”.

Having your students record themselves (on their cellphones) and then listen to the recording can be very eye-opening.

Check out the VOA Learning English website more more ideas.