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May 29, 2006

Lesson Planning - Teaching Pronunciation

Hello Lesson Planners,

Many ESL students (especially those from certain regions of Asia) tend to be nearly obsessive about grammar in ELL – in fact, you may find that they know far more about English grammar then you do. You know how to use it – most of them have had the rules of grammar drilled into them for many years. It is a bit humbling to have someone in halting English explain some arcane nuances of grammar in your own native tongue.

My experience is that ESL students have difficulty in two major areas – and grammar is not one of them. They generally have problems with . . .

. . . (1.) pronunciation - and (2.) making sense of idioms (NOTE: see my comments on teaching English idioms HERE).

One method I have used to assist new speakers in their pronunciation is the old standby – tongue twisters. Some are fun and some are more challenging. You can find piles of these on the web. There are a variety of difficulties as well as lengths depending on the level of the student.

These are great “fillers” if you have a last 5-10 minutes of class with nothing scheduled.

I like to write these on the board, say them correctly a few times and then have the class as a whole recite them several times and then have students recite them individually.

Here are a few examples in approximate order of increasing difficulty:

Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.

Ann and Andy's anniversary is in April.

Rolling red wagons

Four furious friends fought for the phone.

The queen in green screamed.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Mares eat oats and does eat oats / and little lambs eat ivy / A Kid will eat ivy too, wouldn't you?

What a terrible tongue twister / what a terrible tongue twister / what a terrible tongue twister...

If Stu chews shoes, should Stu choose the shoes he chews?

Seventy seven benevolent elephants

Picky people pick Peter Pan Peanut-Butter, it’s the peanut-butter picky people pick.
(from a commercial)

Some Asian ESL learners in particular, I have noticed, seem to have problems with words with a "th" ending. Take the work “North,” for example – if you can get them to overcome their shyness and stick their tongue out until they master the sound, they will be eternally grateful.

Would love to hear how you've approached the task of teaching pronunciation (and dealing with difficult to pronounce words in English) in your classes. Please feel free to share them with our friendly community in the comment box below.


May 2006 Guest-Writer for ESLemployment

Looking for more articles about lesson planning for the ESL classroom? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Morf currently lives in Tacoma, Washington. He has taught for about 20 years, in every unlikely situation from state prisons, Native American Tribal colleges, his local rescue mission, and community colleges as well as for online courses at the university level. He has also taught for both children's language camps and at universities in China. He has a Master's degree (in teaching English) from the University of Washington in Seattle and is looking forward to a return to teaching and living in Asia in some capacity in the very near future. His favorite things are interesting foods, wacky music, swimming, riding his bike and afternoon naps.

Posted by ESL Lesson Plan at May 29, 2006 02:11 PM

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» Lesson Planning - Beefing up the ESL Textbook from ESL Lesson Plan
One thing I really like doing here is taking a basic lesson from a book and beefing it up. For example I was teaching Middle school aged learners at a winter camp a few weeks ago. We were following a text book that was very grammar centric and contai... [Read More]

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