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Perking up Pronunciation

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Perking up Pronunciation

by Paul Careless, The Centre for Excellence in Applied Research and Training (CERT) Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi.

Email: paul.careless@hct.ac.ae

Aim: The aim of this exercise is to improve the speaking proficiency - fluency, speed and pronunciation of ESL students. Some teachers/students may have seen a similar approach adopted under the guise of shadow listening. It is best adopted as a long-term objective of a course that can be practised by students on a regular, even daily basis. This exercise can be used by students of different levels. The important thing is to choose listening material that suits the level of the student.
Have students at all levels make a recording of themselves and then they can listen to this to hear how they sound when they speak. It is surprising how critical they can be of themselves!
Approach 1.
Low-Level
Using materials from story books, e.g. Little Golden Books that have matching cassettes, have students read the text from the book aloud as they listen to the cassette. After one try they can repeat the procedure by repeating what they hear without reading from the book. Students will normally be repeating what they hear at a 5-10 second interval.
Other materials include easy songs or ballads like those from the Beatles, Michael Bolton, Kenny Rogers, Whitnet Houston etc.

Medium-Level

Follow the process above but it is not imperative that students read the text as they listen the first time. Emphasise repeating any words they recognise. They may even mumble in between recognised words as they are learning to attend to the speed and intonation of what they are hearing. If possible try to have students record a spoken text and reuse this as often as possible. 10 minutes a day is a good goal.

High-Level

As above but have students listen to news programs and emphasise the skills referred to above.

For students not studying in English-speaking environments, suitable materials can be found on the web; special English t.v. broadcasts; and videos. The teacher can even record him/herself saying something onto cassette.

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