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Teaching Pronunciation that Matters (by Nina Septina)

Nina on guitar

Pronunciation is like an art to me, and I’ve always enjoyed it. It is like learning how to play guitar, where we have to figure out when to use different picking strategies or strumming patterns to produce the desired sounds. In pronunciation, we also need to use many different techniques and tongue positions in our mouth to produce the right sounds. Another similarity is that we’ve got to know when to change how hard or softly we should hit the guitar strings when playing a song. The same thing happens when we have to figure out how hard or how soft we should stress certain syllables in words, or some words in sentences when speaking. Finally, there’s the use of rhythm as the main component that shapes the flow of the song, just as it also shapes the flow of the speech in pronunciation.

A socializing game: Driver’s seat (by Anne Hodgson)

A few weeks ago I was teaching a group of personal and team assistants (PAs) I hadn’t met before how to assist international teams. This group didn’t need to go over critical incidents they’d had with foreign team members. Instead, they said their biggest challenge was making small talk with their visiting American team members. So that’s what we practiced.


The Foolproof Lesson

Most teachers have a short list of foolproof activities they can build a lesson around in a pinch–and this is one of mine.

It’s foolproof because it works for all levels, all ages, and with or without prepared materials. It’s deceptively simple, so beginning students are able to expand their existing language skills and strategies without feeling intimidated. Students control the difficulty, and discover the language they need in the process of completing a task. I’ve done this successfully with with both children and engineers (at extreme ends of the language skill spectrum), but will demonstrate it with a class I currently teach of beginning adults. (more…)