For pronunciation, I take a physical and playful approach. Many of my students are from Central America. They are reserved and find the expressive movements necessary for pronouncing American English quite embarrassing. I try to keep our pronunciation practice playful. As we practice, I make silly faces and try to get them to mobilize their mouths.
Using Body and Face:
· I teach the vocabulary: lips, teeth, tongue, throat, and jaw.
· I ask students to look at my face when I model pronunciation. I ask them to identify which parts of my face engage when I make various sounds (lips, jaw, tongue, teeth).
· We often do a few simple standing stretches before we settle into pronunciation practice (swinging arms, touching toes, twisting at the waist). Just to loosen up and RELAX.
Physical and Visual Feedback
· Students hold up thin strips of paper in front of their mouth to practice pronouncing the sounds that correspond to: p, ch, and initial t’s. The paper should bend with the burst of air.
· With their hands on throats, or ears plugged, students practice the (voiced) sounds that correspond to: z, th,v, b ,g, and d. They should hear a deep vibration.
· With hands on throats, or ears plugged, students practice the (unvoiced) sounds that correspond to : s, th,f, p ,k, and t. They should hear no vibration at all.
· Students look at their mouths in small hand held mirrors to see their tongue when they pronounce the unvoiced th of “thanks”. They see their lips meet with m, p, and b. They see their teeth on their lower lip when they say v and f.
· I establish the two axes along which vowels are formed in the mouth: front – middle – back and high – low.
· For feedback, I repeat the sound students are making and then produce the target sound. For example:
Teacher: You say eet. I say it.
Is it, high or low? Is it in the front, middle, or back?
What do you do to teach the pronunciation of English sounds?