For English Learners (teachers scroll down)
Clear pronunciation is important because, without it, others may struggle to understand what you’re saying. Word pronunciation is important, but so is sentence pronunciation. English has a specific rhythm and word stress pattern that, when mastered, can greatly help improve the clarity of what you say. >>Download this handout<< and then watch the following videos about the handout to help you improve your English sentence pronunciation. My screen capture software had a ten-minute limit, so, unfortunately, I had to divide this into two videos.
For English Teachers
Have you ever had a student who you just couldn’t, for the life of you, understand? Of course, there are many factors that play into such an equation, but after analyzing students with very poor pronunciation, I’ve noticed that a part of it relates to their intonation, not simply their word pronunciation. I created this activity because I had a number of students one semester who had very poor pronunciation. I struggled to understand them, and I could tell that other students had pretty much given up trying. During times when we would read the chapter from the biography we were reading in class, these students would read word by word, putting pauses where there shouldn’t be, and not stressing any one particular word. The handout linked above gets students to practice two things: grouping phrases and stressing content words.
I did this activity in class with my students and was surprised at how quickly it improved the clarity and intonation of their speech. It was as if something clicked because they’d simply been missing that piece of information. I could hear a difference in their speech right away.
The last practice activity that asks them to divide the sentences into sound chunks was very difficult for them (I’ve since made written a less complicated paragraph). However, despite the fact that they struggled to actually mark where the sound divisions were, the idea had stuck with them and they were doing it when speaking and reading. Sure, they’re still not perfect and need to work on a lot of different things, but I can hear English stress and intonation emerging, and that’s a win.
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