We’re helping to solve your EFL teaching problems by answering your questions every two weeks. We’ve received some queries about phonetics and pronunciation, specifically how to make pronunciation apps part of the class.
Talk to your students
There are many apps and the first thing a teacher should do is ask their students if they’ve got a pronunciation app and how they use it. Being aware of students who have a pronunciation app will help the teacher integrate it into the class. Then, it is also important to talk to the students about how they use their app. This discussion will also generate some ideas. The discussion may also make some students curious about a pronunciation app and how they could use it.
So, let’s now explore how to integrate the use of the app into the classroom.
Let’s consider first the sounds chart.
Be a resource for students
As the teacher, you can help your students understand certain concepts. For example, voiced and unvoiced sounds. Having a brief discussion on this in class will help students use their app better. They will see that /p/ in “parrot” is unvoiced and that /b/ in “be” is voiced.
Ask students to find 3 sounds on their app that they find difficult. Tell them to write the sample words and the sample sentences from the app. Then, tell them to find 5 other words they know for each sound. Ask them to write a short sentence with each sound, as in the app. Finally, ask them to record the words and sentences, and to play it back. How do they sound?
As the teacher you may want to confirm that the words a student has chosen do represent the sound they have difficulty with. You can also ask students to compare their pronunciation of the voiced/unvoiced pair.
Chart your Progress
If you can, provide students with a small sounds chart. They can probably find one on the internet. Ask them to indicate with a small arrow the 3 sounds they find difficult. Then, as they progress and feel comfortable with the sound, they should put a tick next to it, and add another sound to their list.
Work with others
Encourage students to share their experience with other students in the class. When students find they have difficulty with the same sound, they can help each other, comparing their list of words and sentences. Then, they could also record each others’ words and sentences, comparing their pronunciation with each other as well as the example in the app.
If pronunciation is important for your students, have a sounds chart in the classroom. This will reinforce their work with the app. It is important that they notice not only the sounds they have difficulty with, but also to be aware of the sounds they find easy.
Help them improve
Students may sometimes need you to check on their progress. Be available to help. Maybe once a week, at the end of a lesson, ask about their progress with the pronunciation apps. Ask if they need any help. They may ask you to record a sample sentence. You could offer sample words that may be more helpful than those they have chosen. And, of course, they may have made some mistakes you can correct. Remember, you can help your students get the most from the pronunciation app.
So, you as their teacher can be a resource as well as a helper. In the first case, you can add to their knowledge. In the second case, you can facilitate their progress.
Play the game
Students will usually play the games that come with pronunciation apps. Encourage them to chart their progress.
1. Encourage them to keep a list of the sounds they got wrong
The app will give them immediate feedback on this, so students can simply write the word/sound before moving on to the next one. They can do this in a notebook or simply indicating the difficult sounds on a sounds chart.
2. Encourage them to play a game regularly
Suggest they play a game at least twice a week; once after the English class, and another time on a day when they don’t have English. Ask them to chart their scores for each time. Is there any difference? Students may discover that their scores after English class are generally higher than the others. This may indicate that a student does better when English is fresh in their minds. They may want to listen to English outside of class on a more regular basis. They could listen to music, or watch a movie or TV show without subtitles.
Playing the games will give them information about their learning which they can use to improve their learning of English.
These activities will link their English lessons with their use of their pronunciation app. This alone will help students focus. It will organise their use of the app and make it a useful tool in improving their pronunciation. Making the app part of the lessons will also bring another dimension into their learning, their experience outside the classroom. Finally, helping your students to use the app adds to your role as their teacher, the role of facilitator and resource.
Invitation to share your ideas
We are interested in hearing your ideas about using pronunciation apps, so please comment on this post.
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