Thursday, March 22, 2018

CATESOL Journal Special Issue Focuses on Pronunciation

Pronunciation is the theme of the upcoming special issue of The CATESOL Journal (Spring 2018). It is chock full of digestible research, valuable concepts, and practical teaching methods to help students speak more clearly, as well as reviews of other recent publications in the field of pronunciation. 

Many thanks to guest editors Donna Brinton, John Levis, and Ana Wu and the numerous authors whose contributions make this exciting volume. To tantalize you, read through the table of contents below. At the end, find a link where you can gain free access to the open source journal.

Table of Contents

The CATESOL Journal 

Volume 30 • Number 1 • 2018
John Levis, Ana Wu, & Donna M. Brinton (Guest Editors) 

Introduction to the Special Issue
John Levis, Iowa State University
Ana Wu, City College of San Francisco
Pronunciation: Research into Practice and Practice into Research

Feature Articles
Isabelle Darcy, Indiana University
Powerful and Effective Pronunciation Instruction: How Can We Achieve It?
Marsha J. Chan, Sunburst Media
Embodied Pronunciation Learning: Research and Practice
Alison McGregor, University of Texas, Austin
Marnie Reed, Boston University
Integrating Pronunciation into the English Language Curriculum: A Framework for Teachers
Alene Moyer, University of Maryland
An Advantage for Age? Self-Concept and Self-Regulation as Teachable Foundations in Second Language Accent
Sinem Sonsaat, Iowa State University
Native and Nonnative English-Speaking Teachers’ Expectations of Teacher’s Manuals Accompanying General English and Pronunciation Skills Books
John Levis, Iowa State University
Greta Muller Levis, Iowa State University
Teaching High-Value Pronunciation Features: Contrastive Stress for Intermediate Learners
Christine Lewis, University of Brunei Darussalam
David Deterding, University of Brunei Darussalam
Word Stress and Pronunciation Teaching in English as a Lingua Franca Contexts
Taylor Anne Barriuso, University of Utah
Rachel Hayes-Harb, University of Utah

High Variability Phonetic Training as a Bridge from Research to Practice

CATESOL Exchanges

Marla Yoshida, UC Irvine, International Programs
Choosing Technology Tools to Meet Pronunciation Teaching and Learning Goals
Andrea Echelberger, Minnesota Literacy Council
Suzanne Gilchrist McCurdy, University of Minnesota
Betsy Parrish, Hamline University
Utilizing a Study Circle Model to Improve Teacher Confidence and Proficiency in Delivering Pronunciation Instruction in the Classroom

Erin Zimmerman, American University of Beirut
Reconsidering Assumptions of Beginner Teachers’ Needs: An Examination of Commonly Used Pronunciation Textbooks
Shem Macdonald, La Trobe University
Pronunciation Tutorials: Not Only Sounds, But Also Awareness of Self and Context
Murray Munro, Simon Fraser University
How Well Can We Predict L2 Learners’ Pronunciation Difficulties?
Donna M. Brinton, Educational Consultant, Los Angeles, California

Reconciling Theory and Practice


Ellen Rosenfield, University of California, Berkeley
Review of Mark Hancock’s PronPack (Hancock McDonald ELT)
Ivanne Deneroff, University of California, Santa Barbara
Review of Marla Yoshida’s Beyond Repeat After Me (TESOL Publications)
Carolyn Quarterman, Duke University
Review of Tamara Jones’ Pronunciation in the Classroom: The Overlooked Essential (TESOL Publications)
Janet Goodwin, University of California, Los Angeles
Review of John Murphy’s Teaching the Pronunciation of English: Focus on Whole Courses (University of Michigan Press)
Alif Owen Silpachal, Iowa State University
Review of Jose A. Mompean and Jonás Fouz-González’ Investigating English Pronunciation: Trends and Directions by (Palgrave Macmillan)
Barry D. Griner, University of Southern California
Review of Marina Cantarutti’s Pronunciation Bites (blog)

Access and download the individual papers at 
Look for Volume 30 Number 1.

Friday, February 16, 2018

What Language Teachers Must Know to Teach Pronunciation

Marsha J. Chan, Donna M. Brinton, and Judy B. Gilbert

How can language teachers prepare themselves to teach English pronunciation? Three pronunciation experts describe what teachers must know to teach students to pronounce English more clearly. We believe that any well-trained teacher can teach pronunciation. In a live presentation, which you may view here, we provide a training framework drawn on current theory and practice, engage participants in interacting with numerous points, and offer resources for further information. We describe and give examples of essential conceptual issues, basic oral language features, and fundamental instructional concerns. We offer practical suggestions for classroom teachers of English learners.

A. Conceptual knowledge: A basic philosophy of pronunciation

1.     Spoken language differs from written language.
2.     Pronunciation is a physical act.
3.     Awareness of vowel duration is essential.
4.     Listeners of English perceive the relative importance of information based on stress, intonation, and pausing.
5.     Learning how to “listen mindfully” is essential to any kind of pronunciation improvement.
6.     Pronunciation can be integrated in classes for all language skills.
7.     Some aspects of pronunciation are more important than others.
8.     Pronunciation work does not disrespect a learner’s L1, home culture, or identity.

B. Descriptive knowledge: The basic facts of pronunciation

1.     The smallest building block of pronunciation is the phoneme (unit of sound) and its allophones (variations).
2.     Pronunciation consists of segmentals (the individual phonemes) and suprasegmentals (stress, intonation, rhythm, and connected speech features)
3.     Syllables and stress are the building blocks of rhythm and intonation.
4.     Thought groups/tone units are the basis of all prosody/suprasegmental work.
5.     Pitch change occurs on the most important word (the stressed syllable of the key word/focus word).

C. Procedural knowledge: The basic skills needed to teach pronunciation

It is important for teachers to:
1.     have a working familiarity with both segmental and suprasegmental features of speech
2.     perceive intonation patterns/pitch changes
3.     perceive variable vowel duration that produces rhythm in English
4.     teach pronunciation in connection with listening discrimination skills
5.     use movement in teaching pronunciation
6.     prioritize pronunciation issues for communicative purposes
7.     provide useful feedback through demonstration and explanation
8.     integrate pronunciation into language teaching
9.     help learners develop automaticity
10. teach compensatory strategies

Click here to watch the video based on the live presentation given at the CATESOL 2013 Annual Conference in San Diego, California as the inaugural Teaching of Pronunciation Interest Group colloquium. Note: The sound during the introduction is difficult to understand. It becomes clear at the 4-minute mark, when the presenters begin speaking.

Click here to download the 6-page handout, which includes the pronunciation teaching framework, a selection of professional reference texts and resources, classroom textbooks (with suggested levels), and suggested websites for pronunciation and listening.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Anytune Slows Down Sound Tracks for Language Practice–complete "How to" article

I introduced the app Anytune in a 2016 post, and provided a link to my video demo. Subsequently, I wrote a complete "How to" article, accessible from the following links.

A version of this article was first published as Chan, M. J. (2017). Anytune slows down sound tracks for language practice. In M. O’Brien & J. Levis (Eds), Proceedings of the 8th Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference (pp. 191-194). Ames: Iowa State University. 

A version for CATESOL News Fall 2017 Vol. 49, No. 2 was slightly modified to fit that publication. 


Anytune, a slow-downer app designed for musicians and singers, allows you to adjust the tempo of a music track without changing the pitch. Learning to speak a new language fluently is like learning music. When a phrase, dialog, story, or speech is played through Anytune, a learner can slow it down and practice it easily. Anytune loads all songs in your iTunes library; then you pick a track to practice. Within the track, you can set A and B points around difficult phrases to create a loop that plays at a percentage of the original tempo. The loop automatically restarts and plays from A to B so that you can practice the phrase again and again. The Step-it-up Trainer function repeats a section, incrementally increasing the speed from 50% to 100% in 10 repetitions. The tempo and number of repetitions can be adjusted to your liking. These features allow you, as a teacher, to tailor the way you present a recorded model to your students. Students using Anytune can use these controls independently to build pronunciation accuracy, speed, rhythm, expression, and fluency. I have no connection with Anytune developers, but I do find this 5-star music practice app useful for personal use as well as for my language-learning students. This article will explain how to use a selection of its features that are especially useful for language learners.

To read the following sections, access the complete article.

Download and Install the App

Import Sound Files
Play a Sound File
Control the Tempo
Create a Loop and Practice a Segment Repeatedly
Step It Up From Slower to Normal Tempo

Monday, November 27, 2017

Teaching the Pronunciation of English: Focus on Whole Courses


Teaching the Pronunciation of English

Focus on Whole Courses
Michigan Teacher Training
John Murphy, Editor

Description from the above webpage

This volume fills a gap by introducing readers to whole courses focused on teaching the pronunciation of English as a second, foreign, or international language. This collection is designed to support more effective pronunciation teaching in as many language classrooms in as many different parts of the world as possible and to serve as a core text in an ESOL teacher development course dedicated to preparing pronunciation teachers.

Teaching the Pronunciation of English illustrates that pronunciation teaching is compatible with communicative, task-based, post-method, and technology-mediated approaches to language teaching.  This theme permeates the volume as a whole and is well represented in Chapters 3-12, which are dedicated to specialist-teachers’ firsthand depictions of pronunciation-centered courses.  Each of these ten chapters features a set of innovative teaching strategies and contemporary course design structures developed by the chapter contributor(s).

To prepare readers to more fully appreciate the substance and quality of Chapters 3-12, the volume’s two initial chapters are more foundational.  Chapters 1 and 2 provide an overview of core topics language teachers need to know about to become pronunciation teachers:  the suprasegmentals (thought groups, prominence, word stress, intonation, and pitch jumps) and the English consonants and vowel sounds.

Introduction and Background to Pronunciation Teaching 1
Part 1: What Teachers Need to Know about Phonology 30
Chapter 1
Suprasegmentals: Thought Groups, Prominence, Word Stress, Intonation, 31
and Pitch Jumps
John Murphy
Chapter 2
Segmentals: Phonemes, Allophones, Vowel Sounds, Consonants, and 70
Squeeze Zones
John Murphy
Part 2: Descriptions of Whole Courses 107
Chapter 3
Pronunciation and Communication for Graduate Student Researchers 108
and Conference Presenters
Carolyn Samuel
Chapter 4
Oral Communication for International Graduate Students and 130
Teaching Assistants
Veronica G. Sardegna & Alison McGregor
Chapter 5
A University-Based Online “Pronunciation Tutor” 155
Edna F. Lima & John M. Levis
Chapter 6
Phonology Applied: Developing the Oral Communication Skills of 176
L1 and L2 Speakers
Graeme Couper
Chapter 7
Advanced English Pronunciation for Undergraduate and Graduate 197
Lynn Henrichsen
Chapter 8
Small Group Tutoring in ESL Pronunciation for Pre-Professional 218
Christina Michaud & Marnie Reed
Chapter 9
Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca 239
in England and in Spain
Laura Patsko & Robin Walker
Chapter 10
A Haptic Pronunciation Course for First-Year ESL College Students 262
Nathan Kielstra (with William Acton)
Chapter 11
The Color Vowel Chart: Teaching Pronunciation to Beginning-Level 285
Karen Taylor de Caballero & Claire Schneider
Chapter 12
Teaching Prosody to ESL Middle Schoolers: Pre-Teens and Teens 307
Tamara Jones
Epilogue: Where Do We Go from Here?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Teaching Pronunciation to Adult Beginners

This presentation is based on an article that I wrote for the TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching. Naturally, it's more complete when delivered live with explanations and examples, as well as with sound and motion, so I hope you have a chance to attend one of my live workshops. Here I offer the slides.

 Teaching English Pronunciation to Adult Beginners

Being able to pronounce clearly is a vital part of oral communication, and teachers play a pivotal role in helping learners establish good habits in both pronunciation and listening discrimination from the beginning. Investing in pronunciation instruction early can give beginners the ability and confidence to speak English clearly and launch them on their language learning journey.

Teachers may wonder how to teach pronunciation to beginners, particularly when faced with so many other objectives in the language curriculum, such as grammar, vocabulary, reading, and composition. Teachers may also lack knowledge and confidence because their training programs did not prepare them to teach pronunciation. Even if they took a course in English phonetics or phonology, what they learned may not have a direct application to what should be taught to enable students to pronounce the language well.

In this talk, I discuss focusing on English learners' spoken intelligibility over accent, the need for good pronunciation in helping a speaker become more intelligible to listeners, the devotion to perception as a means of realizing better pronunciation, the importance of balancing segmental and suprasegmental instruction, and the concept that pronunciation is a physical act such that body work deserves attention. I present some sample tasks for teaching pronunciation to beginners with regard to syllables and stress, rhythm and sentence stress, total physical response, and singing.

For the full article, please see the following:
Chan M. (2018) “Tasks for teaching pronunciation to beginners” in The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching, First Edition. Edited by John I. Liontas (Project Editor: Margo DelliCarpini; Volume Editor: MaryAnn Christison and Christel Broady), Hoboken, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.