Monday, August 1, 2016

Pronunciation Doctor responds to questions from CCSF about the teaching of pronunciation

Ana Wu, an ESL instructor at the Community College of San Francisco, invited other CCSF colleagues to pose questions to me about the teaching of pronunciation.

A Conversation with a Multilingual presents 
Q & A with Marsha Chan

To access the 7,000-word interview in its entirety, click here: 

To view each question (or group of questions) and my response one by one, click on the links to Questions 1-4 below.

A) How do you measure improvement in pronunciation? What techniques do you use to measure improvement?
B) Do you have favorite resources (books or websites) that provide targeted practice for specific native languages (e.g. difference exercises for Cantonese speakers and Spanish speakers instead of all doing the same exercises together).
Robert Griffiths, CCSF Downtown

Most of my students are from southern China, and they cannot pronounce an “l” sound at the beginning of a word or distinguish the sound from an initial “r” sound. How do you go about teaching this? Thanks in advance!
–Roland Trego, CCSF Downtown

What’s the best way to teach students the difference between “walk” and “work”?  I draw diagrams of the mouth and tongue, but it’s still very difficult. Is there better way?
– Ann Overton, CCSF John Adams

Sometimes it is very difficult for students to hear the differences between slight vowel variations. For example, some students cannot distinguish the /ey/ and /ɛ/ sound as in “name” and “pen,” or the /iy/ and /ɪ/ sound as in “leave” and “live.” I feel that students are frustrated as they can’t hear the difference when I say the words and also produce the difference when they say these words.
In your opinion, what is more important: That they can hear and recognize the correct pronunciation or that they can produce the correct pronunciation?
Dianne Wallis, CCSF Civic Center

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