What Are The Tips For Teaching Pronunciation?

Looking to improve your pronunciation skills? Whether you're a beginner or an advanced student, there are a few things you can do to make the learning process easier and more effective. We'll outline four tips to help you get started in this post. So, if you're ready to improve your pronunciation, keep reading!


Tips For Teaching Pronunciation

Teach Listening First

Students can't produce the right sounds for English words when they cannot hear and distinguish those sounds from one another first. So to teach pronunciation well means starting with teaching listening and making sure your students can distinguish the sounds they will soon be producing themselves.

Teach The Phonetic Alphabet

I believe that every ESL student should know the phonetic alphabet. Rather than depending on spelling, it transcribes the exact sounds in English words. Students who know the phonetic alphabet and whose teachers use it get additional input when learning the correct pronunciation. They not only hear the correct pronunciation, but they see it, too. Phonetic transcriptions show students, even those struggling to hear the correct pronunciation, exactly how an English word is supposed to sound.

Teach Minimal Pairs

Minimal pairs are words that differ in only one sound. When you teach English words in groups that point out differences and similarities, your students will hear the differences and then produce the differences that distinguish words from one another.

Know Cultural Pronunciation Patterns

Speakers of the same native language often have mispronunciation patterns that are recognisable and predictable. For example, Spanish speakers often struggle with the difference between the long and short I sound like those in city and seedy. Likewise, speakers of Japanese will often struggle to hear and produce the difference between /l/ and /r/. If you know the common pronunciations your students are likely to struggle with, you can better prepare and instruct them on incorrect English pronunciation.

Let Your Students Look At Your Mouth

I know this may be uncomfortable for you, especially if you have never done it before, but it is important. It is because speakers of different languages hold and move the mouth's muscles differently. For correct pronunciation, students will have to hold their mouths properly. Additionally, some students will not produce a sound simply because they can hear and identify it. They will need the visual input from looking closely at you while producing certain sounds. Once you have let your students look at your mouth as you pronounce certain words and sounds, have them look at their mouths. You can do this with mirrors or the reverse camera on most smartphones. If students can see how your muscles move as you pronounce English sounds and words, they can see if they are moving their muscles in the same manner and hear if they are producing the same sound.

Group Students By Native Language And Against Native Language

Grouping students with the same native language can be very helpful for correcting some of those predictable pronunciation struggles, so you should try it if you teach a class of internationals. They will often be able to help each other achieve more accurate pronunciation. It is also helpful to group students with speakers of different native languages. When students have to understand themselves by someone unfamiliar with their accent, they will have to achieve more standard pronunciation to get their meaning across. So make sure when you group your students that you switch things up and sometimes group by native language and sometimes against it.

Let Them Mock You (And Others)

Well, mock may not be the right word, but mimic is. Have your students listen to what you say and repeat it like a good younger brother loves to do to older siblings. Don't stop with your speech, though. Have students copy the speech of newscasters, actors, and English speakers who are not teachers. They will ingrain correct pronunciation and intonation into their own spoken English when they do.

Combat Anxiety With Games

Games make everything more fun, don't they? And you will want to make pronunciation instruction as fun for your students as possible. They will need it since working on correct pronunciation is stressful and can cause anxiety in even the best students. So make sure you have some great pronunciation games you can play as you work with your students. Busy Teacher has many ideas to share if you are stuck on ideas.

Record And Rerecord Your Students

It may come slower than they would like, but your students will make progress in their pronunciation of English. You can give them clear cut evidence of their progress if you take the time to record them reading the same English passage at the beginning of your school year, in the middle, and again at the end. When you record your students' pronunciation, you can play the tapes one after another to show their progress. It is important for increasing your students' confidence and bolstering their self-esteem. If your students are like most language learners, they will need encouragement and boosts to keep going when they are making no progress. Your recordings can do just that. In addition, it gives you material on which to base their grade when it comes to their final evaluations on pronunciation.

Don't Get Hung Up On An Accent.

Teaching good pronunciation skills in English is not the same as eradicating a first language influenced accent. ESL teachers walk a fine line when addressing pronunciation issues of English. Ultimately, the goal is for your students to speak to be understood by native English speakers. For some students, they will be able to communicate even if they retain part of their native accent, and your students may want it there. However, when the accent becomes too strong, it becomes a barrier to communication. So focus more on communication rather than perfect pronunciation, and you and your students will both be happy.

Listen To Yourself

It's often difficult to hear pronunciation errors in your speech because you concentrate on actually communicating rather than the sound you are making. If you can't hear your pronunciation problems, it's tough to correct them. Instead, try recording your speech with your smartphone or PC and making a note of specific areas you need to improve on.

Slow Down!

Many English learners think that speaking means, they need to speak fast. It doesn't seem right. Speaking too fast reinforces bad habits and makes the speaker nervous and indecisive. Speaking will give you time to breathe properly and think about what you want to say next. Because it gives you time to think while you are speaking, you'll feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate on making your English sound fantastic.

Picture It…

Please close your eyes and think about making a sound before saying it. Then, visualise the positioning of your mouth and face. If you have studied with the phonemic chart, think about your sound and its relation to other English phonemes. If you have used diagrams of the mouth and tongue, think about the shape you need to make inside your mouth to make the sound correctly.

Get Physical!

Pronunciation is a physical skill. You're teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. Focus on difficult sounds each day. Having trouble with 'th'? Put your tongue between your teeth (don't bite down) and blow air out of your mouth. Feel the air move over the top of your tongue.

Watch Yourself

Stand in front of a mirror to see the placement of your tongue, lips, and shape of your mouth when you make certain sounds. Then, compare what you see with a video of a native speaker saying the same thing.

Copy The Experts

There's no replacement for learning pronunciation from the experts – native speakers. So listen! Listen to English radio programs and watch television and movies in English. Imitate what you're hearing – even if you're not sure what they're saying yet.

Practice English Alone

Pronunciation problems persist because we're afraid to make mistakes. Create scenarios – meeting someone for the first time, ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions, and then acting out the dialogue yourself. Don't be shy.

Find A Language Buddy.

Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial. Find a friend who's also interested in improving their English. Try exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other's pronunciation.

Pay Attention To Intonation And Stress.

Good pronunciation is more than just mastering individual sounds. It also understands intonation (the rise and fall of the voice) and stress (some sounds in words and some words in sentences are louder or clearer than others). Read poems, speeches and songs aloud, concentrating on the word stress and intonation.

Sing A Song!

Learn the words to popular English songs and sing along. Singing helps you relax and get those words out and helps your rhythm and intonation. In addition, because you don't need to concentrate on constructing sentences for yourself, you can concentrate on making your pronunciation sound great!

Know Your Objective. 

Pronunciation is about being understood by people all over the globe. It's not about pretending to be American or British. You don't need to teach every small detail of the way they speak in the US or UK – very few learners will ever learn that, and there is no reason to anyway. English is a world language now – it doesn't belong to any particular country.

I'm Ok! Say That To Yourself. 

Teachers sometimes feel they aren't a good pronunciation model because they aren't 'native speakers'. That's not true. If you are an intelligible speaker of English, you are a perfect model. When we think of English as a lingua franca, the term' native speaker' no longer makes sense - we are all native speakers of it!

If It Isn't Broken, You Don't Need To Fix It.

There are many features of local accents in English that are fine. Take, for example, the famous TH problem, pronouncing 'think' like 'fink'. It is not so bad - lots of people say it like that around the world – Londoners for example - and it doesn't make them unintelligible. I would tell learners about these things and leave the choice up to them.

Pronunciation Is Not About Correctness, And It's About Being Effective. 

If your learner pronounces the word 'very' the same as 'belly', it's not an error; it simply doesn't work. The listener won't understand. When you give feedback to your learners, keep this in mind. Discuss the problem in terms of intelligibility rather than correct or incorrect.

Pronunciation Is Physical. 

You and your learners will need to know the vocal apparatus and how it works. That includes the lips, jaw, tongue, the inside of the mouth and the voice box. We can all speak our first language without being aware of these things, but we need to become aware of changing the way we speak. We need to play with sounds and explore the possibilities.

Spelling Is A Difficult Friend. 

Many of the problems learners have with English pronunciation are caused by its crazy spelling. However, some patterns can help. For example, write these words on the board and ask students to pronounce them: rat; pet; sit; not; cut. Then add an 'e' to the end of each one (making rate; Pete; site; note; cute) and ask them to pronounce them again. Finally, point out how the final 'e' makes the previous vowel say its name (i.e., pronounced in the alphabet).

Pronunciation Makes Sense. 

You can demonstrate this to learners by showing examples where a small change in pronunciation can change the meaning completely. For example, this pair of sentences: a. I got a good price for it. b. I got a good price for it. You can make examples like this into a game, where one learner says one of the sentences and the other has to identify which one. The pronunciation worked if they both agreed on which sentence was said. If not, they'll need to try again!

Pronunciation Is For Listening Too. 

There are some features of pronunciation that learners don't need to copy, but they will need to understand. For example, you don't have to say 'wanna' for 'want to', but you should understand it if you hear it.

Symbols Aren't Sounds. 

Teachers often think that the phonemic symbols represent exact sounds, and they get stressed because their pronunciation is different from the book. It is a mistake. The symbols represent a range of sounds. For example, the symbol /e/ represents the vowel sound in 'leg', whatever your accent.


Teaching pronunciation can be interesting, playful, and a real joy. You can use games, puzzles, rhymes and raps, drama and paperwork. It can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be frightening. On the contrary, you may find that pronunciation becomes the part of your lessons that the learners look forward to most!

Use The Ipa Phonetic Alphabet.

Teaching your students how to read and pronounce phonetic symbols will give them a great advantage in improving their pronunciation. Encouraging them to check the phonetic pronunciation of new words will give your students the ability to learn how to pronounce words correctly without the help of a teacher or English speaker. The

Read Lips, Listen And Imitate

Watching English speakers' mouths and lips to check the correct position when pronouncing certain words and copying what they do can help students' pronunciation. Also, check out the website forvo.com to hear English speakers from different English-speaking countries & regions saying words and expressions naturally. It is very useful if your students plan to move to a particular location and become familiar with the local accent and dialect.

Check Tongue Position

Pronunciation errors will often be due to incorrect tongue positions. Tell your students to know their tongue position when improving their pronunciation. Use a Sound Articulation Diagram to demonstrate correct tongue placement. Please encourage your students to ask their teachers or other English speakers to describe how their tongue moves when they pronounce particular words.

Listen And Repeat

Students often find the shadowing technique or repeating after an English speaker quite useful for improving pronunciation. Students could do this with small chunks of language and record themselves to listen back and compare with the original. Again, students should identify which words/phrases they're pronouncing incorrectly. It would be beneficial also to read the text while listening to a reader so that audiobooks would be perfect for this activity.



Learning how to pronounce a new word is one of the most difficult tasks for any language learner. It's often hard enough just figuring out what letter each sound corresponds to, but it can be even more challenging when you have an unfamiliar accent or dialect. The tips will show you some tried and true methods that work well for teaching pronunciation in English as a second language class. You may want to try these techniques if your students have difficulty with pronunciation because they don't know where the sounds come from on their tongue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pronunciation includes features of language (vocabulary and grammar) and skills (speaking and listening). Like vocabulary and grammar, we pronounce by noticing and understanding rules and patterns beneath the surface of speech.

Phonics teaches people to read and write an alphabetic language (such as English, Arabic or Russian). It is done by demonstrating the relationship between the sounds of the spoken language (phonemes) and the letters or groups of letters (graphemes) or syllables of the written language.

If you have one consonant between two vowels, you usually pronounce the first vowel as a long vowel. However, if you put a vowel before a double consonant, two hard consonant sounds, or a consonant that sounds like two consonants (such as x), you'll pronounce it as a short vowel.

Anything that changes the shape of the vocal cords or the way they work will cause a voice disturbance. Lump-like growths such as nodules, polyps, cysts, papillomas, granulomas, and cancers can be blamed. These changes cause the voice to sound different from how it normally sounds.

Help students improve their pronunciation by focusing on short sentences using standard word stress patterns. Introduce Stress and Intonation - One of the best ways to help students is to focus their attention on the music of English through stress and intonation.

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