In today’s post and video, we are reviewing a new book, Mark Hancock’s “50 Tips for Teaching Pronunciation”. For those that are unsure, Mark Hancock has published “Pronunciation Games” as well as authored “Pronunciation in Use”.

The teaching of pronunciation can be a rather difficult skill to develop, as it was for me, for many newly certified English language teachers. However, the benefit of developing the confidence to teach pronunciation can aid your students in becoming more intelligible and confident when speaking. 

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There have been many books published for English teachers to help them teach pronunciation by a range of publishers, but “50 Tips for Teaching Pronunciation” is the latest publication by Cambridge University Press, and is a welcomed addition to the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers.

As the title suggests, there are 50 practical tips that readers can consider incorporating into their English language classroom. When looking at the Contents page, one can notice that the book is split into three parts: Part A “Goals and models”, Part B “What to teach”, and Part C “How to teach it”.

Part A – Goals and models

Part A is a clear and simple introduction for the reader into the teachings of pronunciation. Within this section of this book, there are 13 tips included and Mark provides some insight into the issues of accents as well as English as a Lingua Franca. 

What I like about this section of the book is the fact that Mark offers some suggestions for teachers to consider possible role-models for learners to achieve intelligibility with their English rather than learners attempting to sound much like a native. Towards the end of the first section of the book, the reader is given some tips for accents, with some thoughts given towards English learners acquiring the same accent as their teacher as well as Received Pronunciation (also known as RP).

Part B – What to Teach

The second section of this book, Part B, looks at what English teachers could teach in pronunciation classes. Some thought is also given towards whether to use phonemic symbols in the language classroom as well as connected speech and intonation. For those teachers who are unfamiliar with the phonemic chart, this section of the book should help.

Half-way through the book, the reader is recommended to introduce students how the phonemic chart is organised. Adrian Underhill’s phonemic chart is included within the Appendix as well as Mark’s vowel chart which allows some comparison for the reader between British and American vowels. Further into this section of the book, there is some advice given towards word stress and connected speech. 

Part C – How to teach it

Minimal pairs can be a useful activity to raise student awareness

In the final section of the book, the reader is offered 18 tips on techniques and methods that can be used in the classroom, such as presenting pronunciation, feedback and assessment, as well as resources.

In the first few tips suggested in this section, the reader is guided through on teacher feedback with learner pronunciation and developing learner awareness of specialist vocabulary related to pronunciation. Further into the book, there are some considerations about the use of drilling in the classroom, with Mark offering his invaluable insight.

Elsewhere in this section of the book, there are some recommended activities and games to incorporate when teaching pronunciation, and how students should approach misunderstandings which is usually related to pronunciation. The final tip suggested in this section suggests to the reader that learners develop their own autonomy in relation to phonology and provides eight tips to develop learner awareness.

After the appendix in the book, there is a glossary of terms all associated with pronunciation. So, if you are unsure about a ‘fricative’ or the ‘nasals’, then this glossary will help you learn a bit more about these terms.

Overall Opinion

Despite it being quite a short handbook, it is packed with some insightful issues in relation to the teaching of pronunciation. It is best suited for either confident or novice teachers of English and will help guide you through some aspects of pronunciation. However, if you are seeking materials for the teaching of pronunciation, then there are a variety of other publications available which I would recommend. These could include Pronunciation Games, The Book of Pronunciation as well as Pronunciation in Use.

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Thanks and see you soon. Happy teaching!