What does ‘correct’ mean in pronunciation teaching?

image of Mark and Dirk during the interview
Mark being interviewed by Dirk Lagerwaard for his NovELTies vlog

Being interviewed by Dirk Lagerwaard for his NovELTies vlog : NovELTies EP25: Mark Hancock – Teaching Pronunciation. Among the topics up for discussion is the idea of ‘correctness’ in the context of pronunciation. I suggest that mostly, there’s no such thing as ‘correct’. When people say things like ‘No, it’s not pronounced like that’, they are using a sneaky passive. Not pronounced BY WHO? By what right do these ghostly referees define what is correct and what is not?

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Post-ELF 1: The ELF-Premise

Post ELF series - Article 1. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea
Post ELF series – Article 1. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea

Do you remember the millennium bug? We were all warned that on new year’s day of 2000, our computers would cease to function properly. Didn’t happen. What DID happen around that time however was a quiet but seismic shift in assumptions about the goals of pronunciation teaching.

In the late nineties, people like Brian Jenner were already worrying away at the unchallenged assumption that learners should aim for one of the standard, prestige accents of English such as RP. Jenner (Jenner 1997) pointed out that millions of people were able to make themselves understood in any number of regional or global native accents, so why would we insist on a specific variety? Continue reading “Post-ELF 1: The ELF-Premise”

Putting Vowels on the Map

Putting Vowels On the Map
Putting Vowels On the Map: from article in Modern English Teacher

In this article, I will present and explain a map of the vowel system specifically created to guide the general English language learner. The map is designed with three main aims in mind:

  1. To provide useful insights for the learner.
  2.  To support memorable and effective classroom activities.
  3. To be relevant in an international context by being flexible enough to deal with accent variation.

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Pronunciation SIG Event in Chester

IATEFL PronSIG poster for event in the beautiful city of Chester on February 17th, 2018.

IATEFL PronSIG is holding an event in the beautiful city of Chester on February 17th, 2018. Only 2 hours by train from London, Chester is a place steeped in layers of history, and the event will take place at the city’s University. ‘Pronunciation: the Missing Link’. As the title implies, many of the presentations at this event will be about the link between pronunciation and other areas of language teaching – links which are often neglected.

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PronPacking in Moscow

Presenting in Moscow at the  MISis University conference on EAP, ESP and EMI. I suggested that pron teachers need to keep in mind the three questions what, how and why. (Thanks to Beata Walesiak for the photos)

Symposium: Pronunciation Teaching in a Lingua Franca Context

Moscow, 24th Nov 2017: The globalisation of English has multiple implications for the teaching of the language, especially to those learners whose main use of English will be for international communication, often in the absence of native speakers. Nowhere are these implications more far-reaching than in the teaching of pronunciation. This symposium looks at the goals of pronunciation teaching in this new era, and at learner attitudes to new goals, and at classroom practices suited to achieving the new goals.

TESOL Italy 2017

Mark Hancock at TESOL Italy, Rome, Nov 17th 14:00

“Pronunciation: be a teacher not a preacher”

Pronunciation teaching can be fun, but in a world where English is a lingua franca, we need to take a flexible approach. We can’t simply preach a single ideal target model, instead, we must teach learners to be adaptable, both receptively and productively. In this session, I will demonstrate this.