Video – Teaching Pronunciation: muscle, mind, meaning, memory

Mark Hancock teaching with PronPack 1-4
Film stills of Mark Hancock teaching a pronunciation lesson.

Take a look at a video of an English pronunciation lesson, with me using materials and techniques from  PronPack 1-4.  I explain that there are four kinds of activities, which may be summed up as muscle, mind, meaning and memory.
First, I demonstrate an activity to show students how the muscles around the mouth work to produce a pair of target vowel sounds. Then we see an activity to raise awareness in the students’ minds of how those sounds correlate to spelling. After that, we an activity to demonstrate to the students how this feature of pronunciation impacts on meaning. Finally, we see an activity designed to leave a strong trace of this pronunciation feature in the students’ memory.

PronPack review in IATEFL Voices

There’s a great review of PronPack in the July-August edition of IATEFL Voices, by Tony Rusinak in Canada. Here are a few excerpts…

“Mark Hancock’s PronPack, a set of four pronunciation resource books, can be described as clever, original and well-organised.”
“After trialling PronPack, some co-teachers and I found the tasks both practical and entertaining.”
“A key feature of the series is the graphic design.  … high-gloss inventive infographics, thoughtfully-sized font, sufficient white space and clear, concise instructions…”
“The smart layout of the books re-affirms Hancock’s knowledge of busy teachers’ requirements when trying to integrate pronunciation into a demanding lesson plan.”
“In the introduction, Hancock claims that ‘the aim is successful communication, not correctness’, a point cleverly woven into the activities.”

Post-ELF 5: Beyond Dogma and Denial

When the implications of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) first hit the consciousness of the ELT community at the beginning of this century, reactions tended to polarize between dogma and denial. On the dogma side were militants who saw native pronunciation models such as received pronunciation (RP) as a residue of colonialism which needed to be uprooted. From the denial point of view, these militants were a noisy distraction who would hopefully tire themselves out and go away. These are caricatures admittedly, but let’s run with them a little… Continue reading “Post-ELF 5: Beyond Dogma and Denial”

PronPack Wins ELTons Award!

PronPack has won the 2018 ELTons Award for ‘Excellence in Teacher Resources’. A judge’s quote says, ‘These books will soon become a must have resource on teacher staff room shelves’. Let it be!

(Thanks to David Lake for the photo)

Post-ELF 4: Essential versus Superficial

Post ELF series – Article 4. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea
Post ELF series – Article 4. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea

In my previous post, I promised to investigate possible implications a post-ELF perspective for pronunciation teaching, and in this post we will consider the question of what features of phonology we should focus on.

Let me begin with an analogy. If you think of a car, you can probably divide its features into essential and superficial. For example, wheels and a motor are essential (currently, at least). The colour doesn’t matter and is superficial, and the exact body shape probably doesn’t matter much either. There are even features which are accidental such as scratches and dents in the body work.

Continue reading “Post-ELF 4: Essential versus Superficial”

Post-ELF 3: A Hierarchy of Pronunciation Skills

Post ELF series – Article 3. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea
Post ELF series – Article 3. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea

In my last post, article 2 in this series, I suggested that pronunciation teaching post-ELF must distinguish productive and receptive competences, and these will be asymmetrical.

In an English-as-a-lingua-franca speech community, we will pronounce locally and understand globally. The accent or range of accents we can produce will be much smaller than the range of accents we are capable of understanding. Continue reading “Post-ELF 3: A Hierarchy of Pronunciation Skills”

Post-ELF 2: Accent Snobbery

Post ELF series - Article 2. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea
Post ELF series – Article 2. The emerging rainbow beam is the post-ELF idea

In my first post, article 1 in this series , I suggested that we must take account of the ELF premise – namely, that English is now used as a global lingua franca – when we are thinking about the goals of pronunciation teaching. One broad implication of this premise is suggested by the prism and light metaphor in the image above. The prism represents the ELF premise. In a pre-ELF scenario, our model of pronunciation is like the white beam of light before it enters the prism. It is a single, monolithic model – perhaps RP or General American. The vision is that everybody would learn to speak that way and everybody would come to understand English spoken that way. There was a symmetry therefore between productive and receptive pronunciation. Continue reading “Post-ELF 2: Accent Snobbery”

PronPack at IATEFL Brighton!

PronPack had an exhibition space at IATEFL 2018 in Brighton, sharing with others in the Independent Writers & Publishers Group. (Many thanks to Rob Howard for his hard work organizing this).

Mark with the first PronPack customer of the day Higor and pre-production book reviewer Oksana
Left, Mark with Higor Cavalcante, right with Oksana Hera at IATEFL Brighton

Here’s Mark with Higor Cavalcante, first customer of the day, who is taking a set of the books back to Brazil. On the right is Oksana Hera from Ukraine, who we owe thanks to for being one of the reviewers of the PronPack manuscript. Continue reading “PronPack at IATEFL Brighton!”

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?

Continue reading “What does ‘correct’ mean in pronunciation teaching?”

PronPack Shortlisted for ELTons!

PronPack 1-4 Shortlisted for ELTons 2018!
PronPack 1-4 Shortlisted for ELTons 2018!

Proud and delighted to announce: PronPack 1-4 is a finalist of the 16th British Council ELTons Awards for Innovation in English Language Teaching 2018 in Innovation in Teacher Resources. This publication has been selected as a finalist by a panel of experts from among 110 international products, publications and services as meeting the stringent criteria for innovation and practical application. Read about the other shortlisted books in the Innovation in Teacher Resources category . Continue reading “PronPack Shortlisted for ELTons!”