Recognizing sounds is an important step toward achieving more accurate pronunciation. My pronunciation lessons often have a good balance between listening and speaking. If students can’t hear sounds accurately, how can we expect them to produce the sounds successfully?
Words are combinations of sounds, and the most logical way to divide those sounds is by syllable. The importance of counting syllables shouldn’t be underestimated. Students need to develop the ability to identify syllables and then properly stress the right one(s). Some students grew up speaking a syllable-time language, so they need practice with word stress.
Stressing a syllable is all about saying the vowel sound clearly and for the right length of time. Practice with minimal pairs is useful when students are building accuracy with vowel sounds. If you’d like a fun activity with minimal pairs, check out a post from 2008: Making Pronunciation Exercises Meaningful: An Activity for Minimal Pairs.
Other sounds that can be difficult to recognize at first are the flap T and glottal stop. Some students can reproduce these sounds more quickly than others. For those who struggle with these variations of the North American /t/, I reassure them that it’s more important to recognize the sounds than produce them. Use of a true /t/ in words like water and important may not sound completely natural, but it will still allow clear communication.
If you’d like to test your learners’ ability to hear syllables, word stress, the flap T, and the glottal stop, please consider using my Listening and Pronunciation Quiz.
Featured photo by stux. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/photos/grass-nature-field-spring-meadow-3249879/.