A Realistic Path Toward Accent Reduction

I’m not a big believer in accent elimination. A successful pronunciation lesson of mine doesn’t guarantee a 100% “native-like accent.” I support progress towards accent reduction. The end goal is clear, natural, confident pronunciation. Reducing one’s foreign accent in English is about targeting a model closely enough so that variations don’t confuse or distract the…

TESOL 2019 Highlights: The Playful Side of Poetry

Did you know it’s National Poetry Month? I feel fortunate that I was among the attendees at one of the last sessions of the TESOL 2019 convention because the topic was…yes, poetry! Quite a number of us decided to attend The Uses of Poetry in the ESL Classroom at 5:00 p.m. on the final day….

Moving with the Times: A Cool Movie Clip-Based App

I’ve been recommending YouGlish as a listening and pronunciation tool for quite some time. It’s wonderful to hear different speech models and consider the various contexts a word or phrase is used in. However, the search results don’t include movies, TV shows, or music videos. What if there were a similar app that did include…

Using LEA to Build a Bridge to Self-Expression

The Language Experience Approach intrigued me the first time I read about it. I’ve always liked the idea of using student-generated content as the basis of language practice. The LEA was developed to build literacy in L1, but ESL teachers have successfully brought it into L2 classrooms. I suggested a spin on the original approach…

TESOL 2018 Highlights: Online Tools for ELLs

Visiting the Electronic Village at the annual TESOL convention is a must for me. Even a single visit can result in the discovery of a few different resources. The title of one presentation this year immediately caught my attention: Three Powerful Online Tools for Skills Development. The presenter, Silvia Laborde of Alianza Cultural Uruguay-Estados Unidos…

Celebrate Women’s History Month

We’re only at the halfway point in March, so with two weeks left to go it’s not too late to observe Women’s History Month if you haven’t already. Discuss an article, assign mini reports, or include any of the unofficial anthems for International Women’s Day. There are plenty of playlists online showcasing “songs empowering women.”…

Going the Distance: Intonation in long sentences

  When I began to create my video series on intonation patterns, I knew it would take more than two lessons. I wanted to go well beyond basic rising and falling intonation. I find that students pick up quite well on these two patterns – at least in short sentences. The confusion grows, however, as…

Pronouncing C and G: Tips and Tricks

One of my private students reminded me that the challenges of English pronunciation go beyond knowing how to say sounds. It’s also important to know when a particular sound is used. In other words, how can one look at a word and know how to say it correctly because some of the letters have more than…

English Activities with an Autumn Theme

  1. Autumn in New York as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong will expose students to a good number of -ing sounds, including gleaming, shimmering, and inviting. (See lyrics.) The use of a hard /g/ in “mingled” is a nice contrast. The song is sung at a slow pace, which makes it even…

7 Poems That Build Proficiency

Every so often I work poetry into my instruction. Since poems are meant to be read aloud, they lend themselves to listening and pronunciation practice. They can help students grow accustomed to reduced sounds in the flow of speech, and they can help students improve linking and rhythm. Although we don’t speak like poets in everyday…

Teaching Intonation: Rising to the Challenge

Like many of you, I’ve begun to give some thought to 2017. I’d like to continue my practice of starting each new year with a special video challenge on YouTube. A 20-day Fast Speech Challenge marked the start of 2016. I kicked off 2015 with a similar 20-day Phrasal Verb Challenge. Presently, I’m toying with the idea of…