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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 28th, 2007, 10:21 pm
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Default Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Hi folks,

I've just started teaching English for tourism classes at a university in China. I've got 7 years of experience teaching English, but I've only been teaching at this school for a few weeks. Before now, I'd never taught such large classes (50 or so students).

One of the things that I'd like to work on with my students is pronunciation. So far, I've come up with a few things - s / z, the two THs, the sound in pleasure vs. SH, r, and sentence level intonation. In the past, when I was teaching in Taiwan, I gave the students one on one attention when working on this type of thing. But my classes were small, only 8 or 10 students. Here, though, with 1:30 per week and 50 students, there's no way I can do that.

I'm wondering if you folks have any ideas about how to best teach and check pronunciation in large classes. Obviously, I can have them parrot stuff, but I won't be able to hear individual students. Plus, I'm not sure how effective that is. I think it works for sentence level intonation, but for smaller things I don't know if they'll really get it.

Anyways, any suggestions would be appreciated.

Take care,
Dave
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Unread Mar 30th, 2007, 09:54 pm
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Hi Dave,

Teaching large classes always presents all sorts of problems. I've never had to work pronunciation into such a large class, except for the usual difficult phrase or word, which we repeat periodically through the lesson. So I'm not sure how helpful my advice will be.

But I always advocate listening exercises as take-home work, as this helps students develop an ear for trouble sounds. Usually, if the students can hear the correct sound, they're halfway there to producing it correctly (albeit, with a lot more work on their part). I've found that even if you teach how to produce the sound--where to place the tongue, how to form the lips, etc--they still need more practice and monitoring than can be done in a single lesson, let alone one with 90 students or more. What's more, they still can't necessarily *hear* the word from a native speaker, and they simply guess.

The homework should have a list of vocabulary words, with a pause after each one for the students to listen and repeat. It should also have the vocabulary words in context, so they can hear everything put together. Again, listen and repeat again and again and again is very important. Maybe you can set something up on your website for your students, assuming that they all have computers? You could also direct them to websites with extensive listening files, and then have them listen for particular words.

By the way, I like what you've put up on your site. How long have you been working on it?
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Unread Apr 1st, 2007, 02:22 am
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Chris,

Thanks a lot for the ideas. I like the idea of listening at home. Unfortunately, most of my students don't have internet access or their own computers. Putting a bunch of minimal pairs / vocab words / sample sentences on my website might be worth doing, though. This week, I'll ask my students if they would be able to use it.

As far as the website, I made it as a project in gradschool, but it was quite mediocre. Over the last three weeks, though, I've redone it and am planning to add a lot more.

Thanks again!
Dave
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Unread Apr 1st, 2007, 11:30 am
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Hi Dave, I'll second that about your website too. I listen to the first podcast. Very interesting to hear about your teaching experience in China.
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Unread Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:19 am
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Dave - which part of Hunan are you in? I taught in Yueyang 19 years ago.
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Unread Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:26 pm
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Try group drilling and walk around the students to try and listen to each individual. Also single students out (obviously you can't get them all to do it individually).
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Unread Apr 3rd, 2007, 11:56 pm
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

I actually tried a game. It goes a little slow but it does help to make sure that everyone gets a chance.

I have students go up to the board and do a race. It's to teach them writing and pronunciation. I have one person stand up at the front and call out some words. The two at the board race and write the word. If the student miscalls I jump in and correct. This makes the students hear and the students write and the students speak.

We the all switch rolls. Eventually the students start jumping in to correct to.
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Unread Apr 6th, 2007, 02:03 am
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

Thanks for the ideas. I'll try them out and see what works.

And stanley - I'm in Zhang Jia Jie.
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Unread Jul 25th, 2017, 10:01 am
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Default Re: Teaching pronunciation to big groups

This minimal pairs games is fantastic for helping students recognise and focus on the difference between similar vowel and consonant sounds. It's aimed at adults but would be easy enough to convert to something more suitable for young learners.
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