Free ESL Resources: Teaching and Learning English Pronunciation
Pronunciation can be one of the most difficult areas to mast in any foreign language. Have a go at reading the following poetic verse out loud:
“I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?”
(Attributed to George Bernard Shaw)
Not so easy, was it? English pronunciation is, in part, so tricky because English spelling is not phonetic. In a phonetic alphabet, each letter will only represent one sound, and each sound will only be represented by one letter. In English, this is certainly not the case! Other teachers are always asking me for good resources to teach pronunciation, so here’s a list of websites along with their descriptions. Many of these sites are good for both language teachers and language learners.
Sounds of English is primarily a site for English teachers. It includes some great links, handouts from presentations, pronunciation pages including sound and video files, activities and exercises for pronunciation and listening, teacher tips, and printable worksheets with answer keys. It’s one of the best sites for English language educators.
This site gives great visuals of sounds in English and some practice exercises. Good for teachers or students who want to make sure they’re pronouncing a sound correctly, or for teachers who want practice exercises for class. The best part is the large, detailed pictures of the position of the mouth and tongue for each sound.
A collection of pronunciation lesson plans. Easy to read, use and print PDFs can be found here. There are many exercises for teaching stress and speech sounds, but most are for British English. You can find lists of minimal pairs for both consonants and vowels at this site. There’s also a link to an article on the 100 most commonly mispronounced words.
About.com has a collection of pronunciation lesson plans for experienced teachers. The ones on stress-timing are particularly good. These lesson plans assume that the teacher already knows the content material, so if you don’t know the subject matter these plans won’t help you very much.
This informative site gives information and examples of the pronunciation of the 6 sounds that are most difficult for non-native speakers to master. The best part about this site is that you can click on any IPA symbol in the vowel chart and hear the sound pronounced.
This site lists many exercises for practicing minimal pairs, words that have only one sound different between them. It’s another great resource for teachers or learners.
English is Soup is a resource for adult ESL learners. It’s put together by Kent University, and it includes PDFs for mastering vowels, consonants, consonant blends, and vowels combined with the ‘r’ sound.
Feature photo: Muffet
ESL Teacher Connection
Do you know of any other websites for teaching and learning English pronunciation? Share them in the comments section!