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

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.

American Clear Speech Sounds

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.

ESL Flow

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. 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.

American Accent Training

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.

Many Things: American English Pronunciation Practice

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!

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!

8 Comments on “Free ESL Resources: Teaching and Learning English Pronunciation

  1. I must say, too, that English sounds even frustrate the native speakers as they are learning to read! I taught mixes of ESL students and native speakers in my elementary classroom, and I often found that ESL resources were helpful to me as a teacher than so many other things out there. Thanks for posting this list! I’ll visit these sites!

    • Thanks for stopping by Janet! You make a great point that these resources are good for English (as a subject) classes as well, especially if you have mixed groups of native and non-native speakers. Many of the sites I listed are more technical and are aimed at ESL educators and advanced learners, so please feel free to add any of your favorite elementary English pronunciation resources in the comments for other readers to check out!

  2. These are great resources. I’m actually in grad school now to become a teacher and I know I will be working with ESL students. It’s good to know that there are plenty of resources out there to visit that will help in this area.

    Also, I like that passage from Shaw. It just shows how difficult English can be.

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