Here are four reasons to teach pronunciation. They are powerful because they cover all language activity; the physicality of pronunciation; the psychological impact of pronunciation
1.. Pronunciation applies to all four skills. Pronunciation is not just part of speaking aloud. Pronunciation is active whenever the inner voice is active, when rehearsing a phrase internally, when writing, and even when thinking. And remembering a phone number. Pronunciation is active even when reading silently. In fact pronunciation is active during all 4 skills as well as during thinking and remembering.
2.. Pronunciation improves listening. The mouth teaches the ear. Learning pronunciation ‘in the mouth’ improves discrimination ‘in the ear’. Pronunciation is in the ear as well as the mouth. According to the behavourist view of language learning the ear teaches the mouth, so that listening comes before speaking. But the mouth also teaches the ear. You know this from when you have learned to make a new pronunciation and suddenly you find you can hear it clearly. Or when you have learnt to say a rapid colloquial expression such as wassatime (what’s the time) or owjado (how d’you do) or angonamini (hang on a minute) and find you can suddenly hear it clearly. What the mouth can say becomes accessible to the ear to hear.
3.. Pronunciation is the physical aspect of language. It is the result of muscular coordination, and is not so different from learning dance, or other physical learning. Grammar, vocabulary and meaning are often taught cognitively, but pronunciation is physical. Use the natural muscular memory of the body to provide memory hooks for words and phrases. And to provide the experience of living the language and bringing it to life.
4.. Pronunciation affects self esteem. The impact of feeling a more competent speaker AND a more competent listener gives a sense of capability, a taste of potential mastery. All learners are capable of modifying their pronunciation in order to be better understood, to better understand, and perhaps to better enjoy the new language. Learners often have a good sense of areas of L2 pronunciation they are avoiding. When they find that even the teacher does not know how to help them they may feel it is an impossible task….
And the fifth reason – out of the four reasons to teach pronunciation – is that there is a different and new approach to teaching pronunciation, and that is what this website is about.