1- Comprehensibility should be the goal.
Your learners’ speech no doubt differs from that of a native English speaker, but what you notice typically isn’t what needs fixing. If you’ve found yourself teaching the “th” sounds (as in three and these), take a moment to ask yourself: does this sound deserve the time I’m taking to teach it? Research by Tracey Derwing and Murray Munro confirms that not every sound is equally important when it comes to being understood, and indeed, the “th” sounds rank low on the list. What’s high on the list? Read on…
2- Stress is a communication deal breaker.
High up on the ladder to successful spoken communication is, you guessed it, stress. Stress occurs at the word level (mouse, monkey, caterpillar) and at the phrase level ((…you are?, I like it, What do you want?).
Without stress, words and phrases can change meaning (Missouri vs. misery) or lose meaning altogether (what is “kaNAduh”? Oh, it’s CANada!). Most English learners are not sufficiently aware of stress as a communication deal breaker because, frankly, many of their teachers are equally unaware or unsure how to teach it.
3- Learners need rich opportunities to practice speaking with stress.
Teachers do their best to model English pronunciation for their learners, but how much time to learners really get to practice speaking English, and when practicing, how much focused corrective feedback do they receive? You can increase high-quality practice through well-structured speaking activities (such as dialogues and presentations) and with engaging, well-designed games (such as Color Vowel® Duo) that raise learners’ awareness of what matters most in spoken English.
Try it For Yourself
We developed the Color Vowel® Duo card game after years of listening to ESL teachers and learners. Teachers tell us they love the way it creates community among their students and builds confidence up quickly—all while having fun! Playing a game immediately takes the stress out of learning.
Right now, we have a free download of our Color Vowel® Memory Game, built on the same principals as our Duo game. Try it with your students, your family and friends—all for free.
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