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The following is taken from a past Teaching Tip.

There is a tendency for teachers to treat pronunciation work as something different so that when phonology work is carried out in class, the whole lesson is taken up with it. This can result in overload, with phonology being seen as a chore for both students & teachers.

Phonology is extremely important, both receptively & productively, & does need attention in class. There are three areas when this can happen; as it crops up, in awareness activities & as an integrated part of the lessons.

To introduce students to the different aspects of phonology, there have to be activities to get these ideas across. Awareness of stress & tone units, particular sounds, word stress, pitch etc.. are needed so that they can then be integrated. Phonology can crop up at any time in the form of correction, students' questions or an unanticipated feature arising.

It is the integration of the different aspects of phonology that we're going to have a quick look at. Here are a few areas where phonology can easily be integrated systematically & smoothly:

  • vocabulary work -. eliciting the number of syllables & the stress placement, stress rules, spelling rules, the highlighting of sound features eg. schwa, consonant clusters.
  • listening - working on different features either directly from the tape or the script. Students identify tone units & tonic syllables, attitude through pitch, understanding tones, sounds in combination; linking, intrusion, weakening etc...
  • presentation - highlighting phonological features in the target language.
  • controlled practice - drilling - highlighting relevant features first & then beating the stress while carrying out a drill. When they sound boring as they carry out a practice activity, tell them so & encourage them to be more enthusiastic.
  • speaking - monitoring of pronunciation during freer activities with feedback afterwards.
  • dictionary work - word stress & sounds being integrated in any activity that requires a dictionary.
  • written records - encourage them to be complete with the phonological analysis included. Go round & check as they copy from the board, making sure they include everything & that it is accurate.
  • include phonology in progress assessments. As you set goals for work on bigger language areas, set goals for areas of phonology.
  • talk about it & encourage student contributions so that it does become another part of the learning process.

I'm sure there are other areas. Integrating phonology does make the area much more friendly & less daunting for all.

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