miércoles, 16 de octubre de 2013


Fall for most teachers is extremely busy, and I suppose that my classes have been no exception. However, I have recently been pondering pronunciation and the teaching of pronunciation. I have recently been talking to several teachers who do pronunciation drills and activities, which is very different from the approach that I take. I am not certain which method is best, but I would love to hear what others think!

For older beginner students, I actively teach them the correct vowel sounds, r, ñ, and some of the other basic pronunciation rules such as soft c's and g's when followed by i and e in Spanish. For K-5 students, this active teaching is not really necessary, as these students tend to be very quick at mimicking the correct pronunciation.

In my classes, I usually have students speak the first ten minutes or so of class. During this time, which is relatively informal, I do not ask students to correct their pronunciation of a word; however, I will recast (repeat the word with the correct pronunciation) the word for the student. Some students will notice the recast and work on pronunciation on their own, but other students seem to prefer to either ignore the correct pronunciation or actively don't want to use the correct pronunciation for fear of being seen as "trying to hard." I do not force the student to repeat the word correctly, but a few of my colleagues do take this approach. What do you think? Should a student be forced to try the word again? I do not want to embarrass the student, especially if he or she cannot say the word on the second try so I do not force students to try it (although many will on their own). I should note that the above activity is an informal assessment of the students and they are not graded so to speak, except for participation.

For oral presentations, I generally give beginning students one or two pronunciation topics in the rubric. For example, the rubric might state that the student correctly pronounces the vowel A and the letter R. The students are also told that they should actively practice and look in a mirror. For upper level students, I expect them to pronounce the majority of the words correctly. So their grading rubric is a bit different. Once again though, I do not correct students or interrupt them at all during graded oral presentations. I do not call any attention to pronunciation during the actual presentation at all. Again, I do not wish to embarrass my students. At the end of all of the presentations, I might choose one or two words that appeared in many of the presentations and was consistently incorrect that I pronounce and ask the class to practice as a whole. Do you interrupt students' presentations to correct pronunciation? What are the benefits?

Two fun things that I do to practice pronunciation without the students really knowing that we are practicing is tongue twisters and reading Dr. Seuss. I will start the class with a tongue twister on the board and give students time to practice saying it. Then, I will ask for volunteers to say it aloud for the class. Finally, we will have a little competition (volunteer participation only) to see who can say the tongue twister the fastest. Most of my freshmen love this activity, and even if they do not choose to participate in the competition they are benefitting from hearing the words pronounced correctly.

I also like to have my upper level students read Dr. Seuss books. While I fully acknowledge that these books aren't truly authentic because they have been translated, I think the benefit of trying to pronounce the rhymes and maintain a nice reading rhythm is sufficient. My students definitely benefit from trying to read aloud and maintain a decent cadence and pace. Furthermore the students love these books! So for a warm-up activity, my upper level students will each take a turn reading a page or two and then passing the book to the next person in the circle. It is a great Friday morning activity.

How do you teach and grade pronunciation?