1. First, you have to provide a clear (don’t be chewing a mouthful of food while modeling pronunciation), audible (don’t shout at your students, but you want the students in the back of the room to hear you) and visible (they have to see how to shape their mouths to pronounce the word or sound) model for your students to repeat. Your own English pronunciation is the model students will imitate!

2. Once you’ve modeled the pronunciation, have the students repeat after you, together as one group (This is called choral repetition). Then model the word again, and get students to repeat again; continue this for a minimum of five repetitions. And as the students are repeating, listen and observe! Look at your students to make sure their mouths are in the required shape, the jaw opened wide enough, and their tongue is in the correct position.

3. When the students are pronouncing the word fairly well, model the word again, and ask individual students to repeat the word. Be sure to randomly select students, so that they are all paying attention and ready to respond when called upon. An open-hand gesture toward the targeted student could be used to indicate who should respond. Remember to praise their responses!

4. At this stage, students are only working with the word through their listening and speaking skills; this is to make sure they establish the correct pronunciation. Their pronunciation should be close to the provided model, consistently pronounced, and comprehensible. As a TESOL teacher, we must ensure our students are hitting the target as close as possible.

5. Once all of your students have had a chance to say the word individually, show the word in print. You can show the word either on the whiteboard, or on a flashcard. Ask students to say the word several times while they look at the word; this will help them understand the sound-symbol relationship (which letters represent which sounds).

6. Elicit from students how many syllables are in the word (remember, the number of vowel sounds you hear indicate how many syllables are in a word); if necessary, get them to say the word again. You can mark the syllable breaks in the word with a dot or a slash mark:

ed=u= ca =tion or ed/u/ca/tion

7. Get the students to say the word again, and then elicit the stressed syllable. This can be indicated on the board with a dot or by underlining the stressed syllable:

education or education

8. At this point, you can also write the phonetic translation for the word:

/ ˌeʤuˈkeɪʃn /

By providing careful English pronunciation teaching, your students will not only improve in their English speaking skills, they will also improve listening skills. They will hear and feel the results, and will gain confidence speaking English outside the classroom.

Michael Bunyak

English Teacher at Canadian Education College, Singapore