What makes an effective practice sheet for accent and pronunciation training?Nov 10, 2021
Repetition practice with well-designed practice sheets, video lessons, and audio files are essential to permanent speech improvement.
These materials build the muscle memory that students need to transition accent and pronunciation training goal sounds into spontaneous conversation.
I usually spend about 10-15 minutes working with practice sheets in my private sessions and I also assign them as homework (in conjunction with video and audio lessons) for practice between sessions.
But all practice materials are not created equal!
You need to be sure that the practice materials that you are using for yourself or for your students are effective and appropriate for this really specialized type of training.
So, here are some things to ask yourself if you are a student or teacher looking for accent or pronunciation training materials.
- Is it appropriate for adults? If you see silly stories or childish graphics, it's probably designed for articulation therapy, not accent training.
- Does it cover as many contexts as possible (i.e. beginning, middle, and end of a word, linking to consonants, linking to vowels, before and after a glottal stop etc.) It's hard enough to carve time out of your day for speech practice so you want to be sure that your materials cover all the important areas in the shortest amount of time.
- Does it cover a variety of possible spellings for the sound? the difference between sounds and letters in English can be tricky. You want to get exposure to all possible spellings of the vowels and consonants.
- Does it contain common words that people use in a typical day? Why bother practicing words that you will never use?!? You'll hear improvement much more quickly if you are practicing words that you actually use in real conversations.
- Does it encourage a variety of intonations? Vowels, consonants, and pronunciation are only a part of what makes someone a great speaker. To be easily understood, you need to get comfortable with the intonations of American speech (or whatever accent/dialect you are learning!) Questions, lists, sarcasm, commands, empathy... these are all important intonations to understand and practice if you want to be a great speaker.
- Does it include multisyllabic words to practice syllable stress? This is the #1 reason that non-native or ESL speakers are not easily understood when speaking English. Practice on how to correctly stress or emphasize syllables in words and in phrases/sentences is crucial to being easily understood.
- Does it include some sophisticated vocabulary words and common American idioms that the student may not be familiar with? Again, making the most of your practice time by learning to use new vocabulary and idioms will make you a much more powerful speaker much more quickly.
I have a huge library of practice materials and you can have access to them all as part of our Teacher Training program!
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