Monday, December 8, 2014

A Positive Pronunciation Resource: Sounds Perfect

*You'll need to have Flash running on your computer to see the above. iPad users and iPhonistas can download an adapter like this or check it out on a 'proper' computer.  

I remember one of my favourite co-teachers looking at the phonemic chart in the back of an English File book one day and saying: I don't sound like that. She had a point. The classroom phonemic chart is a description of an accent which isn't used by even a single percentage point of the local population here in Dublin.

Often the pronunciation chart is a drag. It can be a little condescending too. I hope the approach above helps by making it a bit less RP-centric and a bit more grown-up. I made this in Flash and uploading it was done through Google Sites without going to paid server. For you ELT Makers, let it be known: if you want to upload an interactive thingy you can. Follow these handy directions.

I learned Flash on a Technology and Learning course. It was seen as a dying technology but there are converters which change Flash files to HTML5 files which are readable by even those pesky iPhones. That'll be a project for later.

Well it would have been earlier but I've been busy. I'll be writing about the IPA chart and the history of our classroom phonemic chart in the upcoming ELT Ireland Bulletin.  Writing got me thinking what a useful chart would do. It would describe the sounds of your own accent as a teacher, or that of your students- but at least someone in the room should be represented. It should be useful for other things too. I should have made this years ago. When talking to other teachers in Ireland, I've said on at least one occasion: I could do better than Adrian Underhill's Interactive Phonemic Chart (Macmillan). We'll see about that.

Adrian Underhill has often said that the symbol set he decided to adopt is a kind of 'one size fits all symbol set'. I've tried to follow this and choose phrases that allow me to fit inside this view while maintaining my own voice. We'll see about that too.

There are a million ways you could lay out a chart and just as many reasons to use it. I always wanted to turn away from a 'one symbol, one word' chart. Taking a little inspiration from the Michael Lewis' lexical approach I set my samples as phrases you could use at your job or in your school, even on the street.

If you have a better idea, bring it the comment carpet below. Most of these phrases are responses to seeing or hearing about a good idea. We come across good ideas all the time.

Enjoy it /ɔɪ/

*Special thanks to John C. Wells and his work on getting the IPA symbols working. The choice of Lucida Sans Unicode for the font was due to his work.

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