Teaching American English Pronunciation

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Teaching American English Pronunciation

A textbook and reference manual on teaching the pronunciation of North American English, written specifically for teachers of English as a second Language (ESL)

Format: Paperback
See also: e-book | e-book

A complete introduction to teaching the pronunciation of North American English specifically for teachers of English as a second language (ESL)

  • ISBN: 978-0-19-432815-9
  • Pages: 272
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 245x165 mm

As an ESL teacher, have you looked at the phonetics textbooks on the market and decided that they don't directly address your needs? Unlike pronunciation books aimed at students of linguistics or at learners of English, Teaching American English Pronunciation has been written specifically for ESL teachers. It doesn't only give academic descriptions, but also helps you to improve your students' pronunciation effectively.

Key features

  • Provides a clear, thorough description of the sound system of English
  • Includes practical ideas for overcoming common pronunciation problems
  • Looks at the specific problems that speakers of fifteen different languages have when speaking English
  • Describes a number of classroom techniques to help improve pupils' pronunciation written by leading classroom practitioners
  • Suitable for both trainee ESL teachers on Master's TESOL courses and for new and experienced practising teachers


Unlike books aimed at linguistics students or individual learners of English, Teaching American English Pronunciation specifically addresses the needs of ESL teachers. It provides the descriptive knowledge needed to teach pronunciation effectively. But it is also full of practical teaching ideas.

The book is divided into three main parts:

- Part One is an introduction to the English sound system. It covers spelling and pronunciation, the individual sounds of English, English sounds in context, the shape of English words, word stress and vowel reduction, and connected speech. Throughout this part of the book, the authors use examples of typical errors made by ESL students to illustrate the descriptions and concepts they describe.

- Part Two describes the pronunciation problems that most ESL students have with English vowels, consonants, stress, rhythm, and intonation. It then goes on to look at the specific pronunciation problems of speakers of fifteen different languages: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hindi and Punjabi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

- Part Three consists of a set of articles about practical issues in pronunciation teaching. These are written by ten North American teachers and language researchers with a wide range of experience of teaching in many different contexts. The topics covered include: pronunciation syllabus design, pronunciation-based listening activities, developing self-correcting and self-monitoring strategies, and drama techniques in the pronunciation class.


Introduction: Preliminary considerations in the teaching of pronunciation
- Biological factors
- Socio-cultural factors
- Personality factors
- The role of the native language
- Setting realistic goals

PART ONE: The sound system of English

1 Spelling and pronunciation
- The English spelling system
- Sound-spelling correspondences
- Spelling in other languages
- The phonetic alphabet
- Exercises

2 Individual sounds of English
- How speech sounds are made
- Consonants and vowels
The description of English consonants
- Place of articulation
- Manner of articulation
- Voicing
- Summary
The description of English vowels
- Tongue height
- Frontness/backness of tongue
- Tenseness/laxness
- Lip rounding
- Phonetic symbols for vowels
- Complex vowels (dipthongs)
- The vowel /ar/
- The consonant /h/
- Semi-vowels (glides)
- Exercises

3 English sounds in context
Positional variation
- Contrastive sounds of English
- Non-contrastive sounds of English
- Implications for teaching
- Conclusion
Grammatical endings
- The regular past tense
- The plural, possessive, and third person singular
- Grammatical endings in the pronunciation classroom
- Exercises

4 The shape of English words
- Syllable types
- Consonant clusters
- Exercises

5 Word stress and vowel reduction
- What is stress?
- Schwa
- Major and minor stress
- Placement of word stress
- Exercises

6 Connected Speech
Rhythm, sentence stress, and intonation
- The stress-timed rhythm of English
- Placement of stress in sentences
- Intonation
Modifications of sounds in connected speech
- The pronunciation of function words
- Linking
- Deletion of consonants
- Assimilation
- Summary
- Exercises

PART TWO: The identification and correction of specific pronunciation problems


7 Common pronunciation problems
- English vowels
- English consonants
- Stress, rhythm, and intonation

8 Problems of selected language groups
- Arabic
- Chinese
- Farsi
- French
- German
- Greek
- Hindi and Punjabi
- Italian
- Japanese
- Korean
- Polish
- Portuguese
- Spanish
- Vietnamese

PART THREE: Classroom activities


9 A communicative approach to pronunciation teaching
- Introduction
- Consonants and vowels
- Connected speech
- Suprasegmentals
- Monitoring
- Conclusion

10 Pronunciation syllabus design: a question of focus
- The zoom principle
- Assessing learner variables
- Collection of speech samples
- Diagnosis of speech samples
- From diagnosis to syllabus design
- Monitoring progress
- Appendix: Student diagnostic profile

11 Suprasegmentals in the pronunciation class: setting priorities
- Introduction
- Stress/unstress
- Stress and rhythm
- Major sentence stress
- Intonation
- Linking and pausing
- Palatalization
- Conclusion

12 Pronunciation-based listening exercises for the multi-level class
- Introduction
- Minimal pairs
- Stress assignment
- Function words
- Intonation
- Conclusion

13 Teaching pronunciation: an inventory of techniques
- Introduction
Individual sounds
- Minimal pairs
- Visual aids
- Stress, rhythm, and intonation
- Developing fluency
- Conclusion

14 Developing self-correcting and self-monitoring strategies
- Introduction
- Self-correction
- Self-monitoring
- Conclusion

15 Developing natural and confident speech:
- Drama techniques in the pronunciation class
- Introduction
- Articulation
- Pitch, volume, and rate
- Variety
- Conclusion

16 Unintelligibility and the ESL learner
- Introduction
- The receiver
- The sender
- Conclusion

Further reading


  • 'This is a handy reference book for the bookshelves of any language teacher with international students.'
    - EL Gazette

Part of... Oxford Handbooks for Language Teachers

Each title in the series is intended to serve both as a basis for training courses and seminars, and as a reference text.

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Part of... Into the Classroom

Practical guides to understanding and implementing new developments in teaching

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