Internet Resources for Teaching Pronunciation

Holly Gray and Sharon Alayne Widmayer

TESOL 2000

** all right reserved **

Why would I want to use the Internet for teaching pronunciation?

   highly motivating atmosphere

students can work on their own or in a lab

students can work at their own pace

audio & video clips can be played more than once

a vast array of timely, authentic materials is available

students can hear a wide variety of English

 introduces students to valuable technology skills

What questions should I ask myself before I begin?

Are your students familiar with “surfing the Internet”?


How much time outside of class do you expect students to be able to work on technology-related projects?


Are you assuming that most of your students have home computers?


 What technology skills are you assuming that your students already have?

What do I need to use the Internet for pronunciation?

a computer with a sound card

an Internet connection

headphones or speakers

a web browser (Netscape, Explorer, Mosaic, etc.)

plug-in software for listening and/or recording

a microphone

So I have all the materials, now what can my students & I do?

Learn from and explore sites created especially for the pronunciation student

Discover pronunciation patterns with authentic English sites

Practice specific skills with authentic English sites


Could you give me some examples?

Discovery activities

    with formal and informal English

    using “Foreign Accent Archive”

Practice activities

    Discrimination activities

    Haiku activity

    Stress & Intonation with poetry

    Intonation with an interview

Example Activities

Discovering Sentence Stress

Discrimination activities

Counting Syllables with Haiku

We all have accents-- Foreign Accent Archive

On this site you will find recordings of many speakers reading the same passage.

   Listen to the speaker of your native language and the North American speaker more than once.

What do you notice?  Think about:

    tone (which one sounds more “musical”)


    stress (which things sound louder and softer)

Talk about your impressions with a partner

“Foreign Accent Archive” activities

   One favorite introductory activity:  after students listen to the archive and record their impressions, make a big chart on the board about their impressions of English & their language:

French          Korean         English        Chinese       

runs together        doesn’t run   runs together        doesn’t run

                    together                          together

Stress & Intonation with poetry

   Read the Poem "The road less traveled" by Robert Frost (  Discuss with your partner what you think the poem means.

    Which words are the content words (more stress)?  Which words are structure words (quicker and quieter)?  Print out a copy of the poem and underline the content words.

    Compare your underlined poem with your partner.  If you disagree, read the poem out loud to decide who is right. 

    Now listen to the poem one more time, and see if there are any changes you want to make in your underlined words.

How can I create my own activities using sources that are already on the web?

make sure you have clearly defined your learning goal & have found a suitable website

decide on the type of activity you want to do to reach your learning goal

make sure your lesson is clearly planned with very specific instructions for students

bring at least 2 backup activities in case there is a problem with a website you planned to use


Going even further...

   encourage students to create their own activities

   have students record themselves--editable, e-mailable and no more tapes to carry!

   Self assessment

   peer assessment

   teacher assessment

   example-- Haiku activity, Limerick activity

Using the Sound recorder-- Stress & Limericks

Because limericks have such a distinct stress pattern, they are a good tool for practicing rhythm. 

   Have students read & practice the rhythm using “Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, 1-4” (

    Then let your students write their own Limericks and record them using the sound recorder on their computer (you don’t need fancy software)

   A neat follow-up is to upload the text and audio of the students’ poem to a class webpage.

How can I make my own Internet pronunciation activities?

   Digitize existing audio or video tapes

   choose the appropriate software

   check for necessary hardware

   be aware of copyright laws

   Record right on your computer

   use a microphone and free software

   Transfer your sound files to your ISP account


What if I run into trouble?
Don’t panic! Be prepared.

try out your activities as close to classtime as possible

check for necessary plug-ins and hardware ahead of time

bring alternate activities using other websites

avoid exercises requiring students to visit the same site

Still, problems can happen...

Website down?

Internet connection too slow?                                   

No audio?

Not enough computers?

Students distracted?

Use a backup site

Have students work on different activities

Check settings

Use pair or group activities

Walk around the room or have students change stations

Thank you!
questions?  comments?