Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Robin Walker’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Robin starts off by saying he’s not a Luddite or a technophobe, but he has a certain defree of scepticism. He loves pronunciation though!

These are expert performers at something they have automaticized (sp?) and this is similar to pron. We can learn from professional sport and skills acquisition there, and take this into pron teaching.
We need to think about suitability, choice and sequence when it comes to technology for pronuncation. The app needs to address the problems the learners have (suitability), give them choice, and give them sequence. It needs to give them an explicit intrroduction to what is going to happen, because they are not in the classroom. The app has to contain repetition to make the skill completely automatic. It has to have place (students can choose where to study) and pace (how fast). The app has to offer feedback and correction – without corrective feedback, their neuronal pattern will be reinforced. Progress needs to be shown – if students can’t see this they can get very depressed.

Previous pron technologies include CALL (eg software), but some limitations – doesn’t recognise accent variation. Robin gives the example of Geordie ‘cook’. A tape recorder was used to make sure that pronunciation was part of the mark in Robin’s testing in Spain. Students recorded and rerecorded pronunciation using tape recorders – they were very motivated. Problem with tape recorders was resources – only 2 for 30+ students!

For listening, accent variation is the reality. If we don’t help students get used to this, they will have trouble. You can use the Speech Accent Archive to get students interested in different accents, but it’s based on an unnatural paragraph. is the English Language Listening Library Online – they can select by accent. Students are interested in the content on elllo, and have to adjust listening to understand accents. They enjoy it!
Judy Gilbert wrote Clear Speech for American English. There is a CUP app to accompany it, although limited choice. Clear Speech has a clear sense of progression, feedback – ticks lots of Walker’s boxes.
Cool speech, hot listening app is highly praised by Walker. It has the tapescript and analyses and breaks it down.

The BBC learning English website has pronunciation too. But BBC pron has no feedback, and there’s no indication of how to get it right. It can reinforce problems.
The University of Iowa website lets you look at US English, Spanish or German. It shows animation of mouth, which is very effective.
Macmillan Sounds app based on Underhill’s chart lets you hear phoneme, but no corrective feedback. Great apart from that.

Technology for recording – you can use audacity (but it’s complex for some), Walker recommends WavePad. The wave forms in the reocrdings really help them to see tonic stress in sentences (Eng v Span):

Recorder pro is an app where students can send it to you. is fun and interesting – you can tell students how intelligible their English is in general. Listen once only.
Use Dragon Dictate – it changes speech to text on the iPhone. But can have trouble with accents.
You can get Dragon Dictate software too, and train it to understand your accent.
Voice recognition and corrective feedback are the two areas where the technology is still lacking.

To finish, Robin showed us one of my all-time favourite Youatube videos: “Scottish Voice Operated Lift” – watch it!

Comments on: "Technology for teaching pronunciation – Robin Walker (IATEFL 2013)" (1)

  1. […] Technology for teaching pronunciation – Robin Walker (IATEFL 2013) ( […]


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