Author Archives: Adrian Underhill

The Story of Sounds: Episode 21: Discovering the vowel /e/

It’s a lot of fun working with the vowel /e/. Just about every language has one or more versions of this sound. In English it is one of the more frequent vowels sounds, probably in third position after /ǝ/ and … Continue reading

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Introducing the pronunciation chart at beginner level

A question from Kathryn Irwin Hello Adrian, I just wondered if you have any tips or advice about introducing the chart to beginner or elementary level students? What kinds of activities would you recommend in the first few lessons? I … Continue reading

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Is it best to teach pronunciation during early childhood?

Here is another interesting question from the Oxford TEFL Online Diploma course I was involved with last month, this one from Clare Sheppard: Hi Adrian,   Kelly says that after childhood our ability to adopt an unfamiliar set of sounds diminishes … Continue reading

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Do teachers need a detailed knowledge and understanding of articulatory phonetics to teach pronunciation effectively?

Three weeks ago I was a guest tutor on the Oxford TEFL Online Diploma course.  They run this and other teacher training courses throughout the year. Click here for info. The participants were asking a range of interesting pron questions, … Continue reading

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The Story of Sounds: Episode 20: Discovering the vowel /ɔː/ starting from /ɜː/

The vowel sound /ɔː/ is what I call an ‘extreme vowel’ of English, because it requires two fairly extreme movements that seem to be ‘off the map’ of many of my students’ experience. This is because the lips are further … Continue reading

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Improvisation and pronunciation teaching Part 2: A technique for improvisation

 In this post I’d like to conclude what I started to say about improvisation and pron teaching a couple of posts ago. To improvise well in my response to a learner’s utterance means to engage with what they are working … Continue reading

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The familiar /iː/ and /ɪ/, but also the mysterious /i/. How many phonemes do we need?

Natalia Malenko puts the following excellent question. But before you read it look carefully at the difference between the three symbols above…. Natalia says….I have noticed, as probably some other lecturers/teachers have too, that in some dictionaries there is an … Continue reading

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Forthcoming pronunciation courses and presentations with Adrian Underhill…

22/23 April 2014 EAQUALS Conference Budapest  I will be presenting on pronunciation learning and teaching at this unique quality association, and also on my work with Jim Scrivener on Demand High Teaching 1/2 May 2014 APPI Conference Porto I will … Continue reading

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Improvisation and pronunciation teaching Part 1: Cocktail parties, jazz and pron

In the last few years I have been exploring the role of spontaneity and improvisation in teaching, and have written and spoken about it here and there (IATEFL TD Newsletters 2009/2010; ETP issue 82, 2012 (with Alan Maley); IATEFL Conference … Continue reading

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The Story of Sounds: Episode 19: A bit more about working with /ǝ/ and /ɜː/ and a discovery about stress and unstress

While you are working with these two sounds /ǝ/ and /ɜː/ there are some other useful insights to be gained. Although these two central vowels have different symbols, they are for our practical classroom purposes formed with the tongue, lips … Continue reading

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