2 Jan 2009

Perfect English?

For more than two decades academics and publishers have propounded theories on pronunciation acquisition and training since in a global world, communicating properly with other people from all over the world has become a must.

The communicative approach is a product of the dissatisfaction of educators and linguists with the audiolingual and grammar-translation methods since these methods are not useful for learning the whole language, the real one. With the communicative approach students learn to communicate in nearly real situations, or through games and other communicative learning activities in lower levels such as dramatizacion, singing songs, tongue twisters and so on. Everything sounds great, but when you put this approach into practice there are some problems.

One problem is, how and when to correct our students mistakes? What mistakes should be corrected? If we correct all our students mistakes, we run the risk of our students do not want to speak anymore. What is more important: preserving the communicative process of the interaction or providing corrective feedback? These are difficult questions which depends on many different consideractions related to the learner.

Besides, I wonder how perfect pronunciation sounds like. Does it mean that the persons sounds like a native speaker? If the answer is affirmative, what kind of speaker: American, British, Australian, South African? What is more important: speaking like a native who makes grammar mistakes, inarticulate some sounds and make themselves hard to understand or a non-native speaker who has a lack of vocabulary but can express his/ her ideas in a clear way? Is there a 'perfect' pronunciation in any language all around the world?

Watch this video called
21 accents and think about it.

An interesting article about this topic Study Calls For New Approach To Teaching English As A Lingua Franca (July 20, 2009)


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Hi there! Great Blog :-)
I have a question for you regarding ESL printables, today sunday 4 Jan, have you been able to access the site?

I look forward to checking out more of your blog this afternoon!

Take care!
Cheezels from ESL printables :-)

To comment on your perfect english post, I think communication has to be the most important aspect. As you mentioned so many countries speak english as their native language so WHO is the "correct" one? I would say no one is.
Pronunciation and dialect can vary greatly even within a country, within a large city...
Communication is the key and as the learner progresses and begins to understand the workings of grammar then the finer grammar points can be tuned up.

I have been learning Swedish for a year and it's only now that things are starting to click, that while I can communicate on a basic level, now that I am more confident to speak the grammar aspects are all starting to make sense now. I know that I will most likely never sound like a native speaker, but that has never been my aim. My main goal is to be able to read,, write, speak and understand swedish.
Maybe way down the track my pronunciation skills will improve (I hope!) BUT I am glad that I have focused on vocabulary and building sentences so that I can communicate :-)

As a native english speaker I never realised until last year just how challenging teaching english could be! Its a whole new direction and I have to say I wish I had known more about the HOWS to teach english grammar from an ESL perspective while teaching in London where a majority of my class were from various cultures and nationalities. I think that mainstream english teaching in native english schools is lacking in lots of areas, I think that many children could be a lot more successful in English if more native english teachers in english speaking countries (England for example)because it is set out so clearly, the steps, the rules.

What I love about the printables at ESLprintables is that the worksheets are written so that the children succeed. The rules are often written as reminders at the top, each grammar point is worked through step by step.
Wonderful! I have been on a steep learning curve over the last few months and every day I learn more and more! I am really excited about the new direction that teaching ESL is taking me :-)

Hi, Roch
Thank you very much for visiting my blog!! I couldn't access ESLprintables either. I get this error:

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80004005'

[MySQL][ODBC 3.51 Driver]Too many connections

/Index.asp, line 137

I visit the site everyday because there are always many interesting things and I can learn a lot from other teachers. I hope Victor can solve the problem soon.
According to your comment about my Perfec English post I agree with you, I think communication is more important than sounding like a native.
I am not a native English teacher but I have been studying English for many years in Spain and I also spend three summers in Ireland. After that, I finished my English studies at the University and I had teachers with different kind of accents: British, American, Spanish, South African... I also studied phonetics which helped me a lot with pronunciation but my accent is Spanish of course. Accents are part of an identity and it is very difficult to change them.
Grammar, vocabulary, listening and phonetics are an important part for communicating because you need to know the rules, the sentence structure in that language, the vocabulary to talk about things, educate your ears to understand others and the sounds and patterns in the language you are learning.
Learning English is hard for many Spanish students since learning English is similar to learn two languages: you write in a way but you pronounce in another one. Therefore, many students get confused. Besides, there are sounds which we do not have in Spanish and many false friends. Besides, as they are not living in an English country or they have never gone to and English speaking one they feel it is useless and sometimes it is hard to motivate them. Fortunately, nowadays technology guided through teachers is helping us a lot to get this aim, as well as communicative activities, games, projects... This was almost unthinkable when I started to study English, even in the high school!! Therefore, when I arrived to the University and I had to speak English I felt I could not do it. It was then when I decided to go abroad to improve English, and it is incredible how fast I could do it!!!
Now, I am a teacher I try to do my best in order to my students feel English is something alive, which is spoken by millions of people around the world, a communicative tool and it is funny to learn it!!I have learnt a lot from teachers in ESLprintables and other more experienced teachers I have known. Learning is part of our lifes to become better in our jobs.
Have a nice day!!

I have so much respect for people like yourself who can speak two or more languages!
I hope that one day my swedish will be as great as your english!
Also I hope that I will be able to actually get my head around all these "rules" of english that I didn't know existed!!!!!

I would like to thank you for sharing your great ideas! You give very good advices and I will follow your blog. That's for sure!

Hi, happy new year! I knew about your blog at ESLprintables and I wanted to thank your worksheets and your nice blog. I usually have little time but I'll try to follow it and learn from you. Thanks.

Hi Inma

Exactly there's really no perfect pronunciation because accents will get in the way. It always amusing to me when people (native English speakers) say 'I don't have an accent' - er, ya, ya do, you've the accent of the country or region you live in.

I think the most important thing is to concentrate on being understood and to minimize first language interference. Not to lose the accent but to make sure that certain sounds that would impede intelligibility are clear eg. the sh and ch (share and chair).

I have a sheet (creative commons, totally free) on my website which looks into getting students and teachers aware of weaknesses (not just in pronunciation). You can download it here:


Dear Karenne,
Thanks a lot for the sheet, I think is really useful in speaking areas!! I have also visited your site and it is really great and the material is really original!! But the most amazing thing is your life adventure, you are my idol, ok, laugh, laugh but I have always wanted to live my life travelling but it has not been possible since I choose another way. Thanks a lot for letting me know about it and for visiting my blog!!

Great topic to discuss and the choice of Amy Walker performance was perfect. It proves that your English may be far away from the Oxford standards and you still can be perceived as its native user.

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