Pronunciation is the act or manner of speaking a word. For a variety of reasons, many words in English are not pronounced the way they are spelled, and some sounds can be represented by more than one combination of letters.
Learners are usually worried about pronunciation, but it is important that we remember that we don’t need to have a native-like pronunciation to communicate with others in English.
You also need to take into account that there are many accents and varieties of English.
Jack C. Richards, a well-known expert talks about new englishes in one of his YouTube videos.
So Don’t worry if your child doesn’t have a ‘perfect’ English pronunciation but keep in mind that childhood years are a key to learning languages.
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English Pronunciation Activities for Children
These are some English Pronunciation activities for children that you can try in the classroom:
#1 Songs and Rhymes
Songs, nursery rhymes and chants are a great way to introduce younger children to the sounds of English. Many chants and nursery rhymes are repetitive and easy to remember, and your child will not need to read or write English.
Here is a great songs that I still remember from the days when I started teaching English full-time:
#2 Listening to Stories
Listening to somebody reading aloud while following a text is a good way for children to pick up how words and sound, and also to learn what words sound like in sentences.
Say words silently to your child. Can they guess what words you are saying? This will make them concentrate on the shapes made to make sounds. When your child has got the idea, they can silently say some words to you.
Create a character with a name of the sound you want to focus on like /dz/ which is the sound of the ‘J’ in ‘Jack’.
Ask your child to draw Jack and then think of all the things that Jack likes that start with the same sound, for example, juggling, jam, Japanese food etc. Now draw these things around the picture of Jack. Here is an example using a character called ‘Harriet’ to focus on the /h/ sound:
Choose one word, for example, chair. Ask your child to draw the word, and next to the picture write (or draw) words that have the same sound for example, hair, hare, wear, pear.
#4 Tongue twisters
A tongue-twister is a sentence or expression which is very difficult to say properly, especially when you try to say it quickly.
An example of a tongue-twister is Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper
Tongue twisters are funny, but they can also help you with your pronunciation and speaking. There are many benefits of using English Tongue Twisters:
- They show you which sounds are difficult for you.
- Tongue twisters also stretch and strengthen the muscles which you use to speak.
- Tongue twisters have been proven to clarify the pronunciation of words.
Try some tongue twisters. This can be a fun way to practise sounds with older children.
Here are some popular English tongue twisters.
- She sells sea shells on the sea shore
- A proper copper coffee pot
- Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran
- Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry
- A big black bug bit a big black bear
- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
These are some resources that you might want to check out
- 3 ways to Pronounce the Final S
- 30 Great English Tongue Twisters
- 8 Best English Pronunciation Apps
- Full Guide to English Pronunciation
- 6 Best Pronunciation Websites
- Pronunciation: List of Minimal Pairs
- Word Stress Rules
- The British Council Interactive Phonemic Chart
- List of Homophones [Infographic]
- Pronunciation Exercises: Front, Central and Back Vowels