Westminster, Vermont TESOL Online & Teaching English Jobs

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Here Below you can check out the feedback (for one of our units) of one of the 16.000 students that last year took an online course with ITTT!

This was definitely the most difficult unit for me yet. While everything was easy to comprehend and made sense, it remains a challenge to commit the information to memory and put it into practice in the classroom. Despite this, I also found this unit the most interesting. It went over intonation, stress, and pronunciation, the last of which was broken into quite a bit, such as the International Phonemic Alphabet (IPA) and place of articulation. Intonation and the stressing of certain syllables seem integral parts of language and provide ways to broaden communicative capabilities. I say this because of the many examples the unit gives, such as the sports announcer hinting ate results before he reveals them with his intonation. With the flow of our speech we are able to communicate things like willingness to talk, surprise, inquisitiveness, and want for a response. These are more subtle parts of language that help convey so much more than straight-forward meaning or definition. Another great example was the stressing different words in the sentence ‘He didn’t mean to kick that dog’. Depending on which word stress is placed on, the speaker can convey very different meanings. Context can also play a role aiding comprehension, but simply reading that sentence or hearing it said flatly with no added expression will not be able to convey any additional information, such as the man who kicked the dogs intention, or if there was another person who wanted the dog to be kicked. Although, hearing it said flatly may reveal the speaker’s level of enthusiasm. Humming and singing or using nonsense words seems the best way to teach for stress and intonation. Like the unit said, it is better for students to listen to the rhythm of the language themselves and be given the opportunity to practice it and produce it naturally. Whenever I taught intonation or stress in my classes, I found that highlighting exactly where stress should be or where students’ voices should rise and fall in a sentence made everyone too self-conscious, which produced force, unnatural speech. From my experience getting the hand of speaking and listening is best done by doing just that. Of course we can talk about certain aspects of them with the class, but focusing on the exact syllables that should have stress, rise or fall draws student’s attention away from more important matters, especially since there are always so many accept ions to the rules. As for pronunciation, this unit dove into the IPA, sound joining or linked speech, and articulation, including both place and manner. This really stressed the difficulty students must have spelling and pronouncing words that was briefly touched upon in earlier units. I found this part of the unit to be most interesting. The IPA seems like a great tool to help linguists perfectly convey sounds. I am a bit hesitant to try it in a class because some of my students already have trouble with the normal Roman alphabet, but in higher level classes it might prove to be a great aid, especially when looking up new words in the dictionary. I found the diagrams and explanations of articulation fascinating. I think that for some trickier sounds, particularly the ‘th’ sound, such illustrations would help my students greatly. Knowing what speech organs are in use and the manner in which they are used has also helped my understanding of pronunciation. I did not really realize that a ‘p’ is just and unvoiced ‘b’ for instance. I prefer to teach pronunciation in designated time slots rather than base and entire class on it. I think that would make my students too self-conscious of every little sound that came out of their mouths. Thus far I have used a lot of tongue twisters and have over exaggerated my pronunciation (while also teaching students proper pronunciation of course). But after reading this unit, I would really like to give peer dictation a try. I think it would be a good way for students to reexamine their own errors when/if they see their classmates making them as well.