Occasional use is not enough, you never really reach the lift off point. But you have to start somewhere…..Where?
Here are some starting points
Here are four ideas for introducing the chart and its sounds to students. Use a mix of these:
1. Teach some of the sounds separately, by miming them, or by saying them, or by listening to them on a recording. The important thing is to have the students saying the sound and saying it in isolation reasonably well before indicating it on the chart. Get some familiarity with it first, otherwise you simply move the confusion onto the chart. (See Core chart activity for sounds in my second article)
2. Or, instead of teaching sounds, you can use a more opportunistic approach. When a student makes a sound, perhaps while trying to pronounce a new word and you realise it is a sound on the chart, simply indicate it on the chart, and say “what you just said is this one”, and then carry on with what you were doing, but return to that new sound.
3. When teaching new vocabulary, use the chart to point out the pronunciation. You can either: write the word on the board in normal spelling, then help the students to say it well enough, then point out the sounds on the chart, then ask students to come up and do the same. Or: you can start by saying the word, or listening to it on a recording, or in a dialogue, then have the students say and practise it a little, then point it out on the chart, then get one or two students to do the same. (See also Core chart activity for words in my second article)
4. And, if you are working with vocabulary and dictionaries, you can give students a few new words (perhaps from the reading text), give them a few minutes to check them out in a dictionary and especially to notice the pronunciation, then get students to come and point out the first word on the chart. If they make a mistake get a second to come and see if they can fix it, and if not then give the pointer back to the first student to see if they can repair it, and so on.
1. See what sounds students can recall, but don’t expect them to remember anything! Memory is much improved if you focus on the physicality as well, as I have discussed elsewhere. Also this makes you more patient, which improves their memory, and gradually they forget it less and less.
2. Always get the students to say aloud whatever the person at the chart is pointing out. And always ensure the person who is pointing is NOT saying the sounds aloud, but is thinking them and hearing them internally.
3. When a word is pointed correctly on the chart get that person to do it “Again, faster” just to gain chart fluency, and still keep up engagement.
4. Remember, the core activity is a visual dictation of words on the chart.
A note about ‘teaching’ the phonemic symbols
I never ‘teach’ phonemic symbols, but once a student has the inner experience of making a certain sound, then the symbol seems to attach to it through use and without teaching
Pronunciation teaching is not about phonemic symbols, it is about learning to discriminate that particular sound by saying it, hearing it, recognising it, knowing it from others, and finding the physicality of it in the mouth and the muscular posture and movement. Once a student knows that they have the experience of making a sound then labelling that experience with a symbol is pretty easy. What is difficult is trying to label an experience that the student has not yet had. This is like trying to label their confusion. So, first the experience, then the label will come naturally through use.