Number one for English language teachers

Pronunciation problems

A selection of your classroom anecdotes involving pronunciation problems or misunderstandings.

Related articles

  • Anecdote: Bear, bare, beer

    Author: Gail Mair Type: Anecdote

    The task in hand for a class of upper-intermediate students preparing for BEC Vantage was to organise the launch of a new product. They would then present their product, the venue for the launch, the date and time of the event, and some details of the event programme to the rest of the class.

  • Anecdote: Cheating

    Author: Margaret Bell Type: Anecdote

    In one of my first teaching jobs, I taught at a school in the South of France as an assistant teacher, trying to motivate young pupils and encourage them to speak. After a few weeks, I tried a role play game, which involved the students buying and selling products from each other, trying to make the most money. I had prepared pretend money, things to sell, and they were really enjoying it until one of them decided that another boy was cheating. "Tricheur", he said, and they got into ...

  • Anecdote: Erotic

    Author: Hazel Slinn Type: Anecdote

    Some years ago I was teaching a group of mixed nationality young adults, which included Japanese, Middle Eastern and European students. Although advanced level some of the Japanese still had difficulties with l/r sounds. But one, whom I thought had been educated in the States, never seemed to make that mistake.

  • Anecdote: Going solo

    Author: Patricia Renou Type: Anecdote

    Patricia Renou delivers a Christmas cracker of an anecdote that had the onestopenglish team singing along to a catchy Christmas classic …

  • Anecdote: My perfect partner

    Author: Angus McFarlane Type: Anecdote

    Angus McFarlane shares a wonderful anecdote that left us asking... was this a Freudian slip?

  • Anecdote: Peace and quiet

    Author: Catherine Hutin Type: Anecdote

    Catherine Hutin shares her winning anecdote about a confusing pronunciation mistake.

  • Anecdote: Pronouncing 'Th'

    Author: Brian O'Flaherty Type: Anecdote

    David was a retired civil engineer in his 70s living in Auckland, New Zealand. Short and outspoken in his high-pitched tones, he was one of a group of similarly over-qualified, Mandarin-speaking retirees.

  • Anecdote: Rhyming slang

    Author: Anonymous Type: Anecdote

    I was teaching an intermediate business class in a Finnish company and we were working hard to improve their conversational skills. Finns can be a little reserved at times and find small talk rather painful. They made the effort though, as the company had recently been bought by a German corporation who often sent important visitors to Finland.

  • Anecdote: Speak no evil

    Author: Cathy Eggleston Type: Anecdote

    Cathy Eggleston shares a winning anecdote about the difficulties of dealing with a silent student and overcoming the problem by learning some Vietnamese!

  • Anecdote: The beach

    Author: Anna Thorby Type: Anecdote

    A few days later, however, one of the Japanese girls came up to me and asked, "Anna, what is beach?" I mentally rolled my eyes, wondering how she had missed that key word. I went into a lengthy explanation, reminding her about 'Beach Day' and what we had done there. I was relieved when her face lit up with understanding, but then I saw doubt again, and she asked me, "Then why do Kiwi students call teacher a beach?"

  • Anecdote: The importance of properly pronouncing “th”

    Author: Michaela Pavon Type: Anecdote

    Michaela Pavon on why pronunciation can sometimes be a bit of a mouseful.

  • Anecdote: Where did you learn to speak like that?

    Author: Sally Dunn Type: Anecdote

    One day a keen young Chinese student arrived at our Restaurant Workers class. He smiled shyly and said : "Hello!" in a funny little voice. When he continued to introduce himself in the same funny little voice, I actually thought he was teasing. But as the weeks passed and he continued to address us in this strangulated little voice, I began to muse on the person he could have picked this up from and to wonder about his previous teacher on whom he must have modelled his speaking style. ...

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