Basically, teaching pronunciation is extremely important in the process of teaching a language, especially if it is the second language. It should be said that the formation of pronunciation skills is one of the major goals of teaching since through the correct pronunciation students can acquire fluency of their speech and make it closer to native speaker. At the same time, often methods that are traditionally used in teaching English as second language are not very effective for teaching correct pronunciation. In this respect, it should be said that one of the major problems students can face in the process of learning pronunciation is the lack of the examples of the correct pronunciation or excessive influence of their peers making errors in pronunciation. In fact, the role of a teacher in this regard is of a paramount importance, since the teacher should show the example of the correct pronunciation and minimize the mispronunciation in the classroom.
However, it is obvious that teachers’ efforts are not enough if they are limited only by his/her personal example in the correct pronunciation. Students should develop their pronunciation skills through exercises on their pronunciation and it is the task of a teacher to make students practice such exercises regularly. In this respect, it is possible to offer a variety of tools that can help student to practice and improve their pronunciation. For instance, it is possible to start each lesson with hot tongue twisters until students develop a strong habit to practice the correct pronunciation samples.
On the other hand, even though it may sound a bit paradoxical, before starting speaking, students should learn to listen and hear the correct pronunciation. What is meant here is the fact that students should learn the correct pronunciation samples first and only after that they can really practice the correct pronunciation effectively. At the same time, it does not necessarily meant that students do not have a right to make errors. On the contrary, they should be encouraged to practice pronunciation, but it is important to give them good samples of correct pronunciation first and encourage their efforts to improve their pronunciation.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that intonation plays an important role in the correct pronunciation. It is not a secret that often teachers focus on the pronunciation of specific sounds words, but fails to pay a lot of attention to the intonation of a sentence or a group of sentences. However, it proves beyond a doubt that the correct intonation can define the sense of the entire message conveyed by a speaker. At the same time, the inability of students to use the correct intonation makes their speech different from those of native speakers and, therefore, decreases their language proficiency.
In fact, the correct pronunciation is of a paramount importance because it affects dramatically the comprehensibility of the speech and, thus, influences the effectiveness of communication between people. In this respect, it is important to underline that English nowadays plays an extremely important role.
- Global English
Nowadays, English is a vehicle language that is used for the international communication. This is why to develop the correct pronunciation that will make the speech of students more fluent and closer to that of native speakers. In addition, it will make their speech more comprehensible and closer to the standard norms of English pronunciation which is accepted worldwide.
- Learning language
However, to achieve such a goal, it is necessary to carefully plan each lesson and include phonetic and pronunciation exercises which could improve students’ pronunciation and develop their phonetic skills. While introducing a new sample or unit of pronunciation, a teacher should make his/her students undergo the following stages: student should be basically ignorant of the lesson outcomes, though they should know basic goals they have to achieve during the lesson; then they should be exposed to the new sample of correct pronunciation; as they notice the new, correct sample or unit of pronunciation, they should attempt to practice it; and, finally, the lesson wind up with students being able to use actively and correctly the new pronunciation sample or unit.
Speaking is one of the key elements of the successful learning of a foreign language. In fact, it is through speaking students’ language proficiency, skills and fluency are revealed. Basically, speaking is not only the marker of students’ proficiency in language but it reflects their ability to communicate using English as a second language, for instance.
In this respect, it should be pointed out that the development of speaking skills is nowadays considered to be one of the primary goals of education because it is speaking that students normally use in the process of communication.
- Fluency and accuracy of speaking
On the other hand, it is necessary to remember about the fact that speaking fluency is based on the general proficiency and knowledge of the language. It proves beyond a doubt that poor language competency can allow a student to speak fluently and correctly. In such a context, it is possible to speak about speaking as the reflection of the general language skills of a student and his/her competency since it implies that if a student speaks fluently and with few or no mistakes than he/she is likely to succeed in other areas, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.
- Teaching/learning mehtods
At the same time, while teaching speaking, it is important to remember that students should be confident in their own abilities and teachers should encourage them to speak. Naturally, in such a situation, discussion lessons may be very effective as they open huge opportunities for practice speaking and students can not only practice some correct forms of pronunciation but, what is even more important, they can use English, which is their second language, practically in the same way as their mother tongue to convey their thoughts, ideas, views, etc. In such a situation, the role of a teacher should be that of a guide who rather directs the discussion and encourage students to participate in the discussion, instead of controlling and dominating in the discussion. In other words, the major goal of the teacher in discussion lessons is to let students speak and encourage them to speak.
Naturally, at this point the question concerning possible errors made by students in the process of speaking arises.
However, a teacher should not pay too much attention to all errors. In fact, during discussion lessons accuracy is secondary compared to fluency since students should gain confidence in their own language skills and that they are really able to speak using a foreign language. On the other hand, the total ignorance of mistakes made by students is not acceptable. In such a situation, it is possible to organize and plan the lesson in such a way, that a teacher could maintain the discussion and avoid its interruption at least as long as students errors do not prevent a listener, i.e. a teacher and other students, from clear and adequate comprehension of message of students. If errors made by students are serious and influence the sense of their message they apparently need to be corrected. Alternatively, it is possible to left the discussion of errors until the end of the lesson and without personification, i.e. without any personal reference to students that made errors, briefly discuss the major errors which were common for the class during the discussion lesson. In such a way, it will be possible to identify major errors and discuss them with a class and avoid discouraging students since a teacher does not directly indicates to errors made by a particular student.
Basically, such discussion lessons meet the Communicative Learning Teaching, which is the most widely spread method in the contemporary methodology of teaching English as second language. However, it is possible to combine several methods to increase the effectiveness of teaching speaking. For instance, it is possible to use elements of Suggestopedia, creating a comfortable ambiance and making students relaxed, as well as it is possible to involve some physical activities, such as role plays, for instance, to increase the effectiveness of teaching, and other methods.
While teaching English as second language, it is important to remember about the fact that all students are different and unique in a way. As a teacher begins to work with students, he/she should take into consideration several factors about students which may influence the effectiveness and outcomes of teaching. To put it more precisely, it is necessary to take into consideration the current level of the language proficiency of students. Secondly, it is necessary to take into consideration their level of development. What is meant here is the fact that psychological and social development of students, their age, may affect their learning considerably. It proves beyond a doubt that methods and approaches teachers use in their work with adolescents will differ considerably from methods used in the work with adults, or young learners, for instance.
- Difference between adult and children learners
In such a situation, it is necessary to take into consideration the specificities of each age group and apply methods that are the most effective for each group. For instance, while working with children games is apparently the most effective way of teaching because game is a natural activity for children and, therefore, they will readily accept the learning material which they will perceive through a game. It is worth mentioning that games may be used in teaching even complicated grammar patterns, such as verb forms. However, these methods will hardly working with adults. Unlike children, adults have a well-developed logical thinking and they tend to abstract thinking that actually enlarges the opportunities for the use of various methods in the process of teaching. At the same time, even the routine drilling may work in teaching adults. For instance, giving them certain set of rules and samples, teachers can teach them verb forms. However, it is more effective to use methods that involve emotional sphere of learners since, being interested in learning, they are more motivated and acquire new learning material more effectively.
- Learner language and interlanguage
Also, it is necessary to remember that the language of students is quite different from the authentic language and it is only on the final stages of learning students develop language proficiency close to that of native speakers. This is why it is important for teachers to be able to transform learners’ language into authentic language. In other words, teachers should use learners’ language and the language they are able to understand, which may be viewed as intralanguage that serves as a mediator-language to lead students to the authentic language.
- Pedagogic aspects
On the other hand, it is important not to underestimate the significance of learning materials. In this respect, it should be said that learning materials should meet the level of students language proficiency and their level of development. In other words, learning materials should meet current needs, interests and level of students. In practice, this means that teacher should select learning materials that are the most effective for a particular group of student. It is worth mentioning the fact that often authentic materials are viewed as more effective than commercial produced TESOL materials. However, in actuality, authentic materials are not always better or more effective. For instance, while learning grammar, including tenses and verb forms, it is more effective to use language and materials that adapted specifically for certain group of students. In fact, even the use of mother tongue is sometimes acceptable to adequately explain grammar material to students, while authentic materials will more likely fail to convey grammar material comprehensibly to learners.
At the same time, it is necessary to remember that any learning material needs the work of a teacher since students cannot learn from the learning material in direct. They need a teacher as a guide who will explain what and how to learn and, if necessary help students resolve problems and difficulties they face in the process of learning new material.
Teaching writing may be accompanied by numerous challenges and difficulties a teacher should be able to overcome to achieve the high effectiveness of teaching. It is worth mentioning the fact that under the impact of the contemporary methodology and the growing popularity of such methods as Communicative Learning, the role of writing tends to decrease. At any rate, it should be said that while teaching English as second language teachers often pay more attention to speaking, for instance, than writing. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that, as a rule, students start learning English as second language through speaking and listening mainly, while writing turns to be secondary. In such a way, teachers attempt to meet the natural stages of the learning of language, when people start from the development speaking and listening skills and then develop their writing and reading skills.
- Teaching writing
In addition, the changes in the contemporary world make teaching writing more oriented on the development of skills that may be used in real life situations. In fact, writing becomes more and more practice-oriented. On the other hand, it should be said that such trends do not really decrease the significance of writing because writing is still important and even essential element of communication. At the same time, it should be said that the development of language proficiency is simply impossible without the development of writing skills. In this respect, it should be said that writing is closely intertwined with other skills, such as reading, listening and pronunciation. All of them affect writing considerably and, if they are used effectively, they can produce a positive impact on the development of writing skills of students.
Furthermore, peaking about writing it should be said that the development of writing cannot be limited by academic activities solely, i.e. the development of writing skills during lessons and lesson-related activities. In fact, it is possible to develop writing through vocational activities, for instance, student can write their own diaries in English, or blogs, and other activities that mainly related to their free time than their academic activities.
- Genres in TESOL
While teaching writing, it is necessary to start with basics, such as spelling rules and alphabet, which are the basis for the further development of writing skills. Further, it is possible to use more complicated learning material and structures, but it is necessary to teach students punctuation and grammar structures. As for the latter, tense and verb forms are probably the most challengeable part and writing may be very helpful in this regard, since, while doing exercises involving new grammar structures students practice them more and learn to apply them not only in oral speech but also in written form. At the same time, it is important to combine the use of writing and speaking while teaching tense forms, such future tenses or hypothetical forms in order to help students better understand these forms.
Learning process is very complicated, but, it is necessary to remember about the fact that the learning process is not only the process of acquisition of new skills and knowledge. In fact, teachers should understand that learning should be a two-side road, where students should not only learn, but also receive certain rewards for their learning and, thus, get motivated. In this respect, the role of the assessment can hardly be underestimated. Basically, the adequate assessment of students’ progress and development is one of the major factors that can keep students motivated and encourage their further learning. At the same time, errors in the process of the assessment may be extremely dangerous since they may lead to the lack of enthusiasm and interest from the part of learners and, what is more important, underassessment of students may undermine their self-esteem and assurance in their ability to learn English as second language. The latter seems the most dangerous because it will be very difficult to make students confident in his/her own skills and abilities again.
- Assessment TESOL
In such a situation, to provide the higher degree of objectivity tests are widely used for the assessment of knowledge, skills and abilities of students. However, it is worth mentioning the fact that tests do not always work effectively. In fact, under the impact of various factors, students may fail their tests, but, in actuality, their language proficiency may be relatively high. Nevertheless, tests are widely used to assess students competency as well as their knowledge of language, including. For instance, they may be used to check students’ knowledge concerning various grammar patterns such as nouns, articles, etc. Basically, these tests may be quite effective, especially in relation to grammar, since they help to reveal the extent to which students is advanced in grammar and is able to apply his/her knowledge in practice during tests.
At the same time, tests may be also widely applied to assess the level of the language proficiency of students. In this respect, it is worth mentioning such tests as diagnostic tests, which help define the current level of students, progress tests, to assess their progress, proficiency tests, to assess the extent to which students have gained the language competence. It is important to distinguish between formative assessment, which helps assess the progress and development of students, their skills and abilities they have formed in the process of learning, and summative assessment, which basically defines the level of the development or language proficiency of students at the definite period of time.
The ultimate goal of teaching English as second language, as well as teaching at large, is the development of skills and abilities of students to learn how to learn. In other words, students should be able to learn independently from educators. This is particularly important in relation to language because language is constantly progressing and it is practically impossible to provide students with certain set of rules, vocabulary, grammar samples, etc. and students will be able to maintain their language proficiency in the course of their life. On the contrary, the language is constantly progressing and developing that naturally leads to considerable change which students should be able to learn and acquire independently from teachers because in their professional life, for instance, they may not have an opportunity to train or take some courses.
- Learning to learn in TOSEL
Moreover, in order to maintain the high language competence students should be able to progress constantly without assistance of educators. In such a situation, the ability to learn becomes crucial for learners of English as second language. In such a way, the major goal of teacher is to make get their students used to the necessity of the constant progress and learning. Students should realize that without constant improvement of their language competency they will degrade and all their education will fail.
However, teachers, themselves, also need regular training and improvement of their professional skills and abilities since, as the language progresses, so does the methodology of its teaching. In such a way, teachers should be active learners who should constantly strive for the improvement of their own language competency and enlargement their methodology, which they should be able to apply effectively in the process of teaching. Consequently, teachers should be able to apply and to teach students to use different styles and strategies to learn English as second language and develop their language proficiency.
- Whole text in TESOL
At the same time, teaching language should be view in the context of the social-semiotic perspective. What is meant here is the fact that teaching language should basically lead students to the ability to get proficiency in the understanding and active participation in the discourse that occur in different contexts. At this point, it is important to realize the fact that students should able to perceive the text as a whole. In such a way, cohesion and coherency of the text becomes crucial and basically students should be able to perceive adequately any text in different social-semiotic contexts. In fact, the comprehension of the discourse created in different context may be viewed as the higher stage of the language proficiency.