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J.A. & K.N. - Singapore said:
Pronunciation problem in SingaporeIt is very important as a teacher to enable students to master their four major language skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing. These skills support one another. But in the world today the most important thing to consider is their acquisition and production of the english language through speaking because it is the biggest thing people will notice. Even though we need to keep the balance, it is a must for students to pronounce each word correctly to convey the information clearly. People will understand what a student is trying to say not because he/she uses difficult words or advanced grammar structures but because of the way he/she pronounces english words. Indeed, “First impression last,” is true in this area. As teachers, we don’t want our students to experience the bad result of their wrong pronunciation. This article will highlight my personal experience of teaching in an Asian country (Indonesia) where english is their second language. Indonesians generally have got a number of vocabulary words in their mind, and even some of them are good in grammar. Looking at the percentage of their speaking opportunities in my class, it is true that they only spend about 2-3 hours of english class per week and that is approximately 10 percent of their talking time and their 90 percent is spent in talking bahasa Indonesia. Therefore their pronunciation is greatly affected, since they don’t use it most of the day and naturally. The main problem is on the interference of their L1 and L2 in terms of pronunciation In my class, students are required to speak 80 percent of the time for me to assess them more effectively. In 3 semesters of teaching english to Indonesians, I’ve noticed a lot of pronunciation difficulties that until now I’m still trying to address for new students. In terms of pronunciation, many Indonesians have trouble pronouncing consonant clusters as it does occur in Bahasa Indonesia. The rolling of letter ‘r’ is another common issue. Another common problem especially for Javanese is their difficulty in distinguishing ‘f’ and ‘v’. One time, I ask the students to give an english word that starts with letter ‘f’, one student proudly gave me an answer and his answer was ‘firus’ and supposedly ‘virus’. It is very important for teachers to know how to explain the interference of two languages for students to know how to correct themselves. To address this issue, words that I think are hard for them to pronounce are always written on the board for drill practice till they get use to it. If they are aware of the big difference, it will be easier for them to acquire new english words and to pronounce it perfectly. They are also required to have their own english Buddy, post shout out on facebook in english and present a two person dialogue before starting the next lesson. One most effective and fun way was their english Corner; each student was given the chance to be the teacher of his/her corner. As teachers, they need to assess their students strictly but carefully especially in the area of pronunciation. It’s indeed very important to recognize certain student difficulties in learning the language, especially the production in communication which is the pronunciation because it is the most noticeable of the speaker’s totality.