Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Darwin award nominees for English pronunciation teaching

Clipart: Clker
You have probably seen a note someplace on the recent research "finding" that men tend to do the idiotic much more frequently than women. That was based, in part, on an analysis of annual "Darwin Award" winners over the years. For those not familiar with those "awards," they are (tongue in cheek) given to someone who " . . . supposedly contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions."

Anyone  devoted to the procedures noted below probably does us all a favour by quickly going out of business as a pronunciation teacher. Here are a few samples, my favourites, of what we might term the "near idiotic" in pronunciation teaching. (Most are from websites or pronunciation textbooks--or workshops I've attended over the years!)  If you have any other examples, please post them below!

  • "Move your tongue slightly up and back,  and curl up the edges to make a groove . . . "
  • "Now check your partner's pronunciation as she reads that passage."
  • "As long as you are intelligible, you'll get (or keep) the job."
  • "Work together with your spouse or significant other on your pronunciation."
  • "Think, Men, think!" (The Harold Hill method from the "Music Man")
  • "Go out and talk with native speakers and practice your 'r's and 'l's!"
  • "Listen carefully to yourself while you are speaking!"
  • "Stick your tongue out and whip it back in, scraping the scum off it to do a "th" sound!"
  • "Fill your mouth with marbles or hard candy and read this."
  • "Write that down." (with no instructions as to how or how to follow up or practice)
  • "Look it up in the dictionary" (with no instructions as to how or how to follow up or practice)
  • "If you just have good conversation in English often enough your pronunciation will improve enough on its own."
  • "Convince those around you to accept your accent."
  • "Once you are a teenager, it is almost too late to improve your pronunciation much."
  • "Native speaker-like accent in 4 weeks!"
  • "Just watch my lips."

Full citation:
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2014, December 11). Study supports the theory that men are idiots. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 16, 2014 from


Husam Al-Deen AL-BARAZY (MA in TEFL, UK) said...

'Say it naturally!' I wonder how 'naturally' can be perceived!!!

Cyn Hatch said...

Listen to me (teacher), then repeat, repeat, repeat!

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