TECHNOLOGY AS A DEDICATED ASSISTANT IN PRONUNCIATION TEACHING
TECHNOLOGY IN PRONUNCIATION TEACHING
With 1.5 billion people speaking English globally in 2022, this language has been the most spoken language worldwide for more than two centuries. Consequently, fluent English skills opens the opportunity to get a better job in the multinational workspace and gives access to the biggest knowledge base in the world.
Acknowledging this fact, many non-native English-speaking countries have emphasised the importance of learning English, bringing English into their school curriculum as a required subject.
Among important English skills, pronunciation is the most difficult skill to acquire for many learners due to diverse alphabet systems. Another struggle in training pronunciation is a wrong approach, underestimation of correct pronunciation, lack of appropriate teaching materials, and lack of in-person learning. These challenges are often found in classes taught by ESL English teachers.
Therefore, in the Information Age, technology has been increasingly put to use in English teaching to assist teachers. Edtech helps increase accessibility for students, transform students into active learners, and diversify the learning experience, leading to better results.
Below are reasons why educators must adopt technology-driven techniques in teaching English.
Challenges In Teaching Pronunciation For ESL Teachers
As mentioned above, the underestimation of pronunciation is a common issue in classes taught by non-native English-speaking teachers. Yet, Professor Jennifer Jenkins stated that a possible cause of communication failure during negotiations or conversations in English as an International Language (EIL) is “pronunciation errors.”
Insufficient practice time
Classroom practices are lessons and activities led by teachers, laying the foundation for students to further practice at home. However, with large-sized English classes, there is hardly enough time for teachers to work on students’ pronunciation individually in class. Since the more you practice, the easier it gets, deficient exercise leads to little or no progress in improving one’s accent.
Excessive workload to design assessment tests and give feedback to each student
According to a study published by the Journal of English Teaching, finding suitable materials that match students’ needs is a challenging and time-consuming task. Moreover, to precisely evaluate students’ skills and improvement, teachers need to spend a lot of time designing assessment tests that guarantee authenticity, reliability, and level of difficulty as well as giving detailed feedback to each student.
Most teachers have to work overtime, causing stress and demotivation. Besides, given that pronunciation is not prioritised, it is often neglected particularly when teachers have a high workload.
Phonological differences of non-native accents
As we know, countries all over the world have diverse alphabet systems with different syllables. Some syllables in English might not exist in another language and vice versa. Therefore, it might be hard for English learners to adjust to the differences. In many cases, learners tend to pronounce English letters as something similar to that in their mother tongue alphabet.
At first, students might find these difficulties demotivating in learning English pronunciation. To motivate students, teachers need to engage them in diverse activities and make them excited in practicing English pronunciation to improve theirs.
A Result-Proven Solution For Teaching English Pronunciation
To address the aforementioned challenges in teaching pronunciation, a team of leading education experts in ELSA has worked together and developed the ELSA Speak App – an AI-enabled learning app that understands teachers’ painful problems and assists them to enable fluent speaking skills for students.
Automated assessment test that helps teachers save time and monitor student’s progress
Despite traditional teaching and grading methods, teachers now can save time grading manually thanks to applying advanced technology. Hence, both teachers and students can benefit from teaching more by grading less. With the utilisation of Edtech in formal classes, tests can also be assigned automatically and learning progress, as well as total practice time, can be tracked easily.
Instant and adaptive feedback for pronunciation
With technology as an assistant in the classroom, teachers can let students practice speaking and then receive detailed feedback on Pronunciation, Intonation, Fluency, Word stress, and Listening in real-time. A variety of audio input is made available within the app including phoneme level, word level, sentence level, etc. Additionally, estimated IELTS speaking scores will also be given precisely according to students’ performance.
Drive student engagement
In agreement with psychologist Aditya Shukla, it is believed that enjoyable and engaging lessons improve students’ learning experience, making information pleasurable for our brains. Using diverse topics and gamified exercises for situational learning on teaching tools like ELSA helps engage the whole body in an interactive learning process.
Particularly in language learning, humans use a rich network of brain regions for the process, including centers for movement, emotions, and comprehension. An exciting studying experience promotes deliberate engagement of those parts.
How ELSA works in your class
To start learning with ELSA, each student is required to take an initial assessment test so that the AI coach can analyse students’ speaking levels and suggest appropriate learning strategies. Hence, all students can have sufficient in-class practice and improve on the go. ELSA experts also build up a standard curriculum based on three student’s levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
Furthermore, teachers can assign homework with ELSA speaking exercises and topics. Games and competitions are also available on ELSA to boost students’ motivation. Besides, an enthusiastic learning experience is enhanced by diverse vocabulary and grammar study sets. On top of that, ELSA can act as a platform for communication between teachers and students or parents to report real-time learning progress.
The results of applying technology-driven pronunciation teaching techniques
In 2021, nearly 70% of English learners chose to practice English with the help of technology. 96% of those students find technology useful for their English learning process. Moreover, among different kinds of technology, Educational App is the most popular type, with the highest percentage of 75%.
Statistics have shown that using technology, especially educational apps, is very important in learning and teaching English. Admittedly, institutions are trying to adapt to the new era, aiming to provide the best possible education.
In partnership with Rice University, ELSA has helped our partner improve the speaking skills of their international students. The final report showed that Rice students increased their pronunciation score by 7% over their initial diagnostic score after only 6 weeks. Katerina – Lead Instructor of this pilot program commented on the overall results: “Each week my students do an oral presentation, and I can tell whether they have been practicing with ELSA or not. ELSA has also allowed me to continuously track and support students’ progress, through tracking the dashboard, I’m able to identify when students are falling behind and prompt them to increase their practice time”.