This is the most valuable teaching tip for ESL. Mimicking refers to the modeling of a word for your students so they can then repeat it, copying the same stress and tone you use. Once the students have the word, ask them to repeat its usage in a simple phrase to give it context.

If necessary, use exaggeration to illustrate to your students the proper positioning of tongue lips and teeth to obtain the right word pronunciation.  It’s ok to incite laughter from the students.  They are learning!

Illustrate the Difference Between Correct and Incorrect

Some words in English sound very much like other words, although their meanings are quite different. To someone learning English as a second language this can present a confusing obstacle to learning but one which can be overcome with time and practice.

For example, certain letters in English have both a hard and soft sound in specific words, like the letter “g.” The soft sounding “g” sounds confusingly familiar to the sound made by the letter “j.” For this reason, simple words can present difficulty to the learner and render correct pronunciation a challenge.

In addition, two vowels used together create sounds which can present problems for English language learners. “O” + “U,” for example, becomes “OR,” as in “neighbour” or “flavour.” “I” paired with “E” becomes the “EE” sound, as in “conceive” or “relieve.” Identify these troublemakers and illustrate them clearly.


Anyone who speaks English as their first language knows that rules for intonation aren’t always hard and fast. There are basic rules to follow in English language intonation, however, such as the following:

*Intonation drops off at the conclusion of a sentence.

*After a clause that does not end a sentence, intonation “waves.”

*Intonation rises at the end of a question

*Intonation sharpens when a question must be repeated

*Surprise, confusion or shock are all occasions for intonation to rise

The dictionary is a great resource for learning correct pronunciation. Refer to it often in front of your students and encourage them to do the same.


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