Pronunciation is often jokingly referred to as the Cinderella of language teaching (Brinton, 2012). In many classrooms, it just doesn’t seem to get much attention. After its heyday during the audiolingual period, the emphasis in many language classrooms turned to fluency and communication, and pronunciation seemingly got lost. However, pronunciation is definitely important, and it is seeing a renewed interest in teaching and research. This is a good thing.
Helping this resurgence is the development of new pronunciation tools. The drive to find the latest technological advances in teaching can be exhausting and frustrating as we often come across new tools that are flashy and even fun, but don’t seem to add much to the language learning experience. Considering this, I was happily surprised when I discovered the pronunciation tool YouGlish. YouGlish is similar to YouTube in that you can search for videos, but with a focus on specific words. At the top, you can enter any English word, and the site will provide you with brief video clips that show people saying that word. There is a transcription and even the option to choose from various accents (e.g. American, British, and Australian). The user can listen to one clip and then move onto the next, listening to their search word over and over again until they are satisfied. The site also provides ‘nearby words’ and provides phonetic information such as how the word is presented using the International Phonetic Alphabet, the syllable breakdown, and phonetic spelling.
YouGlish offers teachers and students a fantastic way to work on pronunciation on an easy and free platform that can be useful both inside and outside of the classroom. Importantly, unlike online dictionaries that provide audio examples of words, Youglish gives video clips of people using words in context, allowing students to see and hear the word numerous times in various example sentences.
If you haven’t seen the site before, I highly recommend you check it out! For those of you that have used it before, please share some of your ideas with us in the comment section!
Brinton, D.M. (2012). Pronunciation. In A. Burns & J.C. Richards (Eds.) The Cambridge guide to pedagogy and practice in second language teaching (pp. 246 – 257). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.