Teaching Pronunciation with YouGlish

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!

http://youglish.com/

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.

POST COMMENT 7

7 thoughts on “Teaching Pronunciation with YouGlish”

  1. Great article, thanks! It is really a surprising tool for teaching pronunciation, which I do find better than other flashy products. Great thanks! One question if I may ask: why do you say there is a renewed interest in pronunciation research and teaching? Great thanks!

    1. Hi Amilie,

      Thanks for commenting on the post! I’m glad you like YouGlish. To answer your question, pronunciation was heavily focused on during the audiolingual period, but it went through somewhat of a lull when communicative language teaching became popular. With the emphasis on ‘real world’ communication and interaction, focusing on pronunciation in the classroom became a bit difficult because it pulled away from the meaning-focused interaction that CLT promotes. This was reflected in research as well as there research into teaching pronunciation also waned. However, as I mentioned, this is changing and more attention is being given to pronunciation in both the classroom and in academic research. And this is good! Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Michael, I like your elaboration and reply, which are very helpful for further understanding. If I may, any good or impressive research articles on pronunication you would like to introduce?

        1. Hi,

          Thanks! One book that is often recommended is by Murray and Munro (2015) –
          Fundamentals of pronunciation. I’d have a look at that one for a good overview. Hope that helps!

          1. Hi,
            Great thanks! You are so nice and helpful! Very many thanks for your reply!
            I will look for it to read carefully.
            Wish you a wonderful weekend! Thank you!

  2. Hi Michael,
    Actually, I have to say pronunciation is my favourite subject to teach. I looked at the Youglish and really loved it. I can see it being used for short one off lessons in a 4 skills class. For example, you can take one phrase, such as “How’s it going?” and introduce it and watch several different interactions where it is used and how it sounds. Some people say it really quickly, others say it slower. The students could practice saying it themselves. You could talk about the social use of it as a greeting and how odd that everyone says ‘good’ Then if time, and depending on the level, partners can create a dialogue with it and present it to the class.

    You could also simply offer it as a resource for students to use at home or on their smartphone.

    Thanks for the article!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Beth, which has also taught me a lot. Thank you for your letting us know how to use Youglish in classroom teaching; very good examples I think many peers can learn and use. Thank you!

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