How it all started....
When I first started teaching I was simultaneously teaching adult conversation classes and young learners aged between 7 and 12, split into 3 groups depending on their capabilities. It was incredibly challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. Almost from the beginning I realised that the silence I would sometimes experience in my adult classes when I asked my students a question, was not always due to the fact that they weren't interested in the topic or that they didn't have enough vocabulary, but rather because they weren't confident with their own pronunciation of the English language. All of them had had too little practice speaking the language to feel confident enough to really participate in a conversation, as they would do in their native language.
The challenge I faced in my children's classes was how to teach them to read well. English, as we all know, is not a phonetic language as is German their native language, and its spelling is illogical. I could hear them already; "But why do the endings in 'bear' and 'care' sound the same but are spelt differently?" And I just knew I would have problems telling them about the 'ough' in 'though' or 'through', not forgetting 'rough' of course! During class I listened to each child reading and corrected their pronunciation. I allowed them to take the books home and practice reading them again themselves. Most of them had someone at home who could help them, but some didn't. Some of them managed to remember the corrections I had made to their pronunciation the week before and others didn't. The ones who didn't, had already created their own interpretation of a word's pronunciation and the more often they used it the more difficult it was to correct.
So I decided to teach all of my students, young and no so young, how to recognize and pronounce the phonemic symbols using my method and materials. Their pronunciation improved almost instantly and with it their confidence speaking. Not only did I notice the difference, but they did as well. Most of all they had a lot of fun in the process! Since these early days I’ve taught students preparing for exams at different levels and ages. All of them were nervous about the speaking part of the tests and were not as confident speaking as they should have been at this level - which made me realize that it doesn’t matter how many years a student has been learning English, everyone can benefit from recognizing and correctly pronouncing the phonemic symbols. My method and materials are simple, fun and are suitable for all ages. I hope you enjoy using them!