Affective factors when teaching pronunciation

Maybe not all language teachers know about the implications pronunciation has when teaching it. If you are a foreign language student, you might have struggled with pronunciation at some point, like everybody does.

When teaching pronunciation, your teacher has to take into consideration the affective factors of students, which are: native language, age, exposure, innate phonetic ability, identity and language ego, and motivation and concern for good pronunciation.

If your first language has different sounds from your foreign or second language, it might be difficult for you to get use to the new sounds. This is a very important factor because our native language will determine in a huge way our pronunciation. And what about your age, your innate phonetic ability? People always say that the younger you are, the better and faster you learn, but that is not completely true. I have one friend who learned English when she was 20 years old, and she has a great English. You may think that back in time she was very young when she learned English, and it is true, but I have other friends who are now 20 years old and they struggle with English. So it is not at all a matter of age, it is a matter of motivation and concern for good pronunciation. Also, your innate phonetic ability takes a great importance: do not force yourself to pronunce sounds you can not.

When we talk, we do not do it the same as with our dad, our friend, our partner, our teacher, ... Your identity and language ego when speaking will not always be the same, so do not expect to talk the same all the time: when you are with your mom, you talk and pronunce words in a different way when you talk to your partner. Finally, we have exposure. How many times a day do you have a chance to speak in your foreign or second language? Almost all of the sudents who learn another language do not have the chance to practice conversation or speaking outside the classroom. Exposure to the language will make you feel you have to improve on your pronunciation, but anyway, if you are not exposed to the language, it is not a reason for you to not improve.

As a student, take these considerations (affective factors) when learning and practicing pronuncation. As a teacher, take these affective factors into consideration when teaching pronunciation; rememeber that you are a teacher, and your job is not only to teach, it is also to form students into great people.

References from Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy (Second edition), by H. Douglas Brown.