Introducing Pronunciation Special Interest Group (PronSIG) (by Heather Hansen)

Why PronSIG?

Pronunciation is often a relatively small part of teacher training programs. When we are thrown into the classroom, we have little guidance regarding how to answer the many pronunciation questions that our students have.

Many teachers (both native and non-native English speakers) lack the confidence to teach pronunciation because they don’t sound like the speakers on the CDs that come with our textbooks, but pronunciation is arguably the most important part of learning a language. At least that is what we believe in PronSIG.

I transitioned from being a general Business English teacher to focusing only on pronunciation training because I found that this is the area that holds my students back the most. Despite having studied English for many, many years, they worry about being judged not for what they say, but how they say it.

As members of PronSIG, we are passionate about helping our students speak up in the world. We are interested in pronunciation and its relationship with other language skills, particularly listening. We are all about encouraging and promoting best practice in pronunciation teaching across a range of contexts, from young learners to professional and academic English.

Who is PronSIG for?

PronSIG members attending the PronSIG pre-conference event (PCE) at this year’s IATEFL conference in Birmingham.

PronSIG members attending the PronSIG pre-conference event (PCE) at this year’s IATEFL conference in Birmingham.

PronSIG is filled with a great mix of teachers, accent specialists and the top researchers and authors in this field. I was intellectually star-struck when I attended my very first PronSIG event (the PronSIG PCE in Manchester two years ago) to find myself surrounded by the authors of all my favorite pronunciation textbooks and references.

No one eats alone! A group of PronSIG members have dinner together before a one-day event in Dublin last year.

No one eats alone! A group of PronSIG members have dinner together before a one-day event in Dublin last year.

The warm and welcoming attitude of the members of this closely-knit community can be felt from the minute you walk in the door. It is a place for open sharing, learning and dialogue. We truly enjoy each other’s company and have a “no one eats alone” rule that has led to us organizing many casual dinners and get-togethers in conjunction with our live events.

All are welcome in PronSIG. Whether you are a teacher looking for practical pronunciation activities to apply to the classroom, or a researcher who likes to discuss global trends in English pronunciation, you’ll feel at home in this community.

PronSIG Events

In addition to our yearly PCE at the spring IATEFL conference in the UK, we organize one or two other live events, as well as online webinars throughout the year. Just this last weekend in Brighton, we had a fascinating one-day event, Different Voices, featuring plenary speakers John Wells and Adrian Underhill in addition to a strong panel of 12 additional speakers running breakout sessions. The day’s topics covered everything from intonation to the physicality of creating sounds, to specific pronunciation exercises that can be applied to the classroom.

Some of the speakers and participants attending the Different Voices event last weekend in Brighton.

Some of the speakers and participants attending the Different Voices event last weekend in Brighton.

Our most exciting PCE is coming up at the next IATEFL conference in Glasgow, where we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Jones’ landmark English Pronouncing Dictionary. Featured presenters include the editors of the current edition of Daniel Jones’ dictionary (Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, 18th Edition), Peter Roach, Jane Setter and Robin Walker. They’ll be walking us through a century of changes and developments in English pronunciation. You can learn more and register on the IATEFL website.

SpeakOut! The Journal of the IATEFL PronSIG

Speak Out! The Journal of the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group, now in it’s 55th issue.

Speak Out! The Journal of the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group, now in it’s 55th issue.

The PronSIG Journal, SpeakOut!, is a biannual publication featuring articles and reviews on pronunciation and listening. It is a leading resource for pronunciation professionals and researchers worldwide. The 55th issue was just released last month.

The journal is free for members of PronSIG, and non-members can purchase past issues through IATEFL. You can view “tasters” of past issues on our website, including activities you can try out in the classroom.

Learn more about Pronunciation and PronSIG

We welcome you to attend our events (both live and virtual), follow us on social media and subscribe to our SIG journal, SpeakOut!.

PronSIG website screenshot

We have an active presence on Facebook and Twitter and you can learn much more about us and our upcoming events on our website.

About Heather

Heather

Heather Hansen is Director of the corporate training firm Global Speech Academy and is a member of the PronSIG organizing committee. Based in Denmark, she works globally delivering keynote talks, running corporate workshops and coaching leaders in pronunciation and presentation skills. She is creator of the online Pronunciation Mastery Program, has a significant YouTube following and is author/contributing author of 4 books.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. If you’re not a member, find out more about joining. We look forward to hearing from you!

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