Monday, May 7, 2007

Sounding Like a Native

Many of my advanced ESL students tell me that they would like to work on sounding more natural and would like to speak like a native-English speaker. If necessary, we work on pronunciation, intonation, and accent reduction (accent imitation?).

ESL speakers can move towards "sounding like a native" by working on the above three areas. Another way to help improve your students' speaking skills is through the use of idioms.

I think that one of the easiest ways for speakers of English as a second language to speak more like native-English speakers is to use contractions. "I've," "I'd," "you'd," "you're," "they're," "there's," "she's," etc. This just takes practice on the part of the student and reinforcement on the part of the tutor.

I've noticed that many ESL speakers will take apart contractions when reading aloud. For example, "There's a man on the corner" will be read as "There is a man on the corner." If this happens in class, the tutor can just point it out to the student. Usually, the student isn't even aware that he or she has taken the contraction apart.


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