Pronunciation Pairs Teacher's Book
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Now you have plenty of sounds to practise and plenty of words to practise them with, you will need lots of classroom activities to make so much work on minimal pairs varied and interesting. Most books have endless activities where students circle which of the two words they hear. As you can imagine, this can very quickly get boring. Allowing them to look at the teacher pronouncing the word can be more useful and realistic, as they can often use the mouth position to help them guess. This can be taken further by asking them to guess while the teacher silently mouths the words.
Another positive trait of the book is that it keeps with contemporary findings relating to effective pronunciation techniques. For example, in Unit 1 and 2, Baker and Goldstein offer clear directions for making the sound of /i/ and /I/ (e.g., beat vs. bit). ESL learners sometimes experience pedagogical misdirection when they are taught the English /i/-/ I / distinction (Wang & Munro, 2004). While North American English speakers distinguish between /i/ and / I / primarily on the basis of vowel quality rather than length (Hillenbrand & Clark, 2000), learners of English from many L1 backgrounds tend to perceive /i/ as a long vowel and / I / as a short vowel with little or no difference in quality (Bohn, 1995). In the book, Baker and Goldstein well balance these findings and describe the distinction between /i/ and /I / both from vowel length and from the vowel quality.
Even though the book is a decent starting point for the practice of minimal pairs, there are a few drawbacks to be addressed. Most speech samples in the audio dialogues are delivered at a relatively slow rate of speech, which may not mirror the natural, connected speech of authentic, native speaker interaction. Moreover, they may not provide for a variety of dialects, opting instead for a regionally-neutral dialect. Elements of natural speech in the sample dialogue are also limited to some extent. In addition, the book does not advance far enough for review and mastery; as a result, learners may not generalize the associated skill beyond what is covered in the book. Equally important is that given that a considerable amount of focus is placed on listening skills, these listening exercises are comparatively lacking in both authentic examples and contextualized materials. Consequently, students may lose interest in the subject topics. In a similar vein, though some attempt at variety is made amongst the four communicative modes, the tasks are largely similar throughout, with a strong emphasis on rhyming, and, as a result, are likely to become repetitive.
In terms of language-level and age-related appropriateness, some of the features might be challenging for beginning students, and are best reserved for intermediate learners only. For example, Unit 2 requires a fairly extensive knowledge of how to form various types of questions. This might be appropriate with intermediate students, but may be difficult for beginning-level students who are still learning basic sentence structures. Other features that may be problematic for lower-level students include the spelling exercises, which require students to come up with words that have the sound in question, with the added restriction being that the new words conform to the specified spelling variation of that given sound. Finally, despite the claim that the textbook can work equally well with beginning and intermediate students, the units become progressively more challenging and detailed, regardless of the sound being studied. While a pick-and-choose technique is feasible for upper-level students, beginning learners might find the latter half of the book rather demanding. This could be especially problematic for those whose pronunciation difficulties happen to occur in the final portions of the book. As such, the teacher may need to make adjustments for ability when considering which part of the book to work on.
Whenever the opportunity arises, you can remind them of these pronunciation lessons and minimal pairs when those minimal pair words pop up again in speaking, listening and reading lessons. This is a great way to continue pointing out the words used in your minimal pairs in context. Then students can hear how they sound (again) and get a feel for which words have which meanings.
The results correspond with Ehrman's examples  displaying boundary, language aptitude test scores, and others. Although the book does not discuss the boundary's relationship with any particular aspect of language acquisition outcome/performance, it is found that boundary scores are significantly correlated with the phonological encoding and phonological awareness of the students. This is consistent with our study, where the pronunciation of the participants was correlated with boundary score.
The development of language awareness is the focus of Part Two. This includes a clear, succinct description of the sound system (e.g., International Phonetic Alphabet, articulatory phonetics, consonants and vowels, phonology), the system of words (e.g., language families, history of English, classification of words), and the sentence system (e.g., sentence classification, parts of speech, phrase/clause typology). Readers will need to acquaint themselves with more recent literature in the area of pronunciation. For example, in the recommendation of minimal pairs, there is no mention of the importance of functional load (Brown, 1988), and the text fails to acknowledge the extensive research that has been conducted on intelligibility, suprasegmentals, and second language (L2) speaking fluency. The statistics on vocabulary largely ignore the substantial body of research on L2 vocabulary development that has been conducted in the past 15 years and ignores some of the leading experts in this field (e.g., Nation & Webb, 2011; Schmitt, 2010). There is no mention of formulaic sequences, word frequency, or corpora, for example. The final chapter in Part Two contrasts spoken and written language and provides an overview of conversation analysis, discourse analysis, and speech act theory. Speech act issues are mentioned briefly in a section on cultural variations in spoken English; reference to the extensive research in this area (e.g., Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, 2009) would have significantly enhanced this section. 59ce067264