Author’s note: for examples of routine language practice and its application on Extempore, scroll down…
- Vocabulary practice: Before starting a lesson or vocabulary unit, create an audio prompt in which you pronounce a handful of the key words and ask your students to repeat them aloud at home on Extempore. This type of activity is probably best not to assign for a numerical grade. Completion credit is preferable as it'll reduce any pronunciation anxiety. It also has the benefit of exposing your students early to the vocabulary and allowing the new terms to sink in.
- Tongue twisters: For a bit of fun, create a handful of audio prompts in which you say aloud some target language tongue twisters. This is a great in-class activity, too, but I find that as much fun as my students have doing them, not too many are brave enough to pronounce them solo in front of their peers. Doing it at home, though, will give them the necessary reps.
- Phonemes/sound clusters: Select a particular phoneme or sound cluster that your students are struggling with and give them a list of words featuring that sound. Model native or native-like pronunciation on the prompt and have them submit recordings of themselves.
- Intonation: After practicing with individual sounds, try tackling intonation and/or stress. This is rarely taught directly in the average classroom, but intonation dramatically affects how we non-native speakers are perceived. Maybe start with declarative vs. interrogative intonation by assigning pairs of utterances that can be expressed as either a statement or a question and ask your students to repeat each version. But don't be afraid to get into other uses of intonation, such as exclamation, surprise, disgust, etc. It doesn't take much to show your students the value of intonation and they'll have lot of fun here and get really motivated to do their best (even if it is imperfect!).
- Dialectal variation: Use pronunciation practice as a way to explore dialectal variation in your language of study. As a teacher of Spanish, I wish I could dedicate more time to the unique sounds heard throughout the Spanish-speaking world, but there simply isn't enough time in class. However, practicing different variations of the same word or phrase at home is another story! Students love learning these differences and they'll be more apt to learn and remember them if they practice saying them aloud for homework.
- Periodic check-ins: Don't feel like your students have to nail it the first time. Remember--developing a native-like accent doesn't happen overnight. Expect imperfection, but keep at it by assigning pronunciation on a periodic basis throughout the course of your class. And, because Extempore saves everything for you right on the app, you can demonstrate growth to your students by reviewing submissions from early in the year and comparing them to the most recent assignments.