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When students mispronounce a word, when and how should I address that?

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Produced by Reading Universe, a partnership of WETA, Barksdale Reading Institute, and First Book
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Hi, I'm Antonio Fierro. Let's listen to this next question. "When students mispronounce a word, when and how should I address that?" Address that mispronunciation, right? Well, that's a tricky question, and you have to think about it from a different standpoint.

Let's think about where your English learner might be as far as language acquisition. I've spoken about the fact that many of our newcomers who have never heard English before or have pronounced any English words, are going to be in that silent period or that pre-production stage of language acquisition. Now, if they're slowly coming out of this stage or this phase and going into the early emergent phase, then be careful because I want them to be using words, right? I want them to experiment with those words. I want them to use vocabulary — and congratulations, because the student is feeling safe. You have provided a safe environment, a welcoming environment that says, "oh, okay, I can go ahead and try out words, or try out my new words that I am learning."

So take that. Go ahead and listen to that. Yes, applaud that. Make a big thing out of it, that there are, they are actually now expressing themselves. If you feel that the student is okay, won't be perhaps disappointed or take it personally, then you can recast. So for example, if the student says, "I chase it, the cat yesterday." I would just come back and say, "Oh, Antonio, you chased the cat yesterday, right?" And again, if this child is feeling self-confident, feels good about it, about himself or herself, then you can go and say, "Hey, why don't you say that with me? All right, I chased the cat yesterday. That's wonderful." All right, so we can go ahead. I say it, I want them to go ahead and hear it. And then what about them trying it along with you as well? Now you can go the next step and say, "Okay, now you try it by yourself.

All right, you do it. You say it." Now, for the student who is already in a speech emergence phase, for example, 3000 plus words, then I would absolutely do the recast. I want them to go ahead and say the word with me. "I chased the cat yesterday." Right? We'll say it together, let them say it, and hey, better yet, you know what, why don't you say that sentence to your neighbor, to your peer, to your friend, and have them try that as well.

So really it's about professional judgment. Be careful and be mindful and meet your student at the level that they are currently at. Okay? Have fun with it.

Reading Universe is made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the AFT, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors.

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