Which pronunciation to teach
Which pronunciation to teach is an issue for teachers, due to the variability of English pronunciation. Here are some considerations. Note that some of these considerations may be harmonious with others, but others antagonistic:
- Prestigious accents, i.e. Received Pronunciation or General American
- British English pronunciation in European countries as British English tends to be favoured in fellow European countries.
- American English in the Americas, as North/South American countries tend to favour American English.
- In an English-speaking country, the local accent.
- Your own accent, whatever that is.
- Following the students' general preferences and only correcting where pronunciation is abominably wrong.
- The most common pronunciation across accents. This means ignoring the bath-trap split (i.e. the long /ɑ:/ sound in RP not preceding the letter R), so grass is /græs/ not /grɑ:s/ - and in favour of gentle rhoticity.
- If there are differing pronunciations, teach the one that more closely matches the spelling, e.g. clerk would be /klɜ:rk/ as in American English but herb would be /hɜ:rb/ as in British English. This is pro-rhoticity and also against the bath-trap split and in favour of teaching /g/ in the finger-singer split.
- The pronunciation that allows the speaker the clearest, so focusing on differentiating sounds.