If you haven’t found this resource yet, let me introduce you to Forvo, where you and your students will find close to three million pronunciations of almost as many words in 324 languages.
I’m a teacher of a language with very specific pronunciation rules (Spanish) and I have a pretty deep knowledge of how (and why) those rules work. But I still find myself unsure at times – particularly with words that include x or a word that used to have an accent and no longer does, or sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t. Other times, I know how the word should be pronounced, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it differently, and I want to hear multiple native speakers say it. Now, Word Reference continues to be one of the most valuable online tools for a language student or teacher, but if I (or my student) look up the word lápiz (pencil), I can only hear the pronunciation from Spain, and if you know anything about that, you know it’s definitely not the only or even most common way to pronounce it. On Forvo, on the other hand,
Count ’em – six pronunciations of lápiz. I can hear two men and one woman from Spain say it, or a man from Bolivia, a woman from Argentina, or a woman from Colombia.
Aside from the obvious, here are some ideas for using Forvo:
- Ask your heritage students to add to the pronunciations on the site.
- As a homework choice, students can choose to listen to the pronunciations from their vocabulary list (if you have one) (and make notes about differences among countries, or differences from what they assumed, for example).
- Ask AP students to look up words they don’t know in an authentic text and also hear their pronunciation in Forvo. Students can do separate words and then share what they’ve found with the class.
- Have students find out how to pronounce all the regional Spanish variations of a particular English word- also a good way to introduce them to the concept that the word they’re learning in their textbook may not be used everywhere.
- Encourage students to add to the English database on their own time.
How will you and your students use Forvo to improve pronunciation?