Using Google Voice I have made it a goal to assess my students’ pronunciation once every trimester. Students like the activity, and numerous parents have told me at conferences they love the assignment as well, and love listening to their son/daughter reading in Spanish. And it is an assessment that is designed for students to make improvements.
Here’s how to do it…
1) Get a free Google voice account. Sign in with your Google account. Google will assign you a telephone number. You may have to enter a real phone number, but it just to verify you are real. The number Google assigns you is the number you hand to students. It will never ring anywhere (unless you set it up to) and you can set up a personalized greeting. The best part is, you can listen to these messages from any computer or online device.
2) Give students a script to read. Practice reading the script in class every day for about a week. I usually read it aloud myself and have students follow along. Then we read it chorally. I will go over particularly challenging words that students typically mispronounce. I allow students to mark up their papers, writing words out phonetically if they choose. I also try to have native speakers record a reading so I can post it on my website for students to listen to at home.
3) Once students have submitted their recording, I listen to it and circle any sounds they are mispronouncing. I give the students the sheet back with my markings and I go over all of the words or sounds that I circled.
4) After entering their first score in the gradebook, I allow two additional attempts. The whole purpose of this exercise is to improve their pronunciation. Once they have my feedback, they must make a second, or third attempt until they have scored a least a 90%. I enter all attempts into the gradebook, but only their most recent account is actually counted. (Students always ask “What if I do worse my second time?” and I always respond that if they are practicing there is no reason they should do worse.)
In our next post, we will give you an example script and rubric. Stay tuned! [edit: posted]
How do you help students improve their pronunciation? What other ways do you use Google Voice? Let us know in the comments below.