How older learners learn to pronounce a new language

Pronunciation is a physical activity, a motor skill that uses voluntary muscles.


Pronouncing a new language means learning to do new things with muscles you have learnt to use automatically for the languages you already speak. Like any motor skill, in order to learn you need to be present both to what you are doing and to the effects this has on what you say. You need some way of evaluating how good the result is, and then you can make the skill automatic through practice.

What is absolutely clear from this is that you must be present again to your articulators while learning new sounds (as you were present to what your tongue, lips, jaw etc could do and were doing when you were a small child). Trying to copy someone else, as in Listen & Repeat, takes your attention away from your articulators, and does not lead to any learning that lasts.


The PronSci approach is all about keeping learners focussed on what they do and the results they achieve, with the teacher not distracting them with a model. The PronSci materials support the teacher in doing this.