jueves, 16 de abril de 2015

Happy Birthday, Pronunciation Bites!

This month marks the first anniversary of this blog, Pronunciation Bites.

A year ago I came up with this idea and this name, referring to the fact that even though for some teachers pronunciation appears to "bite" -and so decide to stay away from it-, it does and should not!I wanted to prove the opposite by offering teachers the possibility of "grabbing a bite" from the myriad resources I have collected, and a few thoughts inspired in my teaching practices and misadventures.

C3 Estudio designed the logo for me, based on an original PacMan-eating-phonetics-symbols idea, and off I went into the online jungle.
My own version, made with the Windows programme Paint.
C3 Estudio's design after 7 different versions! Looking pretty!

A year later, Pronunciation Bites is a whole virtual experience, with this blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account where more daily findings and remarks are posted, a ScoopIt! collection of lots of articles, ideas, videos, tutorials I have found on the Web organized through tags, and a small Pinterest collection of clippings that teachers may find of use.

My readers, as far as I can see, are based all over the world, and they are teachers, speech therapists, phonetics enthusiasts, publishers, and some of my own students, with ages ranging from 19 to 85. And the greatest thing is that not everyone agrees with everything I say, and that is, by far, the most enriching aspect of what the Internet allows us to do: debate.

I have had, and still have, many misgivings during the process. In spite of the fact that I have been a teacher for only 15 years, and a Phonetics lecturer for almost 9 years -not a long time in comparison with other bloggers and experts on the Internetsphere-, I feel I have a lot to say about Phonetics and pronunciation teaching and I believe that I know quite a lot about it, more than I have been able to write. I believe that putting those thoughts "out there" is truly worth it, but I am aware that as I write, each word and thought is squeezed through a number of filters, because I still fear what people may think or say. And it is this fear that probably leads me to keep writing. I know this is part of the learning process that I will need to make as an inexperienced and confidence-seeking blogger and teacher.

Another thing I struggle with is, in fact, a product of this competitive academic environment we live and work in. I really admire those people who so freely share their own handouts and games on the web, like Annie McDonald and Mark Hancock, and many other brave teachers out there (see a list on the Facebook page: Free and Fair ELT). I have received well-meaning warnings of the kind "someone will steal that idea from you", "I would not voice that thought if I were you", "you are giving away information that can make you vulnerable", "what will your students say?". Much as I keep these thoughts in the back of my mind, I have become what I have become because of people who have shared their knowledge, expertise, criticism, and bookshelves with me. If these tutors and mentors had simply kept their worlds of knowledge to themselves, I would not have learned so much. So I will try to pay my debt to them by sharing. As much as I can. All the time.

They say that "a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" and I firmly believe that Pronunciation Bites is a space of light for me, a place that has allowed me to have a voice, an outlet, and an opportunity to share my passion for phonetics & phonology in general, and pronunciation teaching, which is what I do for a living (and not just for money, mind you, this really keeps me and my enthusiasm alive!).

This year, apart from more introspection/reflections, book reviews, webinar/conference reports, I intend to introduce teaching ideas and materials designed by me. I would also like to allow myself to show some of my knowledge of phonetics, and especially, of prosody and pragmatics. And I will probably come up  with some other initiative, as by now you should know I can't stay still!

A HUGE Thank You to all readers and followers out there, and I hope my Pronunciation Bites space provides you with inspiration, ideas, materials and courage to make pronunciation part of your daily lessons. Thanks a million for your support!

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