The Internet TESL Journal

Practicing Pronunciation through Proverbs

Yi Yang
yangyi [at]

Practicing pronunciation can be very tedious. Proverbs, however, will give fun. For example, when practicing "a", students will prefer reading "No pains, no gains" to some monotonous sentences such as "He looks pale today."

Sentences with several words involving the same sound are good materials for practicing that sound. Many proverbs contain the rhetorical devices related to sound such as alliteration, rhyme and repetition, and thus very suitable for pronunciation exercises (For instance: Practice makes perfect. / Where there is a will, there is a way.) Repeating a sound two or more times in a short sentence can give the student a deeper impression, and the euphonic rhythm can keep the boredom away.

The following is a list of proverbs that can be used for pronunciation exercises. Sounds are marked with boldface instead of being represented by phonetic symbols because the American and British symbols are different, and some symbols may be distorted on the internet.



Students could later be asked to interpret the meaning of the proverbs orally or in writing, which will lead the pronunciation activity naturally to a speaking or writing activity.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. V, No. 3, March 1999