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language learning resource: Forvo

2 October, 2014

Now that I’m back in the classroom again, I’ve been spending a lot more time looking at, using, and talking about language learning resources.

Language skills are not taught in isolation, so despite the fact that I’m only teaching writing this quarter, one of the first language learning resources that I’ve recommended to my students is Forvo.   This site offers “all the words in the world. pronounced,” and is something that I’ve used in the classroom and in my own language studies.  It has been helpful for me to listen to native speakers of Polish and Arabic pronounce words that I’ve struggled with, and I’ve also used this site to compare pronunciation in varieties of English.

For language geeks like myself, you can also sign up for free membership to join in on the pronunciation fun.  And because Forvo bills itself as the largest pronunciation guide in the world, speakers of any language can log in and add their own pronunciation files for words in whatever languages they speak.  The community aspect of this appeals to me, and being able to suggest a word or name for pronunciation has proven helpful for me too, even in my native language.

I like to use Forvo with students by first introducing the site and asking them to compare what they hear in words that share similar consonant clusters, diphthongs, or other phonetic features.  This language learning resource was very helpful in the spoken English/oral skills classes that I’ve taught for giving students small chunks of language to listen to and then replicate while describing the manner of articulation, or how they were making the sounds that they’ve heard.

Overall all, this is a fun resource due to the number of languages and words available, and the social aspect of requesting and sharing the  pronunciation of any word, including those not appropriate for the classroom.


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