Why do Callan teachers correct every mistake you make? Many people argue it’s more important to be understood than to say something like a native. Whilst there is some truth in this argument, it’s not really a rule you can apply to a language like English, where just one difference in sound can change the meaning of a word, and therefore a sentence, entirely.
Correction is a natural part of the method and a student should never feel dissuaded when they are corrected. The teacher corrects every student indiscriminately – we don’t do it to make a student’s life more difficult. It is simply to help them automatically correct their pronunciation and realise their mistake the moment that they make it. It helps the student learn the correct pronunciation for when they speak and also for when they hear the word in practice. Many language learners have learned from non-natives who have a different pronunciation, so it is important to realise what native speakers sound like when they use the word.
English has very subtle pronunciation differences upon occasion, but they are there and should be recognised. The difference in pronunciation, for example, between ‘advice’ (noun) and ‘advise’ (verb). The noun is pronounced with a ‘c’ sound, and the verb with a ‘z’ sound at the end. From context, we understand the meaning, but a native speaker will never confuse the two sounds, so if you are interested in getting your pronunciation spot-on, you need to remember which is which. ‘He frequently advises her regarding her money problems’ will never be pronounced with a ‘c’ sound (advices’ doesn’t exist), so make sure you are always making a ‘z’ sound, like a bee, if you will, when pronouncing the verb!
Other words that language learners struggle with are minimal pairs – these are words which only have one pronunciation difference but have a different meaning altogether. The learner can often hear the difference between words like ‘keys’ and ‘kiss’, but when speaking uses both with the same pronunciation. ‘Kiss’ is with a short ‘I’ (/i/ in the phonetic alphabet), and ‘keys’ is longer (/i:/). I often tell my students to ‘smile’ when pronouncing the word ‘keys’, and then they will see the difference – you don’t smile with ‘kiss’!
Ultimately, the best way is to learn through speaking and not looking too hard into the rules of the language, as you will end up trying to remember too much – it’s easier just to practice, repeat, and repeat until you know the word well and can remember the pronunciation. The teachers will help you until you get it right, and don’t need correction!