Can English pronunciation be taught, is it being taught, and how does producing oral English impinge on students’ identities? This paper begins by considering some recent controversy around the teaching of English pronunciation, highlighting the intensely personal nature of the skill. It continues by looking at results from a small survey of teachers in public and private schools in the Central region of Portugal, examining their attitudes and practice. We see that while the majority claim to do some pronunciation work weekly, a large minority devote very little time to it, and that what deters them most are curricular pressures and the lack of support from class materials. Finally, based on interviews with university students, including some from other countries, we look at their attitudes to speaking English, particularly to pronunciation, how their classroom experiences fit with their lives outside school, and to what extent English speaking is part of their shifting identities. Over half reported that they had done very little or no oral production or pronunciation work in their English classes (in theory precisely the ‘safe space’ where such new phonological identities can be rehearsed), and that this had hindered their development of their identities as English speakers. Released from the school classroom, however, most of these university students felt freer to take the risks of speaking English, some even playfully trying out new identities in social settings.