Thursday, June 22, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (3)


Experience tells us that individuals differ from one another as to their ability to pronounce English correctly. At least six factors have been identified by teachers of TESOL. These are: 1. The influence of the learner’s native language. 2. The learner’s age. 3. The learner’s exposure to English – length and intensity of exposure. 4. The learner’s innate phonetic ability. 5. The learner’s attitude and sense of identity. 6. The learner’s motivation and concern for good pronunciation (Celce-Murcia and Goodwin 1991:137).

The socio-economic class of the learner, whether he comes from a family in which members already know and use some English, and whether there are opportunities available in the community to continue to practice English outside the classroom, may also have an impact upon the level of proficiency attained in the pronunciation of English. The socio-political attitudes towards learning and teaching English which prevail in the nation appear to influence the performance of students in the rural areas.


Teaching Pronunciation (2)


Pronunciation has been often taught through modeling by the teacher who asks students to listen and imitate her. She corrects the pronunciation, possibly then and there, and asks students to listen and imitate her pronunciation through graded presentation of words, phrases and sentences.
Minimal pairs of words such as bit:beat, hit:heat are used to develop correct pronunciation. These may be followed by phrases and sentences for proper sentence melody practice.
More often than not, the teacher expects a native-like pronunciation from her students, which the adult students often find impossible to achieve. Ultimately such a teacher is forced to settle for a level of pronunciation which may be understood without much effort by the native speakers, even though it is heavily accented!


Teaching Pronunciation (1)


Pronunciation is a very important component of speaking skill. Without proper pronunciation, which should be somewhat similar to but not necessarily identical to native performance, second or foreign language users of English will not be able to communicate accurately.
It is possible to communicate the information without elegant pronunciation. It is also possible to communicate one’s intent without elegant pronunciation. However, such communication would be inadequate or could even lead to miscommunication.Moreover, if we allow this to happen all the time and if we do not insist on certain standards of pronunciation, there is a danger that the students would be “led to a permanent plateau of pidgin from which very few emerge” (Bowen et al. 1985).
Remember that pronunciation lends accuracy to the message conveyed. Remember also that if the learner’s pronunciation is “very poor”, a concept which needs to be clarified and specified in context, he will have great difficulty in communicating orally with native speakers of English. He may have excellent skills in writing and reading, but if his pronunciation is very poor, he will not be seen to be proficient in English. Native speakers of English often tend to be generous towards the second/foreign learners of English. And yet there is always the danger that poor pronunciation may be equated with the lack of knowledge of English.





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