Monday, July 03, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (6)


The first requirement that a TESOL teacher should meet is that she should be familiar with the basic sound system of English. The basic system includes the individual consonants, consonant clusters, vowels, and diphthongs as well as stress, and intonation. It also includes the combinations and the distributional patterns of these elements. The TESOL teacher should know what is meant by vowels, consonants, diphthongs, stress, and intonation.

It is important for the TESOL teacher to be familiar with and able to use either the International Phonetic Alphabet or some modified form of it. This will help her to make some comparison between English sounds and sound patterns with those of the native language of the learners. This will also help her to explain in some graphic details why the learners have difficulty with some sounds and not with others. Again, by using the International Phonetic Alphabet she will be able to demonstrate and make the learners identify the manner and place of articulation of the sounds they have difficulty in producing.

Teaching pronunciation involves teaching the articulation of consonants, vowels, and diphthongs used in English. These are called segmental sounds. Teaching pronunciation involves teaching also the use of stress and intonation, called suprasegmental. First of all, familiarize yourself with the parts and uses of speech tract. Then, understand the processes involved in the production of the sound


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (5)


How much time should be devoted to pronunciation? The answer depends on factors such as “level of instruction, age range of the students, aims of the course, availability of materials, training of teachers, intensity of involvement, interest of students, etc” (Bowen et al. 1985:133).

Availability of time for the course and for the specific class hour is another important factor. If the course is intended only for the development of pronunciation, there will be plenty of time on hand, and the teacher will lead her students through several levels and kinds of materials dealing with structures.

If we spend a lot of time on pronunciation exercises, student interest may dwindle. So, teachers should move on to something else when pronunciation exercises no longer produce noticeable progress. Five to ten minutes of class time per meeting for as long as the need and willingness of the students last - this is a golden rule (Bowen et al. 1985).


Teaching Pronuciation (4)


Most TESOL teachers do not aim at imparting “perfect” pronunciation. Even native-like pronunciation is not insisted upon in all contexts. Teachers have recognized that it takes a lot of time to master “perfect” pronunciation and that the results are not often worth the time and effort.
When mature students try seriously to imitate a foreign pronunciation model, and when the expertise is available to offer technical assistance, they will demonstrate the physical capacity for a quite satisfactory production. But the minute the students’ attention is diverted to the content of the message, the pronunciation control loosens, and native language influence reappears to produce a heavy speech accent . . . For most adult students a reasonable goal is the ability to communicate orally with ease and efficiency, but without expecting to achieve a competence in pronunciation that would enable them to conceal their own different language background. At the same time it should be possible to achieve a consistent production of the basic contrasts of the sound system, to speak fluently and understandably in a form that requires minimum adjustment on the part of one’s listeners. And of course students must be capable of understanding native pronunciation under normal circumstances of production, and not require of their interlocutors a special style (Bowen, p.102, in Celce-Murcia, et al. 1979).





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