Thursday, August 31, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (9)


Do not teach the sounds of English individually. The sounds should be part of a meaningful word or phrase or sentence. Students generally pick up the sound system by listening to your model or voices on cassette, etc. However, the presentation of sounds in a carefully selected word or phrase or sentence will help you to direct the students’ learning process. And this will help you also to monitor their progress. By practicing words and phrases which contain the sounds to be learned, students are able to master the production and use of these sounds.

Introduce the sound. Focus students’ attention on the teaching point. Present a sentence or line/text which has the sound. Underline the sound in the text. Avoid complications of stress, intonations, etc. Include examples of the sound in all the positions.


Teaching Pronunciation (8)


The TESOL teacher should have a good knowledge of how the suprasegmentals are employed in English. Suprasegmentals are those sounds which are overlaid on segmentals. These do not occur without the segmentals which carry them.

Stress, rhythm, and intonation are the three important elements of the suprasegmental system used in English.
Some syllables may be produced with more force or intensity than others. This is called stress. English is a free stress language, unlike French in which the stress always falls on the last syllable of the utterance. In English the stress can be placed on any syllable of the utterance in order to achieve a variety of purposes. The meaning of single words can be changed by shifting the stress. Words which are not ordinarily stressed may be stressed for emphasis
Remember that recognition (and production) of vowels and stress in English is very difficult for the second or foreign language learners of English. Some rules have been identified to explain why, where, and when the stress falls in a word in English. “Unfortunately, there are no infallible rules for determining which syllable of a word should be stressed. Many times you will need to turn to the dictionary unless you hear the word spoken by someone familiar with it. Certain observations, however, should be of help.

1. The great majority (at least three out of four) of two syllable words are accented on the first syllable: never, breakfast, Monday.
2. Compound expressions:
 Compound nouns ordinarily have a primary accent on the first component and secondary accent on the second: drugstore, thoroughfare, weatherman.
 In compound verbs the reverse is true; there is usually secondary accent on the first component and a primary on the second: understand, overlook, outrun.
 In the intensive-reflexive pronouns the stronger accent also falls on the last syllable: myself, yourself.
 Numbers ending in -teen may receive primary stress on either syllable, but it is best for a student learning English as a second language to put it on the last syllable, so as to distinguish clearly between thirty and thirteen, forty and fourteen.
4. A large group of words, which may be used either as nouns or verbs, have a difference in stress to indicate the difference in usage. In such cases, the noun has a primary accent on the first syllable, the verb on the last (compare 2a and 2b above). The nouns in this group of words sometimes have secondary accent on the last syllable: increase, overflow.
cónduct --- condúct
cónflict --- conflíct
cóntèst --- contést
cóntràct --- contráct
cóntràst --- contrást
cónvert --- convért
désert --- desért
íncline --- inclíne
íncreàse --- incréase
ínsert --- insért
ínsult --- insúlt
óverflòw --- òverflów
pérmit --- permít
prógress --- progréss
prótèst --- protèst
rébel --- rebél
récord --- recórd
súrvèy --- survéy
súspect --- suspéct
5. In general, when a suffix is added to a word, the new form is stressed on the same syllable as was the basic word: abandon, abandonment; happy, happiness; reason, reasonable. Words ending in -tion, -sion, -ic, -ical, -ity, however, almost always have primary stress on the syllable preceding the ending. The addition of one of these suffixes may, therefore, result in a shift of accent: contribute, contribution; biology, biological; public, publicity.” (Prator, Jr. and Robinett 1972:19-21).


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (7)


The processes involved in the production of English consonants may be looked at from two angles: manner and places of articulation.
Place or point of articulation is the point at which the air from the lungs is either interrupted totally or partly, and is modified in the vocal tract to produce a sound. Scholars identify seven places of articulation in the production of English consonants. These are labial, labiodental, dental, alveolar, palatal, velar, and glottal. Manner of articulation refers to the manner in which the airflow in the vocal tract is modified by the speech organs in the production of a sound. Scholars identify six manners of articulation in the production of English sounds. These are as follows: Stop, Fricative, Affricate, Nasal, Liquid, and Glide.

The TESOL teacher should also have a good knowledge of the processes involved in the production of vowels in English. Vowels pose greater difficulty to the second or foreign language learners of English, especially because of certain complex relations between them, stress, and the production of diphthongs.
In the production of a vowel sound there is no interruption whatsoever of the airflow in the speech tract and there is no audible friction either.
Four criteria are generally employed in the identification and description of vowels. 1. Lip rounding/unrounding, that is, the kind of opening made at the lips, the degrees of lip rounding or spreading. 2. Tongue height, that is, the extent to which the tongue rises in the direction of the palate. 3. The part of the tongue that is raised: front, center, or back. 4. The position of the soft palate which is raised for the production of oral vowels, and which is closed for the production of nasalized vowels (Crystal 1987:153).
It is also important to note whether a vowel is tense or lax and whether a vowel is accompanied by another vowel-like sound which together forms a diphthong. In some cases it is important to note the length of the vowel produced.





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