Saturday, September 09, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (17)


Some of the exercises used in standard textbooks in giving pronunciation practice for stress and intonation are listed below.
1. Pronunciation exercises may be needed to develop contrast between voiced and voiceless consonant sounds in English.
2. Exercises may be needed to develop correct pronunciation of -ed added to regular English verbs to form the past tense and past participle. In wished the -ed is pronounced as /t/, in failed the -ed is pronounced as /d/, and in needed it is pronounced as /Id/.
3. Exercises may be needed to develop a correct pronunciation of -s which is added to make a noun plural or possessive, or to put a verb in the third person singular form of the present tense. “This ending is spelled in several different ways: -s (two hours, he says), -es (several churches, she kisses), -’s (a moment’s time), or -s’ (grocers’ prices).” However, the pronunciation is governed by certain principles. These need to be taught to the second/foreign language learner of English.
4. It may be necessary to have exercises to teach the aspiration of initial stop consonants in English. “Voiceless stop consonants are aspirated at the beginning of a word. In many other languages, initial voiceless stop consonants are not regularly aspirated, and people who learned one of these languages first usually find it hard to aspirate properly in English.” It may be necessary to teach the lengthening of vowels before final consonants in English. Voiced consonants are confused with their voiceless counterparts at the end of words: Who was /was/ instead of Who /waz/. This type of error is seen to occur more frequently than other types with the exception of the failure to give unstressed vowels their normal sound of / ∂ / or /I/. Before a final voiced consonant, stressed vowels are lengthened: /e/ in bed is lengthened than /e/ in bet, /i/ in rib is longer than the i in rip, a in bag is longer than a in back.
5. Training may be necessary to encourage students to make forceful articulation of consonants. A “difference between final /s/ and /z/, as in bus and buzz, is that /s/ is pronounced with a great deal of force, the /z/ with very little. In other words, at the end of bus a listener can hear very clearly the sound of air escaping through the teeth; at the end of buzz there is much less sound of escaping air. At the end of a word, only voiceless continuants are pronounced with a great deal of force.
6. It may be necessary to give some special training in the pronunciation of /l/ and /r/ in words and phrases to help the second language learner to pronounce these like the native speakers of English. (Prator Jr., and Robinett 1972: 98).
7. Syllabic consonants require some focused attention. Most second or foreign language learners of English have difficulty in correctly pronouncing words such as little, sudden, wouldn’t saddle, cotton, idle.
8. Substitution of one vowel for another in the stressed syllable of a word is very common. The pronunciation of leaving sounds like living because of this substitution. “The speaker gives the letters which represent vowels the sounds these letters would have in his native language . . . The speaker is deceived by the inconsistencies of English spelling . . . The speaker cannot hear, and consequently cannot reproduce, the difference between two sounds, either because the two do not exist in his own language, or because they never serve to distinguish between words in it” (Prator, Jr., and Robinett 1972:106).

Contrast in vowels:
peak - pick - peck
dean - din - den
least - list - lest
heed - hid - head
feel - fill - fell
bait - bet - bat
pain - pen - pan
bake - beck - back
laid - led - lad
lace - less - lass
shale - shell - shall
not - nut - naught
cod - cud - cawed
Don - done - dawn
cot - cut - caught
are - err - or
barn - burn - born
flaw - flow - flew
Shaw - show - shoe
bought - boat - boot
call - coal - cool
Paul - pole - pool
lawn - loan - loon
luck - look - Luke
cud - could - cooed
buck - book
should - shoed
putt - put
pull - pool

> Exercises may be needed for the following consonant substitutions frequently noticed in the speech of the second or foreign language learner of English: /t/ / θ / and / ð /. Use words such as the following: though, thank, theft, think, third; thank, these, this, thus, breathe, leather. / j / and /y/: Jew, you, juice, use, jet, yet, jarred, yard, joke yoke, jail and Yale. For the confusion between / š / and / c / use the following words: sheep, cheap, ship, chip, shatter, chatter, mush, much, mashing, matching washer and watcher. For confusion between /b/, /v/, /w/,and /hw/ use the following words: berry, very, wine, vine, west, vest, witch, which. For confusion between /n/, / η / and / nk/, use the following words: ran, rang, sin, sing, singer, finger, rang, rank, sing, sink. To overcome the omission of /h/, use the following words: Remember that /h/ is omitted in several words such as heir, honor, hour, homage, humble, he, him, his, her, have, has and had, when these words are in an unstressed position in the sentence. However, except in the above cases, all initial h’s are sounded. Give practice with the following words: home, house, how, heat, hold, horse, hate, ahead, heart, hurt.
> Second/foreign language learners of English have several problems with the consonant clusters used in English. Speakers of Spanish, Persian and Hindi produce an initial consonant cluster like /sp-/ in English with an initial vowel: speak becomes ispeak in Hindi. Chinese speakers add a vowel between the sounds that constitute the cluster: street becomes stareet.
> Use of vowels in stressed and unstressed syllables poses a lot of problems for the second/foreign language learners of English. Ask your students to remember that when a vowel is unstressed it is almost always pronounced either as a schwa / /∂ or /I/. The stressed vowel may either be pronounced as a long or short sound.
> Each vowel is pronounced with its long sound (1) if it is final in the syllable: paper, she, final, no, duty, and (2) if it is followed by an unpronounced e, or a consonant plus an unpronounced e: make, eve, die, Poe, use.
> Each vowel is pronounced with its short sound, if it is followed in the same syllable by a consonant: matter, went, river, doctor, cut.
> Note, however, that these rules are incomplete. Moreover, learners may have great difficulty in applying these rules appropriately.
> The best way is to give them practice through modeling for each and every word they come across in their lessons. By focusing upon the pronunciation of words in this manner and by giving them some sort of generalized statements now and then, learners may be able to internalize the rules for lengthening or shortening the vowels appropriately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful succinct set of tips. Thankyou.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:50:00 AM  
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