You can improve your English Pronunciation by removing obstacles.The following are some difficulties that second language learning students face in learning English pronunciation:
Difficulties with new vowel and consonant sounds: English has certain vowel and consonant sounds which do not occur in the mother or national tongue of our students. These sounds present difficulties to the students.
Difficulties with stress: The stress system in English is different from what it is in the mother tongue. The stress in English carries meaning e.g. ‘rebel,re’bel’.
If we stress the first syllable in rebel, it becomes a noun, but if we stress the’ second syllable, it becomes a verb. Likewise, the meaning of an utterance is different Public Schools in England.
Difficulties with intonation: The intonation of English is also different from that of the mother tongue. It is very difficult to learn it.
It is said that whereas it is easier to grip individual sounds in English, it is very difficult to master the stress, rhythm and intonation patterns.
- Difficulties with rhythm: English is stress- timed language, that is, the stressed syllable in English occurs at equal intervals of time. It is very difficult for the learner to master the rhythm of English as his own language is syllable-timed.
- Difficulties with orthography: English is not actually phonetic language, that is, the pronunciation of a word is not the mixture of the various letters represent it. Consider the words knife, enough. The spelling of an English word is not a sure guide to its pronunciation.
Facts You Must Know About English Pronunciation
How to remove these difficulties?
The difficulties of pronunciation can be overcome by attending to the following points:
- Importance of the teacher’s model
The importance of the teacher’s model can hardly be over-emphasized. The pronunciation of a student cannot be better than that of his teacher as the student learns pronunciation through imitation. It is for this reason that in certain countries the best teachers of English are entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the beginners in language. As such the teacher of English should ensure that his own pronunciation is good. He must listen to the English programmers over the radio, watching cultural movies and educational videos,. He should look up the dictionary in case he is in doubt about the pronunciation of a word.
- Model of pronunciation to be followed.
There are some educationists who hold the view that we should aim at teaching the Received Pronunciation (R.P.). (R.P. is the pronunciation of Southern England. It is used by B.B.C. and is taught
Emphasis on pronunciation.
Stress has to be laid on the teaching of pronunciation. This is especially so in the early classes because when once the habits of wrong pronunciation are formed, it will be very difficult for the students to get rid of those wrong habits later on and to form the new ones. It is for this reason that the teachers whose pronunciation is good should be asked to teach the beginners classes in English.
Teaching difficult sounds.
The difficult sounds for the student are those that do not occur in his mother tongue. Such vowel, diphthong and consonant sounds should be listed at the beginning of a lesson.
The following steps should be followed in teaching the sounds that are new to the student:
- Step 1. Production of the new sound by the teacher. The teacher utters a number of words containing a new sound. This provides sufficient ear training to the students to recognize the new sound. The students are also told the position of various speech organs in producing the sound. For example, in producing /w/, lips are closely rounded, as in whistling. In producing, the lower lip is pressed against the upper teeth.
Step 2. Production of the new sound by students.
Students are advised to speak, the words containing the new sound after the teacher.
Step 3. Presentation of minimal pairs.
As Some sounds are likely to be confused with others they should be presented in minimal pairs. E.g. bed, bad, good, god). First the students learn to recognize the two sounds and then to produce them.