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HOW TO TEACH PRONUNCIATION




In teaching pronunciation there are at least two method­ological problems the teacher faces: (1) to determine the cases where conscious manipulation of the speech organs is required, and the cases where simple imitation can or must be used; (2) to decide on types of exercises and the techniques of using them.

Teaching English pronunciation in schools should be based on methodological principles described in Chapter III. This means to instruct pupils in a way that would lead them to conscious assimilation of the phonic aspect of a foreign language. The teacher instructs his pupils to pronounce sounds, words, word combinations, phrases and sentences in the English language. Pupils must become conscious of the differences between English sounds and those of the native language. This is possible provided the foreign sound is contrasted with the native phoneme which is substituted for it, e.g.: E. [t]-R. [Tl; E. [n] - R. [Hi; E. [h]— R. [X].

Each sound is also contrasted with the foreign phonemes which come close to it and with which it is often confused. The contrast is brought out through such minimal pairs as: it eat; spot sport; wide white, cut cart, full fool, boat bought. The experience of the sound contrast is reinforced audio-visually:

1. By showing the objects which the contrasting words represent. For example, ship r— sheep. The teacher makes quick simple drawings of a ship and a sheep on the blackboard or shows pictures of these objects.

2. By showing actions. For example, He is riding. He is writing. Situatipnal-pictures may be helpful if the teacher cannot make a sketch on the blackboard.

3. By using sound symbols [ав] — [e]; [64 — [0]. Pho­netic symbols do not teach the foreign sounds. They emphasize the difference in sounds and in this respect they are a valuable help. To teach pupils how to pronounce a new language correctly in a conscious way means to ensure that the pupil learns to put his organs of speech into definite positions re­quired for the production of the speech sounds of this language.

A person learning a foreign language unconsciously con­tinues to use his muscles in the old ways and substitutes the phonemes and the intonation of his native tongue, e.g., he pronounces zis instead of this, or veal instead of wheel; Do 'you 'speak 'English? instead of 'Do you 'speak yEngHsh? He does not even notice his mistake.

In learning pronunciation great use should also be made of imitation. Pupils learn to pronounce a new language by imitating the pronunciation of the teacher. Since young people's ability to" imitate is rather good it should be used in teaching pronunciation as well. Indeed, there are sounds inthe English language which are difficult to explain, for example, vowels. The teacher is often at a loss how to show his pupils the pronunciation of this or that vowel, because he cannot show them the position of the organs of speech while producing the sound.

The description of a vowel requires the use of such words as "the back (the front) of the tongue", "the soft (hard) palate" and others which, in their turn, present a lot of trouble to pupils to understand. It is easier for them to pronounce a sound, a word, or a sentence in imitation of the teacher than to assimilate "what is what" in the mouth and apply the "knowledge" to producing sounds or sound sequences,

Therefore pupils merely imitate the teacher. It should be said that the correct pronunciation of some vowels often depends on the correct pronunciation of consonants. For example, if a pupil pronounces did as Russian дид it means he mispronounces [d], and not [i] because one cannot pro­nounce дид with the correct position of the tongue for produc­ing the English [d].

As to intonation it should be taught mainly through imitation, though some explanations and gestures in particular are helpful. For example, the teacher can show the rise of the voice by moving his hand up and the fall by moving it down. He can also use the following symbols: ' for stress, I for pause, Дог falling tone, 'for rising tone, and teach pupils how to use them while listening to a text and reading it. Consequently, teaching pronunciation in school must be carried out through conscious approach to the problem and imitation of the teacher and speakers when tape-record­ings and records are Used. Neither the first nor the second should be underestimated.

Since imitation can and must take place in foreign lan­guage teaching, the teacher's pronunciation should set the standard for the class, and the use of native speakers whose voices are recorded on records or tapes is quite indispen­sable.

Teaching a foreign language in schools begins with teaching pupils to hear and to speak it, that is, with the oral intro-. ductory course or the oral approach. Since the aural-oral and the oral approach should be used, the unit of teaching Is the sentence. We speak with sentences. Therefore pupils hear a. long chain of sounds or a sound sequence from the very beginning. The teacher's task is to determine which sounds the pupils will find hard to pronounce, which sounds I hey can assimilate through imitation, and which sounds require explanations of the position of the organs of speech while producing them.

The following procedure in teaching pronunciation should In1 observed:

Pupils hear a sentence, then they hear a word or words In which a new sound or new sounds occur and, finally, they heara sound and the teacher'sexplanation of how to produce it.

 







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