Wednesday, May 25, 2005

EFL - Pronunciation1 - linking / 영어 발음 도움 1

This was originally part one of the pronunciation piece I posted last week.

Q. Why teach pronunciation?
A. Among other things, to reduce the sometimes robotic monotony (focus on intonation, stress and weak forms); to improve listening comprehension (focus on linking words). Both of these should also help boost learners' confidence.

It seems most Koreans who grow up learning English learn it from reading; sometimes from teachers with little knowledge of spoken English beyond individual words; from cassette tapes of American speakers reading slowly from scripts; from CNN reporters and their ilk over-zealously following their scripted news; and - alas, alack, and similar underused exclamations - from native speakers who over-enunciate to make themselves understood rather than help the students understand and use natural English.

All very unhelpful. It's not at all surprising that most learners suddenly clam up when confronted with the speed, rhythms and unrecognisable weak forms present in the English used outside the classroom.

Raising learners' awareness of these rhythms and stress/de-stress patterns is the important first step. From there, their listening should become easier and actual pronunciation may improve.



1) Write "the dime" centrally on the board. Explain to students that when they speak English it can be helpful to think of each phrase or sentence as one long word. Ask them to try saying the phrase on the board as one word for practice.
2) When you're happy that they've grasped the idea, add "easier" to the end of the phrase. Give a brief reminder ("One word!") and have them try saying the three words as one.
3) Add "They tell me" to the start of the phrase and repeat.
4) Add "to understand." to the end of the phrase and repeat.
5) By this time the phrase will read, "They tell me the dime easier to understand." Let them play around with it and try it out for themselves for a minute. If after that they're looking confused, write "that I'm" preferably in a different colour under "the dime".
6) You can then show them how (as in spoken Korean) when you have word that ends in a consonant sound then a word that starts in a vowel sound, a 'consonant shift' takes place.

(OK, strictly speaking the hard 'd' in "dime" and the soft 'd' from "that I'm" aren't exactly the same, but it illustrates the shift well. I see no reason why you couldn't use "the time" for British-style English.)

Another example of consonant shift:


1) Write up sentence, "Yesterday I got a potato clock." Ask students to try saying it as one word.
2) After a few attempts, in another colour write this underneath: "Yesterday I got up at eight o'clock." In naturally-spoken English, the pronunciation (except, being pedantic, the schwaed 'a' and the 'u' in "up") is the same, regardless of which variety of English you favour.

(Being unused to linking words like this, the vast majority of students have a hard time pronouncing the second phrase the same as the first.)


In spoken English, if you have a word starting in vowel after a word ending in an 'O' (British English: schwa-u ; North American: ou), 'u:' or 'au' sound, a 'w' appears between the two.
How old is he? /ha wold~/
So am I! /so wa mai/

If the first word ends with an 'ei', 'i:' or 'ai', a 'j' appears between the two.
You say I'm too cheerful? /yu: se jaim~/
See all those folks over there? /si: jol~/

If the first word ends in a silent 'r' (er/ar/or/air/eer and so on), an 'r' is pronounced between the two.
Law and order. /lo: ra no: da/
Beer and chips! /bi: ran~/

Part 2 - Rhythm help
Part 3 - Intonation help

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