Phonology theory and the difficulties in teaching pronunciation to non-English speakers
Pronunciation Problems for Non-native English Speakers
Pronunciation Problems For Non-Native Speakers TranscriptionInterviewer: Good afternoon Mida. Thank you for allowing me to interview you and don’t worry this interview will be very informal. The First thing is, can you tell us anything about yourself.Interviewee: Myself is umm… about myself, I am from the Philippines, and I…I am from Pangasrone. My language is Il Lugano, and I have two children, and in the Philippines, we are a big family. …Yes… so… I am thirty-four years old.Interviewer: Oh. You are still young. I thought you are twenty-five years old…(laughs)….ok. Can you tell us anything about Australia… You know, your experience here, whether you like it or not, or whatever!Interviewee: my experience in Australia, of course, I like the Australian. It is a nice country. But sometimes it is very lonely. And usually my husband has to work most of the time to pay our credit.. a lot of credit…. (Laughs) and uhm.. and uhm… Look after my children… I have two… Yeh.. Both boys.Interviewer: Okay tell us something about the younger one.Interviewee: My younger… my youngest one is very naughty.. and uhhh, he makes my house look like Tsunami, (laughs) You know he knocks everything.. all dirt is everywhere… four.. he is four.Pronunciation Problems Introduction
It is expected that the woman in the video would have several pronunciation problems. This is because she is not an English-native speaker. Filipino English is very different from English-speaking countries. The English that is spoken by Filipino is totally different from the one used by English- speaking countries. There are therefore several identifiable pronunciation problems in the video. These pronunciation problems are easily identifiable especially to a person who is well conversant with phonology theory.Phonology is a linguistic branch that is concerned with the organization of sounds in a systematic way in languages. Phonology largely focuses on phonemes in a particular language, and the system in which these phonemes are organised (Bennett, 2015).The pronunciation problems by the non-native speakers are as a result of the speaker carrying their intonation, phonology as well as pronunciation rules that apply to their mother tongue, into the speech that they make in English. In the video, it can be seen in many instances that the speaker is either transferring the phonological rules that apply to her mother tongue into her speech in English, or she is using strategies that would be used in acquisition of the primary language. The speaker has difficulties in pronouncing some English words properly. Examples of the words that the speaker pronounces wrong are ‘from’ and ‘children’. It is evident that the speaker has problems when pronouncing words that contain letter /r/. The main contributing factor to the problems made by the speaker in her speech is that fact that for the English natives, the alphabets are read as /a/, /b/, /c/, /d/, and so on, while for the Filipino, the alphabets are read as /a/, /ba/, /ca/, /da/ and so on. This explains why the speaker has difficulties in pronouncing the world Australia.The other contributing factor is that fact that in Filipino English, there are only a total of five vowel sounds, while in other English native countries, for example, the Australia, United States, and the United Kingdom, have more than five vowel sounds. Then there is the issue of letter substitution, where that speaker may tend to substitute letters with other letters. Such cases include where letter ‘P’ is substituted with letter ‘F’, letter ‘B’ is substituted with letter ‘V’, and letter ‘S ’is substituted with letter ‘Z’.When you listen to the accent of the speaker, it would be very easy to tell that she is not a native English speaker and that she is not used to speaking English. She is learning to speaker English as her second language, and that is why she has problems with pronunciations. For instance, at the opening of the interview when she is asked to tell something about herself, she opens with, ‘myself is a…’ which by itself is not correct as per the rules that govern English language.Some of the pronunciation problems that are easily identifiable from the speaker include the following;1. Confusion between the ‘f’ and ‘p’ soundsThe speaker tends to confuse between the two sounds. When she is responding to the head of state of the Philippines, she uses the ‘f’ sound instead of the ‘p’ sound in the world ‘put’. This brings a difference in her pronunciation and what is expected of an English-speaking native. Since these two sounds are very distinct, a slight mispronunciation of the sounds has a noticeable effect on the speaker’s accent. The formation of these two sounds in English is completely different. For instance, for a speaker to form the ‘p’ sound, they will have place their lips closely together and then force out air. On the other hand, to form the ‘f’ sound, the speaker will have to bite lightly their lower lip while pushing their voice and air outwards. The difference between the two sounds is that while the sound ‘p’ is very short, the sound ‘f’ is longer and needs to continue. Listening carefully to the speaker say the world ‘Philippine’, you will not fail to notice that she says it like ‘Philifine’ where she ends up replacing the sound ‘p’ with the sound ‘f’ (Levis, 2015).2. The‘t’ sound is confused with ‘d’The speaker has a problem with confusing the sound ‘t ’with the sound‘d’. For instance, when she is trying to say ‘to’ she ends up saying ‘do’. The two sounds are formed almost the same way. For instance, to form the sound‘t’ and sound ‘d’ the speaker should place their tongue’s tip behind their upper front teeth. The speaker should for these sounds by pushing their tongue’s tip up and against the back of their upper teeth.3. The speaker pronounces “ih’’ as ‘’ee’’The third problem that is easily identifiable in the speech would be the pronunciation of íh’as if it were ‘’ee’. The speaker has difficulties with these two sounds. It is very evident when the speaker is trying to pronounce the word ‘president’.The main solution to these problems is for the person who is learning to speak English, and to whom English is not their first language to practice a lot. As per the adage that practice makes perfect, the speaker will improve with time when they put a lot of effort on learning to speak English. Though in most cases the accent will remain no matter how much the speaker practices, putting effort and learning to speak English will reduce the accent to a level where it will not be easy for a person to realise when the speaker makers some mistakes in their speech. This practice can be achieved through various ways, some of which involves the following;1. Listening to Youtube and Podcast pronunciationAs noted by Cotterell, Peng, and Eisner (2015), with the current developments in technology, there are so many YouTube channels that can be very useful in helping a person to learn and perfect their pronunciation. For instance, Rachel’s English is a YouTube that teaches different phonetics as well as English pronunciation. The speaker can use these free tutorials that are found in YouTube, and they will help the speaker improve a lot in their understanding of different phonetics and improve their English pronunciation. It is recommended that a learner can listen and practice pronouncing a specific word that they feel they have a problem until they perfect it. Afterwards, they can move on to practice another word. If a learner is very determined to learn, these YouTube and TV tutorials will help them improve in a very short time. Following are some of the programmes that can help a person to learn and improve their English pronunciation; RalLife TC, Rachel’s English, Dave Sconda, English with Jennifer and Amy Walker.2. Changing their LifestylePeople who are non-native English speakers can learn to speak perfect English through incorporating English speaking in their lifestyle. This means that the speakers can make sure that they use English in their daily activities. This will make them learn how to pronounce English words well and through the practice, they will improve their English pronunciation. Practicing to speak perfect English by speaking and listening to people who speak perfect, English will help the learners to speak different sounds and phonetics, and this will help them perfect their English pronunciation (Booij, 2015).3. IntonationPerfecting a person’s skills on intonation may be helped by listening to music. If a person ca ton pay attention to the musical element of a language, they will realise some improvements in their English pronunciation. It means that the person who is learning to speak English perfectly should pay attention to the intonation of the perfect native speakers. It is true that when is important in human communication as well as the human connection is the melodic pattern of the language that they use to communicate with each another. By learning the intonation of the English language, a person will become a perfect English Speaker (Zappa-Hollman, 2015).4. Reading out every day
When the person reads out loud, they ca ton feel the instances where they make mistakes when speaking. They are also able to gain confident over themselves. This will help the learner to detect the situations where they need to have improvements on their pronunciation skills. It is also recommended that people record themselves as they speak and then later listen to their recorded voices. This will help in identifying the words that they pronounce with an accent, and they can easily improve on such words.ConclusionThis paper provided an analysis of the pronunciation problems that are made by a non-native English speaker. The paper also provides solutions to the identified problems. By following the provided solutions and practicing every day, a person who is learning English will realise improvements in their pronunciation skills.
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Levis, J. M. (2015). Pronunciation of English as an international language: from research topractice. Asian Englishes, (ahead-of-print), 1-4.
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