Teaching Pronunciation Essay

4097 words - 16 pages

Principio del formulario
During the present paper I will choose two problems of transfer between Spanish and English that I consider to be obstacles to efficient communication and I will analyse them from two points of view.
In the first place I will explain the causes of the problems as regards phonetic and phonological aspects.
In the second place I will explain how I think the problems can be solved. This will be done considering I am working within the context of a specific language course (which I will describe referring to age, level and type of students).
As regards the problems themselves, I will consider them with reference to the three "E" variables, i.e. Exposure, Exercise and Explanation. I will also refer to Brinton´s five variables: Learner, Setting, Institutional, Linguistic and Methodological.
Of course, needless to say, there are many problems we could analyse here but I will choose two and I will deal with each problem separately.
1) The first problem of transfer between Spanish and English that can impede or cause problems with communication is a segmental one. It is the fact that Spanish learners cannot produce and sometimes even identify the pronunciation of different sounds such as the ones in the words "vet" and "bet". Here the problem lies in the fact that in the Spanish language we do not have a different pronunciation for short "v" and long "b". As a consequence, it is very difficult to make Spanish speakers become aware of this difference. And once they have been able to notice the sound difference, they have to acquire the skill to produce these two sounds. It is important to mention that "v" is a labiodental fricative sound and "b" is a bilabial plosive one in the English pronunciation system.
As regards the causes of this problem, we can say that the lack of the difference between these two sounds in Spanish makes it impossible for the learners to hear it in the first place. Secondly, they need to learn that there are different places and manners of articulation of the English consonants- as compared to the Spanish ones- so as to be able to try to produce them.
Something important for teachers to know is what a phoneme means because this knowledge will allow them to deal with the problem more easily. If we consider that a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that can mark the difference between two words (such as "vet" and "bet") we have to be prepared to make our students become aware of this difference. If not, they can misunderstand a message or say something different from what they mean.
Another cause for the difficulty in producing these two sounds is that speakers of different languages have a different shape in their vocal tract, mouths and all the organs that are put into action when we have to produce a sound. Besides, the way we breathe, aspirate and press our muscles is also different according to which our native language is. Why is this so? Because...



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