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Using Phonemic Transcription In Teaching English Pronunciation In Schools In Hong Kong

2502 words - 10 pages

MAAL6017 Phonology Name: Hung Hing Lai, Gary University Number:2013912666
Using phonemic transcription in teaching English pronunciation in schools in Hong Kong1. IntroductionToday English is the most widely taught language in the world and Hong Kong is no exception. There is no doubt that International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is widely used for phonemic transcription, which only concerns with the phonemes in a given word and is the most common type of phonetic transcription, used in many English dictionaries. There are many reasons for integrating phonetic symbols into English language teaching (ELT) curriculum so as to help the learners of English to progress to an advanced level. Meyer (2009) suggests that the development of basic English as a second language literacy can be assisted by understanding how phonemes are represented by single letters and spelling patterns since English spelling is morphophonemic. However, in Hong Kong, phonetic instruction has not been paid much attention to in daily teaching and so it is important to integrate it as far as possible.Therefore, this paper concentrates on discussing the importance of knowing and using IPA symbols for learners of English, highlighting the immense advantages and possible drawbacks of including phonemic transcription in the teaching of English pronunciation in schools in Hong Kong, and giving some suggestions on how to increase learner's motivation to use phonetic symbols briefly alongside.2. The importance of knowing and using IPA symbolsAccording Lu (2002), although students in Hong Kong are immersed in abundant English language learning resources and are living in favourable linguistic environment, especially those acoustic linguistic inputs from TV and radio programmes, students are not given ample chances to have persistent practice of pronunciation and intonation through those materials. More than that, students in Hong Kong tend to use Chinese characters with similar sounds as hints to read and memorize English words. Not only does this undesirable learning strategy distort the original pronunciation of those English words, but this can be established as a habit which is hard to be changed. In fact, the irregularity of sound combination occurs very often in English and this kind of strategy is indeed ineffective. For example, the combination of oo in 'book' and 'food' have different pronunciations. In addition, the lack of professional training in teaching phonetics of secondary English teachers also leads to the neglect of teaching and learning pronunciation of English (Education Commission, 1995).Actually, Jones (1996) states that the single most important pedagogical suggestion on teaching initial English literacy is understanding how the writing system relates to the spoken language. As a result, it is essential to learn pronunciation systematically and precisely so as to help effectively develop other language skills. Gilakjani (2011) also discovers that clear and accurate...

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