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Abstract This article seeks to provide a general overview about the importance of the teaching of pronunciation and the elements to consider as part of a language program. Likewise, it also depicts the factors that influence pronunciation on the learners and reasons why teachers neglect to deal with it. Finally, there are some suggested solutions as starting points to overcome difficulties in this area.
Key Words: Pronunciation, Phonetics, Phonology, Teaching.
Este artículo busca brindar un panorama general acerca de la importancia de la enseñanza de la pronunciación y los elementos a tener en cuenta dentro de un programa de idiomas. De igual forma, el artículo describe los factores que influencian la pronunciación de los estudiantes y las razones por las cuales los docentes son renuentes a trabajar en esta área. Por último, se proponen algunas soluciones como puntos de partida a fin de superar las dificultades en este tema.
Palabras clave: Pronunciación, Fonética, Fonología, Enseñanza.
When teaching English, speaking is part of the components of a lesson as it is with reading, listening and writing. When we talk about speaking we usually think of conversations, role plays, games, and finally pronunciation. Pronunciation is a mainstay of the accuracy focus of speaking since it deals with the most standard or “correct” way of pronouncing words in English. Many people can speak and communicate their ideas without having an ________________________________________________________________________
B.A in Philology and Languages from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Specialist in Applied Linguistics to the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language from Universidad La Gran Colombia. He has worked for different bilingual schools and Language Centers. He is currently working as a full-time professor at Universidad Manuela Beltran and parttime professor at Universidad Incca de Colombia.
pronunciation goals can focus on elements that enhance communication: intonation features that go beyond basic patterns. it is up to teachers to lead them to a successful pronunciation following the most appropriate standards. voice quality. They have to focus on clear. Below is listed some variables of them (Brown. 2. Native Language: The native language is the most influential factor affecting pronunciation. 1978. Brown (2001) argues that at the beginning levels. They might simply skip it or study it superficially. Therefore. 2001): 1. this component becomes greatly important just because our country does not have the target culture or population of the foreign language as to improve students' pronunciation. However. 55). 2001:284) rather than developing an accent-free speech. pronunciation is probably the most neglected aspect of English language teaching due to the fact that teachers lack of confidence to teach it methodically and sometimes have a complex about it (Haycraft. Age: It has always been said that children have more chances to have a native-like accent when being continuously exposed to the language in authentic contexts than adults. while teaching pronunciation. Why pronunciation? Pronunciation is as important as the other skills and sub-skills developed inside the language learning process. Moreover. comprehensible pronunciation (Brown. Current Situation There are general factors that potentially affect pronunciation. At the advanced levels. we want learners to surpass that threshold beneath which pronunciation detracts from their ability to communicate. and phonetic distinctions between registers. teachers must distinguish what will be taught at the beginning and the advanced levels. Besides. .appropriate pronunciation.
or in the worst cases. they can improve their competence. This is related to the fact that Colombia does not have a second language environment in English as Canada. Identity and language ego: Extent to which students become aware of the second identity that may be emerging within them. this does not mean that adults will never learn or acquire successfully the language. instruction in pronunciation has to be compulsory inside every language program at school and university level as well as in extension courses. The last but not least. Therefore. The effort our country has to make is enormous in order to have an appropriate proficiency oral level in English as bilingual countries do. This will enlighten teachers or course designers to have a precise horizon of what and how to do it. The factors listed above should be kept in mind by the time of exposing students to the learning of pronunciation. many teachers are reluctant to teach it deeply. it is left out possibly due to the following reasons: 1. . Besides. and some European countries. there is another major factor that greatly affects the teaching and learning of pronunciation. If pronunciation seems to be naturally difficult for some students. 6. after finishing their studies they may not attend up-dating courses. Exposure: It is related to the amount time of English instruction. with some effort and concentration. they should not despair. Motivation and concern for good pronunciation: Students with intrinsic motivation propels them towards improvement in all language skills including their pronunciation. Lack of Training: Teachers may come from educational institutions in which there was little instruction on this area. Besides.However. 5. 4. USA. Innate phonetic ability: Some people may have better phonetic coding ability than others. 3.
9).1982:2). 2000) Every component should be part of the course syllabus regarding pronunciation. they are likely to succeed at the moment of working autonomously. 3. Teachers may not be trained enough to cope with sounds and phonemic symbols. (Kelly. intonation. Nevertheless. This may occur for lack of training. Phonetics is concerned with describing the speech sounds that occur in the languages of the world (Ladefoged. linking sounds. among others. stress. analyzes the language phenomena in terms of the combination of vowels and consonants. Phonetics and Phonology It is well known for many teachers that teaching pronunciation is closely related to Phonetics and Phonology. is primarily concerned with how we interpret and systematize sounds in which vowels consonants and suprasegmental features are included (Kelly 2000.2. The following diagram depicts the features of pronunciation: Phonemes Consonants Suprasegmental Features Vowels Single Vowels Voiced Unvoiced Diphtongs Intonation Stress Short Long Word Stress Sentence Stress Diagram 1. Phonology. Complexity of the area: Pronunciation is often linked to Phonetics. pag 1. then. Low confidence: Teachers may feel afraid of teaching this area because they feel they do not have accurate pronunciation. Students may learn it . it is possible to teach pronunciation without providing the learners with phonemic alphabet or intonation patterns. Features of pronunciation. When students learn rules of how the language works. Pronunciation. Here a phonetician studies and describes how sounds are produced starting from the air releasing to the articulatory movements of the vocal tract. A phonologist. reduction. instead.
they all have to commit themselves to undertake a process of research and study in order to overcome those problems. J (1978). A course in Phonetics. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.(2001) Teaching by Principles. Besides. It is suggested to teach them if teachers want their students to work on their own in order to promote autonomous learning. Kelly. teachers and educational administrators so that responsibilities are shared and results can be seen. Teachers should be willing to keep up with the last trends of teaching pronunciation as well as the improvement of the way they speak English. Finally.Longman. This process has to be evidenced by a systematic plan that involves students. the text should also provide strategies and home activities including websites and pronunciation drills. An introduction to English Language Teaching. P(1982). Ladefoged. it is important to select a coursebook that contains an appropriate approach and application of pronunciation including phonetics and phonology perspectives through the course. Haycraft. G. How to teach pronunciation. D. . Along with teachers. What should be done Educational institutions first need to identify and accept what the problems are. Besides. (2000). Another point is the professional training of teachers’ staff. students can make generalizations about the possible pronunciation of words taking their spelling even though this can lead them to make mistakes. Students will manage to pronounce accurately without that help. during the learning process. Pearson Education.throughout the time if they are reflexive and their motivation is increased. Once students are familiar with symbols. References Brown. they can easily pronounce a new word based on the phonemic transcription given by the dictionary. when deciding on the kind of textbook to work with. Longman.