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[INTRODUCTION TO LINGUISTICS TSL 3101] By: Ahmad Muzakkir bin Mohamad & Aizuddin bin Rojalai Question 2(b)

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Humans have different pronunciations and languages. Since English holds the status of an international language, there are some problems faced by non-native speakers of English with their pronunciations. Rivers (1986: 125) said that people are having great difficulties in understanding what native speakers are trying to say, not because of their lack of knowledge in vocabulary but because the sounds they produce seemed strange and the voice rose and fell in unexpected places. This emphasizes the solid fact that most of people who are learning English encounter some problems with their pronunciation. Thus, what are the problem areas faced by non-native speakers of English with pronunciation and ways to overcome these problems? First and foremost, the most common problem is mother tongue interference. As we all know, every language in this world has different accents and varieties. The ways we speak show our identity for example phonemic differences between languages. According to Whorfian Hypothesis, language is part of our culture and it is inevitable that there must be mother tongue interference, which is native language influence, in the pronunciation of the particular language. As a Malaysian, we do have difficulties in some English words and sounds which are not found in our mother tongue that is Malay language. For instance, the phonemes / / and / / do not exist in Malay language and that is why people in Malaysia encounter pronunciation difficulties with the words that include those sounds. The example of words that use / / and / / sounds are mother, that, thing and so on. This is all due to the influence of mother tongue.

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In addition, the next problem faced by non-native English speakers is due to phonemic differences between languages. All languages have their own phonemics differences. According to Sapir and Whorf, peoples view of the world influences their language and people adopt the view of the world around them through experiences and categories of their language. For example, in Chinese the phoneme /i/ exists but whether the vowel is too long or short does not make any difference in meaning, while the English phonemes /i:/ and /i/ differs a lot in meaning as in the word sheep and ship. The result is that some of the Chinese learners are not naturally aware of the difference in English phonemics. They may not even notice that differences the phonemes in English language. That is why all languages have their own phonemic that shows differences between languages. Besides that, stress factor in the English language has also become a problem faced by English non native speakers. Usually, non native speakers make mistakes in the stress of words and rhythm of sentences unlike many other languages. English requires the stress of one syllable in each word more than others. For many people, especially non-native speakers whose pronunciations are hard to understand, the misplaced stress of syllable is one of the main problems. A change in stress pattern of a word will change the meaning as well. According to (Ehrlich, 1987:10) Turkish learners of English language have some problems with stress and intonation. Since Turkish is a tonic language, they think that if they speak or pronounce the words with a strong stress, they will be better understood. For example, the word subject has the stress on the first syllable when it is a noun, stress on the second syllable when it is a verb, and this make a noticeable difference to the sound of the vowels as well as the meaning of the word. However, people may

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stress on whatever word of a sentence without the knowledge of which words should be stressed. Every problem has its own solution. To overcome the first problem that is mother tongue interference, we should use instant remedial technique. According to a book that is, (Hubbard 1983: 209-210), this is the best technique to deal with the problems of individual sounds. This technique consists of four parts; imitation, demonstration, association and explanation. For example, first of all, a teacher draws attention to the unwanted sound or pronounces to be imitated by the students. If it is not sufficient, then the teacher shows the students how the sound is formed by putting their tongue between their teeth and try to produce / / and / / by using demonstration part. However, certain sounds are not easily made visible, so the teacher may adopt the process of association. In this process, sounds must be isolated and attention must be drawn to the similarities between two sounds in term of whether they are voiced, lateral, and dental. Finally, explanation may help teacher to explain using the mother tongue if necessary on how the sound is formed and give instruction to the students to move their tongue and lips. These are what we call instant remedial technique. Furthermore, to overcome phonemic differences between languages, we must use words association drill. As Rochmis and Doob mentioned in their book (1970: 29), achieving lightness of utterance and mobility of tongue at conversational speech is a very important aspect of drilling. This method is to help English language learners and give the easiest way for learners to practice on the specific sounds. At the same time, this method will also focus on the phonemes // and /e/ and after that the teacher may ask the learners for antonyms of the certain words, for example sick and sit. The learners would respond with the words well and stand. In this type of

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drill, it is useful to call the students attention to the fact that the words they will select all contain the // and /e/ phonemes. Last but not least, in order to overcome the problem of stress factor in the English language, we need to use initial teaching technique. This technique is essential to basic communication such as stress and intonation, the difference of fall or rise in spoken questions and answers. This method has been used by (Demirezen 1986: 108-125) who stated that he symbolizes the sustained, rising and falling intonation with the arrow signs such as up, down, right and give some examples and activities during the teaching and learning process in the classroom. He also uses the right sign for incomplete sentence or statement, up sign for yes or no questions in statement forms and interrogative forms. Lastly, down sign is used for questions with or, in giving commands and declarative statement. The example of sentence for right sign is; She is a nice girl. This sign shows that this is a statement. For the Are you interested in music? This sign is

up sign, the example of sentence is;

suitable for sentences like yes no questions in statement forms and interrogative forms. Finally is the down sign. The example of sentence that uses the down sign is; Do you want an apple or orange? This sign is only suitable for sentences like questions with or word. In a nut shell, in order to learn English language perfectly like native speakers of English, we should pay attention to the important of the English language pronunciation. Based on the problems and ways to overcome that have been stated above, we can use and apply it to help us pronounce the words of a particular accurately. Therefore, English should be studied in the early stages in order to eliminate all the problems affecting the pronunciation of the learners. The techniques that have been mentioned above must be applied during the teaching and learning

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process. As the result, language teachers must be aware of these techniques and methods. We must be bear in mind that teachers are the models for their learners, so they first must have good pronunciation, otherwise they will affect their students.

[INTRODUCTION TO LINGUISTICS TSL 3101] Bibliography

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Finegan, E. (2012). Stress. In E. Finegan, Language: Its Structure and Use (pp. 130131). United States of America: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Fromkin, V. (2011). Phonetics: The Sounds of Language. In V. Fromkin, An Introduction to Language (pp. 189-220). Canada: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Kistler, M. (2008, January 1). Helping Japanese Students Overcome Common Pronunciation Problems Caused by Katakana English. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from The Internet TESL Journal: http://iteslj.org.Lessons/KistlerKatakana.html

Knowles, G. 1987. Patterns of Spoken English: An Introduction to English Phonetics. London: Longman.

Rivers, W.M. 1968. Teaching Foreign Language Skills, (2nd ed.) Chicago: Chicago U.P.

Rochmis, L. and D.Doob. 1970. Speech Therapy. New York: The John Day Company.

Senel, M. (2006). Suggestions for Beautifying the Pronunciation of EFL Learners in Turkey. Journal of Language and Linguistics Studies , 111-125.

Zhang, F. (2009). A Study of Pronunciation Problems of English Learners in China. Asian Social Science , 141-146.

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