Bringing Pronunciation Into Every Class (Revised 2010) Brock Brady WITH THANKS AND APPRECIATION TO KAREN TAYLOR AND SHIRLEY THOMPSON.
Please, Activate Your Background Knowledge 1. When you've learned/used additional language as an adult, how important has pronunciation been to you and your confidence in using the language? 2. What kind of pronunciation instruction did you have? 3. Generally, when someone is teaching pronunciation what activities do they carry out? 4. In your classes, when you address pronunciation, what do you address and how? 5. How confident do you feel about teaching pronunciation? Why? 6. If a Peruvian student says "River Amazon" is the cause grammar or pronunciation? Then--if you address the error "River Amazon," does it make more sense to address it as a grammar or a pronunciation problem?
What pronunciation features would you address with this student?
Basic Understandings about Pronunciation for Students Intelligibility: I can understand okay, but it takes effort Comprehensibility: I can understand you easily, you are fluent and it is not hard to understand you. Please note though, that comprehensibility is a construct that depends on both the speaker and the listener. NB: I’M TORN ON THIS.
Everyone Has An Accent You don’t need to fix your accent. Your accent is fine, but you may need to work on being understood. Accent is often as much a factor of grammar, world choice, and cultural assumptions as it is pronunciation. Many find accents charming! I don’t have a French accent, but the French rarely make a fuss about not understanding me.
We need to understand a variety of accents, but only to produce one So look for opportunities to introduce a variety of different accents for in class listening. Remember, in some ways, listening is part of pronunciation. As with “missing” phonemes, if you can’t hear it, you probably can’t produce it (at least without some instructional assistance).
Accommodation Theory If I want to be accepted by you, if I want to be seen as a member of the group/community, I will try to make my communication CONVERGE to your norm. If I find aspect of your community (or language) unpleasant, I will make little effort to converge, in fact I may intentionally DIVERGE from your norm.
So what if you don’t like the way that “other” language users sound? First, you might not be consciously aware of it. However you may resist sounding like “them” generally Americans may find French sounds “effeminate,” German (or Arabic) sounds “harsh and guttural,” or that “Korean women sound whiny,” but Korean women may feel American women seem “loud and vulgar.” We are obliged to alert students to such biases.
THE MOST BANG FOR THE BUCK Focusing First on Suprasegmentals
Question of Focus and Priority—Esp. in classes NOT dedicated to pronunciation. vowels consonants Segmentals intonation linking stress reductions rhythm pausing Suprasegmental skills Social conventions Non-verbal communication L1/ L2 identities Social-affective factors
Most unstressed vowels go to “ә”. (“ә” has the sound of “uh.”) ____ __ ___ ____ Most әnstressed vowәls gә tә schwa. It's ‘mport'nt!
Know how syl•la•ble-timed and streeess-timed languages are different.
What should L2 users do (and not do) when they aren’t understood? What could be more important? Pause more Use gestures Enunciate carefully Literally spell out the phrase Confirmed that they’ve been understood. Remind themselves that-- often it’s not you but the context better to be understood than not embarrassed but also not understood
One of the easiest ways to get students to feel the lengthening of stress syllables is to use (thick) rubber bands You stretch the rubber band on the stressed syllables and relax it on unstressed syllables.
Stress problems produce much incomprehensibility. Even when learners have acquired the awareness of stress-timing, they may try to produce stress primarily through or VOLUME. intonation
Techniques for marking stressed and unstressed syllables and intontation Dots = unstressed syllables and lines = stressed syllables
Look for Chunks! It is useful, especially for beginners, to teach useful conventional expressions; e.g., I’d like to… Could you tell me.. Thank you for… On the other hand… As “chunks” of language which learners can pronounce correctly as chunks and which they can “preform” when they are speaking. AND, stress patterns change in chunks: 20, 25, 8:25
If you’re unsure about an intonation pattern, especially if you’re a man, fall in intonation at the end of an idea.
If you don’t go down in intonation when expected, you may sound weak, indecisive, incompetent, or .
Unless you have a pause, always try to link words together-- especially if a word begins or ends with a vowel sound. Get it? MARKING LINKINGACTIVITY SHOWN NEXT
Failure to link or blend results in… If students fail to blend speech they will sound choppy. In fact, if they do not blend they put a little glottal stop(a little burp of air made in the very back of your throat) between each word.
A WARNING ABOUT “LISTEN AND REPEAT” If a learner is having trouble pronouncing a word or phrase, you can kindly model it and have the learner try to repeat up to three times. If they haven’t got it in three tries, they won’t get it at that time. So stop, tell the learner that it’s okay, s/he’ll get it later, and move on
Remember, if you don’t hear a phonemic distinction like /l/ vs. /r/ and you’re an adult, you likely never will. NOTE: You canlearn how to articulate these “unhearable” distinctions and memorize what articulation goes with what word, but that still doesn’t mean (in most of these cases) that you will really hear the difference! What are some ways we can model articulation of sounds our students can’t hear?
Exaggeration is Good When we need to change how we pronounce something, because it is hard to change pronunciation habits, we many times have to exaggerate the change we are trying to make. Exaggeration helps us “make sure” we are doing it right. Then typically with time, once we control the feature better, we are able to “dial back” little by little until we can produce the feature without exaggeration
“BACKBUILDING” If someone is having trouble pronouncing a multisyllabic word or a phrase, they can sometimes manage to produce it by starting with the final syllable and “backbuilding” to the front, roughly syllable by syllable, until they have the entire utterance. For example, listen to me backbuild, “I’d like to order a bottle of wine.”
BackbuildingPracticeExpressions Academic Words Discourse Markers Application Be that as it may Unsophisticated Studies have shown that Advocacy As we saw previously Cylindrical Industriousness Common Expressions Fluctuation What have you been up to lately? Colleagially Don’t mention it. It’s nice to meet you.
4. Pair difficult words with words (or spellings) they CAN pronounce Delivery (dEE liv (as in “it”) vr EE Awry sounds like Question (Kwestion) A use (youce); to use (youz) (See handout—also other representational methods)
Make sure students have solid pronunciation skills for the basics Alphabet Numbers Common first and last names