What is Phonology?

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This Power Point Presentation defines terminology and visual tools relevant to pronunciation. It also applies Second Language Acquisition Theory, providing possible explanations of why some ELLs learn English pronunciation better than others.

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  • Phonology and Phonetics deal with characteristics of sounds of a language – where and how sounds articulated (place & manner of articulation)Don’t confuse with Phonics instruction – something we had in grade school – deals with how sounds are represented in letters or writing system.
  • 26 letters in the alphabet – Linguists agree there are between 42 and 44 sounds
  • Another sound that is hard is ‘c’ – does it sound like a “k” or an “s”? Occupy becomes “ossupy”
  • Changing of following sound –did you eat yet? Causes the next
  • Examples from book of how to use?Making 2 and 3 consonant clusters easier - Leave some consonants out as we DO as native speakers – ClothesRaspberryUse assimilation – did you eat – becomes diju it – hide them becomes hi dem
  • What is Phonology?

    1. 1. What is Phonology? Presented by Mrs. Mary Acevedo, M.Ed., TESOL Phonology: o o one of the sub-fields of linguistics the study of sound systems and abstract sound units
    2. 2. Phonology is… The phonological system of a language includes :   An inventory of sounds and their features, and Rules which specify how sounds interact with each other.
    3. 3. Phonology is… Phoneme:  Smallest unit of sound that  Is a distinctive sound unit and that  Makes a difference in meaning Minimal pairs:  Two words that differ by one phoneme – “bat” /b æ t /; “pat” /p æ t/  Important instructional tool in ESL!
    4. 4. How do we learn sounds? Babies listen to sounds from native language producers (parents and sometimes teachers)  Babies internalize sounds– learn to produce   Babies can hear or produce any sound   Behavioral Learning Theory, BF Skinner: imitation Social Interactionist Theory, Piaget and others: Nature AND Nurture As children grow up brain forms “connection” and is “hard wired” for native English sounds   Nativist Theory, Noam Chomsky: SET THE PARAMETERS! Critical Period Hypothesis, Eric Lenneberg: Up until about puberty children can learn native pronunciation of any language (L1 and L2) – after that will be much more difficult (if not impossible)
    5. 5. How do we learn sounds? Second Language Learners listen to the sounds produced by their teachers.  L2 learners internalize sounds by activities involving attention and practice:  Minimal pair practice and Drilling (e.g., tongue twisters) (Contrastive Analysis)  Using visuals (studying diagrams showing points of articulation) and realia or props (touching, models of mouths, rubber bands, pieces of paper, mirrors, etc.) to focus (Attention)  Reading sentences and focusing on sounds, stress, rhythm, intonation (Ausubel)
    6. 6. Phonology consists of an inventory of sounds and their features, and the rules which specify how sounds interact with each other.  INVENTORY = the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) http://www.antimoon.com/how/pronunc-soundsipa.htm  Vowels 5 letters: a, e, i, o, u  about 20 different vowel sounds in American English   Consonants  about 24 different consonant sounds in American English
    7. 7. Phonology consists of an inventory of sounds and their features: THE INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET (IPA)--CONSONANTS
    8. 8. Phonology consists of an inventory of sounds and their features: THE INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET (IPA)--VOWELS
    9. 9. Phonology consists of an inventory of sounds and their features, and the rules which specify how sounds interact with each other. RULES =           Points of articulation (see next slide) Voiced/voiceless Blends Stops Fricatives Affricates Nasals Liquids Glides Phonemic Sequence – way in which sounds can be arranged in language (in initial, mid (medial) or final positions)
    10. 10. Consonants – Place/Manner of Articulation
    11. 11. Vowels – Place/Manner of Articulation (This is a diagram of a person’s mouth (side-view), just like the last slide is.) American English has 14 vowel sounds and 5 dipthongs
    12. 12. Pronunciation Challenges for ELLs 1. When native languages don’t have or don’t distinguish between the sounds that English distinguishes, either interference or substitution of other sounds occurs.   Interference  “eskool” for “school” = Spanish  “dussin” for “dozen” = Swedish (also Spanish has Z spelling but not the sound) Substitution  “beeble” for “people = Arabic  “flied lice” for “fried rice” = Chinese  “dem” for “them” = Most languages do not have the “th” sounds, so /d/ is produced instead of /ð/ (voiced “th”); also, “sink” is produced for “think” in languages that have no /θ/ (voiceless “th”).
    13. 13. Problem Vowels for Spanish Speakers
    14. 14. Pronunciation Challenges for ELLs 2. English has poor sound/symbol correspondence between phonology and orthography, so problems with spelling and reading will occur.– Example:     In many European languages, including Spanish, each letter has precisely one sound. This is excellent sound/symbol correspondence. However,… in English, the letter o has 4 sounds! odd, open, to, oven The sound / ʃ / can be spelled ship, sugar, station, and so on There are many examples of both vowels and consonants with this problem!
    15. 15. Pronunciation Challenges for ELLs 3. Lack of cultural knowledge to master semantics and pragmatics  Registers  formal (written – correct – long forms)  informal (spoken)   Reductions  going to “gonna” Contractions  NOTE: Contractions don’t occur in every language! Changing a sound  Did you eat yet?  “Jeet yet?”   will not  “won’t”
    16. 16. Phonology - Implications for Instruction What can we learn from SLA Theory?  Attention Theories: Teachers and students who have Phonological Awareness and understand that students will not readily be able to pronounce words that don’t exist in their languages will not be frustrated.  Students don’t have to memorize IPA, but discussions about sounds are important.  Critical Period Hypothesis: They may never have native-like pronunciation.  Affective Filter Hypothesis: Control classroom behavior – no teasing!
    17. 17. Phonology - Implications for Instruction What can we learn from SLA Theory?  Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis: Teach students the difference between English and their native languages. Focus on place/manner of articulation and demonstrate how sounds are produced.  “Dangerous English” – A foreign accent may cause embarrassment if a mispronunciation results in a “dangerous” word– obscene or vulgar language. Sometimes it’s hard for an ELL to distinguish the “long e” sound from the “short i” sound. That’s OK if the student mixes up ship and sheep, but it’s not OK if the student mixes up sheet and shit. Close your eyes and imagine your sweet, 4th grade ELL asking you for 4 shits of paper!– Time for major behavior management after that mistake!!
    18. 18. Phonology - Implications for Instruction What can we learn from SLA Theory? ERROR CORRECTION:  See handout in folder. Think of how the SLA theories influence when, how, and whether errors should be corrected.

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