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The Sound System Of English
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The Sound System Of English


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  • 1. The Sound System of English Education 453:10
  • 2. Phonology
    • The study of the sounds of language
    • Everyone speaks with an accent
    • The phonological system of a language consists of its individual speech sounds, as well as its stress, rhythm, and intonation patterns
  • 3. Phonemes
    • The smallest unit of sound that can affect meaning in a language
    • Though the English alphabet has 26 letters, English speakers produce more than 40 sounds
  • 4. International Phonetic Alphabet
    • Most technical books for language teachers and dictionaries use phonetic symbols to represent English sounds and to describe difficulties (Our text: p. 56, 57)
    • The International Phonetic Alphabet can be used to transcribe any language (handout)
  • 5. Pronunciation Difficulties
    • Interference from the first language
    • The sounds of the first language are imprinted very early in the child’s development; however, most children are born with the vocal equipment to produce the sounds of any language
  • 6. Problems in English
    • Homographs (read and read)
    • Homophones (red and read)
    • Differs from language to language
    • http://
  • 7. Individual Sounds
    • Especially difficult sounds are th in think and its unvoiced equivalent th in then
    • Consonant clusters – spl, sks, etc.
    • Some languages have no consonant clusters; other languages use consonant clusters differently
  • 8. Stressed and Unstressed Syllables
    • The degree of force with which a syllable is uttered
    • In English words of more than one syllable, one of the syllables is uttered with stronger stress or emphasis than others (text p. 59)
    • Stress patterns are different in other languages
  • 9. Rhythm
    • English has a characteristic rhythm or stress pattern
    • In connected English speech the stresses or beats are spaced evenly through sentences… John speaks French….
    • Unstressed syllables are compressed or de-emphasized whereas in many languages, equal stress is placed on all the syllables in words
  • 10. Sentence Stress
    • In an English sentence, the words that carry the most information are stressed – content words – and the less important or grammatical function or form words are unstressed
    • ESL students may have trouble understanding speech even if they recognize words in isolation… What do you mean? Next month or necks month
  • 11. Intonation
    • English has characteristic patterns of rise and fall in pitch, and three basic levels of tone: High, Mid, and Low
    • ESL students and ELLs need focused instruction on English intonation patterns…
  • 12. Purposes of English Intonation
    • Communicate meaning
    • Communicate emotions or moods
    • Stress for emphasis
    • http:// =-toSnwSqqz0
  • 13. Teaching Pronunciation
    • Younger children who are learning English seldom need a great deal of help with pronunciation
    • Learners older than 11 or 12 are more likely to have trouble with specific words, sounds, intonation patterns… require focused instruction
  • 14. When to Teach Pronunciation
    • A student confuses or distorts specific sounds that may interfere with comprehension
    • Uses pronunciations that are stigmatized… tree for three
    • Distorts the pronunciation of words by stressing the wrong syllable
    • Uses inappropriate intonation
  • 15. How to Teach Pronunciation
    • Read aloud often
    • Read the same statement several different ways
    • Books on tape
    • Language arts software
    • Choral reading
    • Minimal pairs
  • 16. ….How to Teach Pronunciation
    • 7. Practice producing sounds
    • 8. Make up sentences
    • 9. Create posters or booklets for certain sounds
    • 10. Allow pronunciation practice
    • 11. Use pronunciation guides with older students
    • 12.Rehearse, read aloud, short passages
    • 13. Be creative…skits….
  • 17. Basic Principle
    • Understanding of sounds precedes understanding of the written word.
  • 18. Terminology
    • Phonological Awareness – the ability to break down speech into smaller segments
    • Phoneme – the smallest unit of sound
    • Phonics – a method of teaching reading that emphasizes the association of sounds with letters
  • 19. Classroom Considerations
    • Phonological awareness training – teaching the sound structure of words
      • Auditory training
    • Phonics training – teaching the connection between sounds and letters
      • Training with print
  • 20. Classroom Considerations
    • It is important to first develop oral language skills.
    • Phonological awareness skills should be taught orally without print.
    • Phonological awareness training helps children learn vocabulary and reading skills.
  • 21. Classroom Considerations
    • Phonological awareness training improves reading, vocabulary, and syntactic skills
    • Phonological awareness training can be implemented in the classroom
    • ESL students benefit from PA training
  • 22. Teaching Pronunciation Abroad