Tải bản đầy đủ

Improving english pronunciation for the first year students of english major at hanoi open university

HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF ENGLISH

Code : 18

----------

GRADUATION THESIS
B.A DEGREE IN ENGLISH STUDIES

IMPROVING ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION FOR THE FIRST
YEAR STUDENTS OF ENGLISH MAJOR AT HANOI OPEN
UNIVERSITY

Supervisor

: Nguyen Thi Kim Chi,M.A

Student

: Vu Van Huy


Date of birth : 06/11/1994
Course

: 1271A04 (2012-2016)

Hanoi, 2016


DECLARATION
I hereby declare that this thesis and the work presented in it are my own and
has been generated by me as the result of my own original written and under
strict guidance of my supervisor.
The title: Improving English pronunciation for the 1st year students of English
major at Hanoi Open University
Hanoi, April 15th,2016

Student
Signature

Supervisor
Signature

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This graduation thesis would never have been able to finish without the
guidance of my lovely supervisor, help from friends and support from my parents.
Firstly, I would love to express my deepest gratitude to my supervisor, MA
Nguyen Thi Kim Chi, for her excellent guidance, caring and patience, and
providing me with a good condition for doing research, from whom I have
received valuable comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank M.A. Vu
Tuan Anh, Who gave me some excellent ideas, and lent me some useful books to
help me finish this graduation thesis.
Secondly, I would like to thank to faculty of English, Hanoi Open University
for giving me permission to commence this thesis in the first instance and to do
the necessary research work.
Thirdly, I want to show my appreciation to participants, including K22, the
first year students of English major at Hanoi Open University, who provided me

with valuable assistance in collecting data.
Last but not least, my gratefulness goes to my parents, who have been
supporting me, especially my mother, She was always cheering me up and stand
by me through the good and bad times.

ii


TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION .................................................................................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................. ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS ..................................................................................... iii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS............................................................................... v
LIST OF TABLES AND FIRGURES ................................................................ vi
PART A:INTRODUCTION ................................................................................. 1
1. Rationale ........................................................................................................... 1
2. Aims of the study ............................................................................................. 2
3. Scope of the study ............................................................................................ 2
4. Research questions ........................................................................................... 2
5. Method of the study .......................................................................................... 3
6. Design of the study ........................................................................................... 3
PART B DEVELOPMENT .................................................................................. 4
CHAPTER 1- LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................ 4
1.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................... 4
1.2 Pronunciation .................................................................................................... 6
1.2.1What is the definition of pronunciation ....................................................... 6
1.2.2 Main features of English pronunciation ..................................................... 8
1.2.2.1 Consonants ......................................................................................... 12
1.2.2.2 Vowels ................................................................................................ 14
1.2.2.3 Intonation............................................................................................ 17
1.2.2.4 Word stress ......................................................................................... 19
1.3 The importance of English pronunciation ....................................................... 23
1.3.1 Teachers’ perception about the importance of pronunciation .................. 23
1.3.2 Students’ perception about the importance of pronunciation learning..... 24
1.4 Difficulty for Vietnamese learners when pronouncing English ..................... 25
1.5 Summary ......................................................................................................... 27
CHAPTER 2: PROBLEMS MET BY THE FIRST YEAR STUDENTS OF
ENGLISH MAJOR IN PRACTICING ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION ..... 28
2.1 Data collection................................................................................................. 28
2.1.1 Data analysis ............................................................................................. 28
2.1.1.1 Participant’s attitude towards English pronunciation ........................ 29
2.1.1.2 Pronunciation problems of the first year students ................................. 31
2.1.1.2.1 English pronunciation ability of the 1st year English majors at HOU
........................................................................................................................ 31
2.1.1.2.2 Word stress ...................................................................................... 32
2.1.1.2.3 Intonation......................................................................................... 33
iii


2.1.1.2.4 English final consonant ................................................................... 34
2.1.1.2.5 Linking sounds ................................................................................ 35
2.1.1.3 Causes leading to the first year English majors’ problems about English
pronunciation. .................................................................................................... 36
2.1.1.3.1 Wrong methods of self-study .......................................................... 37
2.1.1.3.2 Big differences between English and Vietnamese language .......... 37
2.1.1.3.3 Influence of Vietnamese mother tongue ......................................... 40
2.1.1.3.4 Psychology factor of shyness ........................................................ 41
2.1.1.3.5 Teaching methods .......................................................................... 41
2.1.1.3.6 Lacking of time practicing pronunciation at home ......................... 42
2.2 Summary ......................................................................................................... 43
CHAPTER 3 SOME SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS HELP THE FIRST YEAR
ENGLISH MAJORS IMPROVE THEIR ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION . 44
3.1 Practice hearing the sounds of English ........................................................ 44
3.2 Pay attention to word and sentence stress ................................................... 45
3.3 Be aware of intonation ................................................................................. 48
3.4 Practice linking sounds together and connected speech .............................. 50
3.5 Work out which sounds cause most difficult in pronouncing ..................... 54
3.6 Read out loud and recording ........................................................................ 56
3.7 Summary ...................................................................................................... 57
PART C:CONCLUSION.................................................................................... 58
REFERENCES .................................................................................................... 60
APPENDIX .......................................................................................................... 62

iv


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ESL : English as a second language
EFL : English is spoken as a second language
IC : Inner circle
OC : Outer circle
EC : Expanding circle
HOU : Hanoi Open University

v


LIST OF TABLES AND FIRGURES
TABLES
Table 1 Expression of emotions when speaking English...................................... 33
Table 2 Student’s ability of linking sounds in English ......................................... 35
FIGURES
Figure 1: The importance of having good English pronunciation ........................ 29
Figure 2: The participants concern about English pronunciation and try to reach it
............................................................................................................................... 30
Figure 3 English pronunciation ability of the 1st year students of English major 31
Figure 4 Frequency of paying attention to word stress of the first year students . 32
Figure 5 Ability of pronouncing English final consonant sounds ........................ 34
Figure 6 Reasons leading to the student’s incorrect pronunciation ...................... 36
Figure 7 Habit of pronouncing English like Vietnamese sounds ......................... 40
Figure 8 Amount of time students practice their English pronunciation at home 42

vi


PART A
INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale
Pronunciation regarded as the most important and difficult micro-skill of the
four skills in English language learning. Most non-native students of English face
a lot of difficulties when they try to speak English and sometimes get frustrated
when they could not understand or be understand by native English speakers.
English is a stressed language, and this means that more attention should be
paid to where you put the stress in a word or sentence, rather than the number of
syllables .Most of the time, students who have trouble using the right stress and
intonation speak native languages with very different rules.
Students of English as a second language know so well how important
pronunciation is. Nevertheless, sometimes it has been obvious that a student has
been paid little attention to their English pronunciation in the process of second
language learning. Celce & Goodain (1991) states that over the past years, there
have been different views about the value of teaching pronunciation in language
teaching and they reported that the cognitive approach and grammar translation
reading based method which used by teachers attach no importance to
pronunciation.
Many people learning English language often do not pay much attention to
their pronunciation. Even worse, some of them underestimate it. They think that
pronunciation is less important than grammar and vocabulary. In fact,
Pronunciation reflects your English speaking ability. Many cases of
misunderstanding in communication were caused by the mispronouncing of
words or the improper intonation.
It has been realized the fact that most of English students who study English at
Hanoi Open University have different background, they come from another
provinces where their high school did not really teach them English pronunciation
except for English grammar. As a senior English major student, I realized how
the first year student try their best to reach their specific goal to speak English
better and to sound more naturally and more like native English speaker. In
addition, the first year student should be a perfect time to train their
1


pronunciation. Experts argue that pronunciation should be introduced by teachers
in all their lessons, and teachers themselves should make learners aware of its
importance (Gilakjani,2011). Yates and Zielinski (2009) found that pronunciation
is a very difficult aspect of English to learn, but it seems that teaching
pronunciation from the very beginning helps learners to be intelligible .Therefore,
I would like to do a research with a wish to improve the freshman’s English
pronunciation that they can speak English natural, confident and like a native
speaker. The research entitled “Improving English pronunciation for the first
year students of English major at Hanoi Open University”
2. Aims of the study
This study is an attempt to:
 Investigate the attitudes of the first year student at Faculty of English,
Hanoi Open University towards the importance of English pronunciation.
 Figure out some problems faced by the freshman during their studying
English pronunciation, their habits to study English pronunciation
 Give some solutions and suggestions to help them step by step learning
English pronunciation so that they can improve their speaking skills.
3. Scope of the study
In this research, I would like to focus on the problems of the first year English
majors might meet when they learn English pronunciation, finding out the reality
of learning English pronunciation to them. Although I am well aware that the
survey statistics are not fully representative of all English major students at other
universities in Vietnam, I hope to propose some of the most popular facts that
occurring in study.
4. Research questions
The research has been following these questions below:
 What are attitudes of the first year English major students toward to English
pronunciation?
 What are the problems faced by the first year students faculty of English at
Hanoi Open University?
 What are some practical solutions and suggestions to help them overcome
their problems?

2


5. Method of the study
To achieve the main aim and objectives of the study, Survey questionnaire and
interview methods have been applied. The information from questionnaires can
help to draw a picture about the reality of learning English pronunciation. I am
allowed to be in a class of K22 (the first year students) to interview the attitudes
of the students while they are studying in an English pronunciation lesson. Also,
Analysis method is used to finalize the difficulties faced by the freshman at
faculty of English in terms of their attitudes, language and cultural knowledge
when joining in everyday conversation. Statistic technique is also applied to
calculate the results collected from survey questionnaire in order to figure out
some specific problems and solutions to the students.
6. Design of the study
The study is divided into three main parts as follows:
 Part A: Introduction, which reveals the rationales, the objectives, the research
questions, the method and the design of the study. It also expresses reason
why I decided to choose this subject.
 Part B: Development
+ Chapter 1 is intended to give theoretical background related to English
pronunciation, the definition of pronunciation, some main features of
pronunciation and the importance of English pronunciation.
+ Chapter 2 provides an analysis on the situation of learning English
pronunciation of the first year students of English major at faculty of English,
HOU. Therefore, the author could find out some specific difficulties and
problems of the students faced during learning English pronunciation.
+ Chapter 3 focuses on the solutions and suggestions to help the students
overcome their problems.
 Part C: Conclusion gives a brief summary of the whole study.

3


PART B DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1 LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter reveals the theoretical background of English pronunciation which is
of great importance to study, the importance of pronunciation learning, and the
difficulty for Vietnamese learners pronouncing English.
1.1 Introduction
English as a Second Language (ESL) the necessity for, and method of, teach
English pronunciation has become a controversial topic. Many second language
learners have varied opinions on the importance of including pronunciation
practice within their lesson plans.
The most important part of learning a second language rests on pronunciation
(Pennington, 1996); thus speaking is so important in acquiring and using a
language (Dan, 2006). Dan claims that language competence covers many
aspects. Phonetics both in theory and practice constitute the basis of speaking
above all other aspects of language and pronunciation is the foundation of
speaking. Good pronunciation may make the communication easier, more relaxed
and more useful.
Pronunciation is the foundation of speaking. English, both written and
spoken, has been accepted as the dominant means of communication for most of
the world but some misunderstandings have been caused by inappropriate
pronunciation (Yong, 2004). Poor pronunciation can condemn learners to less
social, academic and work advancement than they deserved (Fraser, 1999, 2000).
Good pronunciation can make the communication easier and more relaxed and
thus more successful (Dan, 2006).Almost all learners rate pronunciation as
priority and an area in which they need more guidance (Willing, 1993),
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1997). Although the study of foreign accents has
always been a fascination for some researchers, the teaching of pronunciation and
oral skills in general in foreign and second language classrooms has often been
low on the list of priorities (Peterson, 2000).
In search Language Center concerning Productive Skills in the Academic
English Curriculum showed that the main focus of the current academic English
curriculum leaves little room for pronunciation work. There are two reasons for
4


this. First of all, the importance of good writing ability in academic English, the
students learn that writing is considered more important than other skills as it is
weighted more in most tertiary institutions in Australia. Teachers spend more
time working on students’ grammar and writing skills in order that students are
best prepared for examinations. The time factor is the second important factor
which causes students to leave little time for pronunciation in the classroom
(Germana ECKERT, 2003).
Pronunciation is a very important factor in the speech process, when the
speaker achieves the goal to communicate effectively by being understood. The
speech process is a process that involves several stages, beginning with speaker’s
ideas and ending with the understanding of those ideas by the listener (Dauer,
1993).
Dauer (1993:8) states that the speaker thinks decides what he or she is going
to say and puts the ideas into words and sentences of a particular language. The
speaker’s brain the transforms the words and sentences into nerve impulses that it
sends to the muscles in the speech organs. The speaker’s speech organ moves.
The lungs push air up through the larynx and into mouth and nose. The air is
shaped by the tongue and lips and comes out of the speaker’s mouth as sound
waves. The sound travels through the air. Sometimes, the sound is changed back
into sound waves by an electronic speaker. The listener hears the sounds when the
sound waves hit his or her ear. The ear changes the sound waves into nerve
impulses and sends them to the brain. The listener understands the message. The
listener’s brain identifies specific speech sounds, interprets them as words and
sentences of a particular language, and figures out their meaning. The importance
of good pronunciation starts from the process of the speech organs move
(pronunciation) which is related to the proficiency of the speakers until the
sounds travels through the air.
Learners with good English pronunciation are likely to be understood even if
they make errors in other areas, whereas learners with bad pronunciation will not
be understood, even if their grammar is perfect. Such learners may avoid
speaking in English, and experience social isolation, employment difficulties and
limited opportunities for further study. We judge people by the way they speak,
and so learners with poor pronunciation may be judged as incompetent,
5


uneducated or lacking in knowledge. Yet many learners find pronunciation one of
the most difficult aspects of English to acquire, and need explicit help from the
teacher. Therefore, some sort of pronunciation instruction in class is necessary.
The goals of this paper are to define English pronunciation, review the history of
English pronunciation instruction, explain the aim of English pronunciation
instruction, elaborate pronunciation and communication, review the previous
research about the effectiveness of pronunciation instruction on learners'
achievement, and discuss the English pronunciation and the target of comfortable
intelligibility.
1.2 Pronunciation
1.2.1What is the definition of pronunciation
Pronunciation is the most important thing that we have to master.
Otherwise, people cannot receive the message we say. According to Penny Ur
(2001), Jack C. Richard (2002), Pronunciation is the sound of the language, or
phonology; stress and rhythm; and intonation and includes the role of individual
sounds and segmental and supra segmental sounds. Moreover, Otlowski (2004:1)
stated that Pronunciation is a way that is accepted or generally understood. From
those statements above, we can conclude that pronunciation is the way of
someone produces segmental and supra segmental sound that is accepted or
generally understood.
Pronunciation refers to the production of sounds that we use to make
meaning. It includes attention to the particular sounds of a language (segments),
aspects of speech beyond the level of the individual sound, such as intonation,
phrasing, stress, timing, rhythm (suprasegmental aspects), how the voice is
projected (voice quality) and, in its broadest definition, attention to gestures and
expressions that are closely related to the way we speak a language.
A broad definition of pronunciation includes both suprasegmental and
segmental features. Although these different aspects of pronunciation are treated
in isolation here, it is important to remember that they all work in combination
when we speak, and are therefore usually best learned as an integral part of
spoken language.
Traditional approaches to pronunciation have often focused on segmental
aspects, largely because these relate in some way to letters in writing, and are
6


therefore the easiest to notice and work on. More recent approaches to
pronunciation, however, have suggested that the suprasegmental aspects of
pronunciation may have the most effect on intelligibility for some speakers.
Usually learners benefit from attention to both aspects, and some learners may
need help in some areas more than in others. This overview starts with
suprasegmental features. One considerable practical advantage of focusing on
suprasegmental is that learners from mixed L1 backgrounds in the same class will
benefit, and will often find that their segmental difficulties improve at the same
time.
Pronunciation training includes micro-level skill (accuracy-based learning),
macro-level skill (fluency-based learning) and awareness-raising classroom
activities. At the micro-level skill, learners should be trained both in segmental (a
study of sounds) and suprasegmental features (training in stress, intonation,
rhythm, linking) (Morley, 1979, 1991; Gilbert 1984 and Wong, 1987). CelceMurcia, Brinton and Goodwin (1996), Gilbert (1990), and Morley (1991)
describe segmentals as the basic inventory of distinctive sounds and show the
way that they combine to form a spoken language. In the case of North American
English, this inventory comprises 40 phonemes (15 vowels and 25 consonants),
which are the basic sounds that serve to distinguish words from one another.
Pronunciation instruction has often concentrated on the mastery of segmentals
through discrimination and production of target sounds via drills consisting of
minimal pairs.
Segmentals and suprasegmentals transcend the level of individual sound
production and are produced unconsciously by native speakers. But
suprasegmentals extend across segmentals. Since suprasegmental elements
provide crucial context and support (they determine meaning) for segmental
production, they are given a more prominent place in pronunciation instruction.
Suprasegmentals include stress, rhythm, adjustments in connected speech,
prominence, and intonation. Stress is a combination of length, loudness, and pitch
applied to syllables in a word e.g. HAPpy, FOOTball. Rhythm is the regular,
patterned beat of stressed and unstressed syllables and pauses e.g. with weak
syllables in lower case and stressed syllables in upper case: they WANT to GO
later.

7


Adjustment in connected speech is modification of sounds within and
between words in streams of speech.
-For example : I will ask her / ai wil ask hər/ becomes /ai wil aes hər/
Prominence is the speaker’s act of highlighting words to emphasise meaning or
intend.
-For example: Can I have a look the BLACK one (not the white one)
Intonation is the rising and falling of voice pitch across phrases and sentences
-For example: Are you REAdy?
There are, also, strong differences in inflection, stress and intonation among
the various regional varieties of English e.g. American, Australian, Indian, and
local UK dialects. Internationally, English teachers refer in their teaching to the
sounds, stress and intonation of The International Phonetic Association (IPA).
Speech can be broken down into pronunciation and intonation, accuracy and
fluency or can be categorised in terms of strategies or it can be regarded as a form
of interaction and analysed using the methods of pragmatics or discourse analysis.
This means that the accurate speaker may communicate effectively (Skehan,
1998). It should include all aspects of English pronunciation and the goal of
pronunciation teaching is to foster communicative effectiveness (Wong, 1987).
1.2.2 Main features of English pronunciation
English pronunciation involves far more than individual sounds. Word stress,
sentence stress, intonation, and word linking all influence the sound of spoken
English, not to mention the way we often slur words and phrases together in
casual speech. “What are you going to do?” becomes “ Whatddaya gonna do?”
English pronunciation involves a lot of complexities for learners to strive for a
complete elimination of accent, but improving pronunciation will boost self
esteem, facilitate communication, and possibly lead to a better job or at least more
respect in the workplace. Effective communication is of greatest importance, so
choose first to work on problems that significantly hinder communication and let
the rest go. Remember that your students also need to learn strategies for dealing
with misunderstandings, since native pronunciation is for most an unrealistic
goal.
8


A student's first language often interferes with English pronunciation. For
example, /p/ is aspirated in English but not in Spanish, so when a Spanish speaker
pronounces 'pig' without a puff of air on the /p/, an American may hear 'big'
instead. Sometimes the students will be able to identify specific problem sounds
and sometimes they won't. You can ask them for suggestions, but you will also
need to observe them over time and make note of problem sounds. Another
challenge resulting from differences in the first language is the inability to hear
certain English sounds that the native language does not contain. Often these are
vowels, as in 'ship' and 'sheep,' which many learners cannot distinguish. The
Japanese are known for confusing /r/ and /l/, as their language contains neither of
these but instead has one sound somewhere between the two. For problems such
as these, listening is crucial because students can't produce a sound they can't
hear. Descriptions of the sound and mouth position can help students increase
their awareness of subtle sound differences.
- Some specific pronunciation features :
Voicing
Voiced sounds will make the throat vibrate. For example, /g/ is a voiced sound
while /k/ is not, even though the mouth is in the same position for both sounds.
Have your students touch their throats while pronouncing voiced and voiceless
sounds. They should feel vibration with the voiced sounds only.
Aspiration
Aspiration refers to a puff of air when a sound is produced. Many languages have
far fewer aspirated sounds than English, and students may have trouble hearing
the aspiration. The English /p/, /t/, /k/, and /ch/ are some of the more commonly
aspirated sounds. Although these are not always aspirated, at the beginning of a
word they usually are.
Mouth Position
Draw simple diagrams of tongue and lip positions. Make sure all students can
clearly see your mouth while you model sounds.
Intonation

9


Word or sentence intonation can be mimicked with a kazoo, or alternatively by
humming. Intonation is variation of spoken pitch that is not used to distinguish
words; instead it is used for a range of functions such as indicating the attitudes
and emotions of the speaker, signaling the difference between statements and
questions, and between different types of questions, focusing attention on
important elements of the spoken message and also helping to regulate
conversational interaction.
Linking
We pronounce phrases and even whole sentences as one smooth sound instead of
a series of separate words. 'Will Amy go away,' is rendered 'Willaymeegowaway.'
To help learners link words, try starting at the end of a sentence and have them
repeat a phrase, adding more of the sentence as they can master it. For example,
'gowaway,' then 'aymeegowaway,' and finally 'Willaymeegowaway' without any
pauses between words.
Vowel length
You can demonstrate varying vowel lengths within a word by stretching rubber
bands on the longer vowels and letting them contract on shorter ones. Then let the
students try it. For example, the word 'fifteen' would have the rubber band
stretched for the 'ee' vowel, but the word 'fifty' would not have the band stretched
because both of its vowels are spoken quickly.
Syllables
Illustrate syllable stress by clapping softly and loudly corresponding to the
syllables of a word. For example, the word 'beautiful' would be loud-soft-soft.
Practice with short lists of words with the same syllabic stress pattern ('beautiful,'
'telephone,' 'Florida') and then see if learners can list other words with that
pattern.
Specific Sounds
Minimal pairs, or words such as 'bit/bat' that differ by only one sound, are useful
for helping students distinguish similar sounds. They can be used to illustrate

10


voicing ('curl/girl') or commonly confused sounds ('play/pray'). Remember that
it's the sound and not the spelling you are focusing on.
Tongue twisters are useful for practicing specific target sounds, plus they're fun.
Make sure the vocabulary isn't too difficult.
According to Gerald Kelly on How to teach pronunciation (2007), he
mentioned the main features of English pronunciation as follow:

Phonemes are the different sounds within a language. Although there are
slight different in how individuals articulate sounds. When considering meaning,
we see how using one sound rather than another can change the meaning of word.
It is this principle which gives us the total number of phonemes in a particular
language. For example, the word hat has the phonemes /hæt/. If we change the
middle phoneme, it will become / hɒt/, which is different word.
Sounds may be voiced or unvoiced. Voiced sounds occur when the vocal
cords in the larynx are vibrated. It is easy to tell whether a sound is voiced or not
by placing one or two fingers on your Adam’s apple. If you are producing a
voiced sound, you will not. The different between /f/ and /v/, can be heard by
putting your top teeth on your bottom lip, breathing out in a continuous stream to

11


produce /f/, then adding your voice to make /v/. Hold your Adam’s apple while
doing this, and you will feel the vibration.
Phonemes consist of two categories: Vowel sounds and consonant sounds.
However, these do not necessarily correspond to the vowels and consonants we
are familiar with in the alphabet. Vowel sounds are all voiced, and may be single,
or a combination, involving a movement from one vowel sound to another; such
combination are known as diphthongs. An additional term used is tripthongs
which describes the combination of three vowel sounds (/ˈaʊər/in our). Single
vowel sounds may be short (/lɪft/ as in lift) or long (/hiːt/ as in heat).
1.2.2.1 Consonants
According to Wikipedia, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated
with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are [p], pronounced
with the lips; [t], pronounced with the front of the tongue; [k], pronounced with
the back of the tongue; [h], pronounced in the throat; [f] and [s], pronounced by
forcing air through a narrow channel (fricatives); and [m] and [n], which have air
flowing through the nose (nasals). Contrasting with consonants are vowels.
Since the number of possible sounds in all of the world's languages is much
greater than the number of letters in any one alphabet, linguists have devised
systems such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to assign a unique and
unambiguous symbol to each attested consonant. In fact, the English alphabet has
fewer consonant letters than English has consonant sounds, so digraphs like "ch",
"sh", "th", and "zh" are used to extend the alphabet, and some letters and digraphs
represent more than one consonant. For example, the sound spelled "th" in "this"
is a different consonant than the "th" sound in "thin". (In the IPA they are
transcribed [ð] and [θ], respectively.)
The word consonant is also used to refer to a letter of an alphabet that
denotes a consonant sound. The 21 consonant letters in the English alphabet are
B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Z, and usually W and Y. The
letter Y stands for the consonant /j/ in yoke, the vowel /ɪ/ in myth, the vowel /i/ in
funny, and the diphthong /aɪ/ in my. W always represents a consonant except in
combination with a vowel letter, as in growth, raw, and how, and in a few
loanwords from Welsh, like crwth or cwm.

12


Consonants can be described in terms if the manner and place of articulation.
The articulation of /p/ or /b/ is effectively the same, the only difference being that
the latter is voiced and the former is unvoiced. With regard to the place of
articulation, the following table summaries the main movements of the various
articulation:

To the manner of articulation, the vocal tract may be completely closed so
that the air is temporarily unable to pass through. Alternatively there may be a
closing movement of the lips, tongue or throat, so that it is possible to hear the
sound made by air passing through. Or, as in the case of nasal sounds, the air is
diverted through the nasal passages. The various terms used are explained in the
following table:

13


1.2.2.2 Vowels
Like most unfamiliar features of a new language, vowels and vowels
contrasts that do not occur in the student’s native language are likely to be
difficult. However, both perception and English pronunciation vowels improve as
proficiency, exposure to English, and use of English increase (Bohn Flege 1992,
Ingram and Park 1997, Flege and Mackay 2004).
Since accurate perception of vowels is linked to more accurate pronunciation,
work with vowel perception is important. However, vowel perception develops
gradually. Work with pronunciation can still be effective even when the vowel
(contrast) is not clearly perceived. Many students who cannot hear a vowel well
can nevertheless learn to pronounce it more accurately once they understand how
it is made, and more accurate pronunciation may lead to more accurate
perception.
A vowel is a sound in spoken language, with two competing definitions. In
the more common phonetic definition, a vowel is a sound pronounced with an
open vocal tract, so that the tongue does not touch the lips, teeth, or roof of the
mouth, such as the English "ah" /ɑː/ or "oh" /oʊ/. There is no build-up of air
pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as the
English "sh" [ʃː], which have a constriction or closure at some point along the
vocal tract. In the other, phonological definition, a vowel is defined as syllabic,
14


the sound that forms the peak of a syllable. A phonetically equivalent but nonsyllabic sound is a semivowel.
A vowel is a speech sound made by the vocal cords. It is also a type of letter
in the alphabet.
The letters of the English alphabet are either vowels or consonants or both. A
vowel sound comes from the lungs, through the vocal cords, and is not blocked,
so there is no friction. All English words have vowels.
These letters are vowels in English: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y
The letter Y can be a vowel (as in the words "cry", "sky", "fly" or "why"), or
it can be a consonant (as in "yellow", "yacht", "yam" or "yesterday").
These five or six letters stand for about 20 vowel sounds in most English
accents. This important fact helps to explain why pronunciation can be difficult
for both native speakers and learners of English.
The articulation of vowel sounds was introduced to show learners how those
sounds are produced so they would correctly pronounce them, especially, the
voicing (Celce-Murcia & Goodwin, 1996). The mouth shape will control the
deviation of voice production to be clearly pronounced (Dauer, 1993).
Vowels are articulated when a voiced airstream is shaped using the tongue
and the lips to modify the overall shape of the mouth. English speakers generally
use twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs.
It is important to keep in mind what is exactly which makes a phoneme valid
as a unit for analysis; the distinctions between phonemes hold, in that they are
units which differentiate between words meaning.
The phonetic definition of "vowel" (a sound produced with no constriction in
the vocal tract) does not always match the phonological definition (a sound that
forms the peak of a syllable). The approximants [j] and [w] illustrate this: both are
produced without much of a constriction in the vocal tract (so phonetically they
seem to be vowel-like), but they occur at the onset of syllables (e.g. in "yet" and
"wet") (which suggests that phonologically they are consonants). A similar debate
arises over whether a word like bird in a rhotic dialect has an r-colored vowel /ɝ/
or a syllabic consonant /ɹ̩ /. The American linguist Kenneth Pike (1943) suggested
the terms "vocoid" for a phonetic vowel and "vowel" for a phonological vowel, so
using this terminology, [j] and [w] are classified as vocoids but not vowels.
However, Maddieson and Emmory (1985) demonstrated from a range of
languages that semivowels are produced with a narrower constriction of the vocal
15


tract than vowels, and so may be considered consonants on that basis.
Nonetheless, the phonetic and phonemic definitions would still conflict for the
syllabic el in table, or the syllabic nasals in button and rhythm.
Vowels are usually described in terms of:
• length, although remember that length depends on stress, and that even short
vowels in English may seem rather long when stressed;
• the position in the mouth in which they are made (in terms of their position from
high to low and front to back);
• the degree to which the lips are rounded, spread or neutral.
(Vowels are also often described as either lax or tense, but this information is not
always helpful for learners.) The vowels in the phonemic chart are ordered
according to where they are made in the mouth. Thus the top rows of vowels are
made high in the mouth, the middle row are made in the centre, and the bottom
row are made low in the mouth. Similarly, the vowels on the left side of the chart
are made in the front of the mouth, the right-hand rows of the vowel section are
made in the back of the mouth, and those in between are made in between. Thus
the chart can serve as a useful reminder for both teacher and learner! A fuller
description of the vowels in English can be found in Roach (1991), Underhill
(1994) and Yallop (1995). English may have many more vowel sounds or longer
vowels than learners are used to in their first languages, and so learners may need
a lot of careful listening to vowel sounds, and to think about how to distinguish
them, as well as where in the mouth they should make them. An important issue
which is not always treated in the reference texts is that adult learners will already
have ‘drawn the boundary’ of what counts as a particular sound in a slightly
different place or manner in their first language. An example of this would be the
characteristic French /r/ compared with the English sound. Sometimes there are
two separate sounds capable of distinguishing differences in meaning in English,
but not in the learner’s first language. An example would be the distinction that is
made in English between /l/ and /r/, which is not made in the same way in
Chinese. The converse may also be true – that is, English may only have one
sound, where their first language has two, as in the so-called light /l/ (in ‘leaf’)
and dark / l/ (as in ‘feel’) in English. Russian distinguishes these as two separate
phonemes. Another difficulty may arise when learners do not have the English
phoneme at all in their first language and they need to learn it from scratch,
although this seems to present less of a problem for learners in the long term.
16


1.2.2.3 Intonation
The term ‘intonation’ has been defined in at least two different ways in the
literature. A narrow definition equates intonation with ‘speech melody’,
restricting it to the “ensemble of pitch variations in the course of an utterance” (‘t
Hart et al. 1990: 10).
In many languages, including English, intonation can show which parts of
utterances are regarded as being background, given, common-ground material,
and which parts carry the information focus. Given material in a clause typically
has some kind of rising intonation contour, indicating incompleteness--there is
something still to come--while the new information that is added is more likely to
carry a falling contour, indicating completion. This helps to make speech less
dependent than writing on ordering.
In spoken language, intonation serves diverse linguistic and paralinguistic
functions, ranging from the marking of sentence modality to the expression of
emotional and attitudinal nuances. It is important to identify how they are
expressed in the learner's native language, so that differences between the native
and target languages are identified. It is particularly important to point out that
many aspects of information structure and indirect speech acts are expressed
differently across languages. Making learners aware of the existence of these
functions will not only help them learn to express them, but will also help them to
interpret what they hear in a more analytic way, thus reducing the danger of
attributing unexpected intonation patterns as (solely) a function of the attitude or
emotional state of the speaker.
Brazil (1997:1, 1998:48) points out the defect in one of the traditional
concepts of intonation as variations in the pitch of the voice, and proposes an
innovative approach to production and reception of speech called Discourse
Intonation theory, which considers intonation to be the means to help us to grasp
the difference in meaning of perceived speech. Intonation is traditionally regarded
as variations in the pitch of the speaking voice. However, pitch can be perceived
in almost everything we utter and can continuously vary moment by moment. The
pitch variation can be extremely complex to describe accurately and would not
reveal anything of the significant pattern because not all the variation has the
same type of communicative significance. Thus Brazil (1998:48) suggests that
within the wide range of the pitch variation, those features that show certain
binary choices, or certain either/or choices should be focused upon and
17


understood how these choices from a set of opposites affect the way an utterance
can be interpreted. Not so much pitch variation itself as the meaning differences
that some of that variation helps us to perceive should be focused upon.
Therefore, although Cauldwell and Allen (1999:12) and Brazil (1994, Teacher’s
Book: 7) report that there is no agreement about what sound features intonation
has and the definitions of intonation provided by Cauldwell and Allen (1999:13)
vary, general agreement on intonation is introduced as follows:
a. The form of intonation centres on pitch and variation in pitch.
b. The existence of a system.
c. Intonation has meaning, although the nature of that meaning is in dispute.
British descriptions of English intonation can be traced back to the 16th
century. Early in the 20th century the dominant approach in the description of
English and French intonation was based on a small number of basic "tunes"
associated with intonation units: in a typical description, Tune 1 is falling, with
final fall, while Tune 2 has a final rise. Phoneticians such as H.E. Palmer broke
up the intonation of such units into smaller components, the most important of
which was the nucleus, which corresponds to the main accented syllable of the
intonation unit, usually in the last lexical word of the intonation unit. Each
nucleus carries one of a small number of nuclear tones, usually including fall,
rise, fall-rise, rise-fall, and possibly others. The nucleus may be preceded by a
head containing stressed syllables preceding the nucleus, and a tail consisting of
syllables following the nucleus within the tone unit. Unstressed syllables
preceding the head (if present) or nucleus (if there is no head) constitute a prehead. This approach was further developed by Halliday and by O'Connor and
Arnold, though with considerable variation in terminology. This "Standard
British" treatment of intonation in its present-day form is explained in detail by
Wells and in a simplified version by Roach. Halliday saw the functions of
intonation as depending on choices in three main variables: Tonality (division of
speech into intonation units), Tonicity (the placement of the tonic syllable or
nucleus) and Tone (choice of nuclear tone); these terms (sometimes referred to as
"the three T's") have been used more recently.
Research by Crystal emphasized the importance of making generalizations
about intonation based on authentic, unscripted speech, and the roles played by
prosodic features such as tempo, pitch range, loudness and rhythmicality in
communicative functions usually attributed to intonation.
18


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×