Foreign language pronunciation

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  • Publicado : 17 de noviembre de 2011
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“Determine wich will be the best techniques and procedures to improve foreign language pronunciation and phonetics for students.”

The sounds in the English language are very difficult to reproduce by students because of the way they had learned phonetics and phonology, and by this, they had some problems producing sounds in an acceptable manner. Some of these problems are: unusual sounds, astrange combination of sounds, or certain aspects of speech rhythm and miss intonation.
These problems could be caused because they had an education based only in theory without a notion of how are words supposed to sound.
But learn phonetics and phonology just practicing or with examples it is not an excellent option either, because to generate a proper sound of each word they need knowledge ofhow is a sound produced and what is the articulation to produce the correct sound.
And by this, it is difficult to say witch method will be the best to teach English language students or witch will be the one with better results.

The term phonology refers to the patterns of phonetic elements used in the phonological forms of meaningful entities of a language. These elements (phonemes), areabstractions and have no content. They are described in opposition to each other: change of a phoneme in a word creates a different word (eg. /kæp tæp læp/).
Errors in pronunciation can be either allophonic or phonological. When, for instance, the word pit is perceived as bit by the listener, the error is phonological; when the word drill is pronounced with the clear /l/ instead of the dark, the wordcan be perceived correctly and the error is allophonic. Individual phonological errors, like the one above, do not very often occur in real conversation, because the redundancy embedded in the context makes it possible for listeners to amend what they hear.
The importance of phoneme contrasts is often overemphasized in teaching at the cost of
some other, more important aspects of phonology.Phenomena that are important to learn are, for instance, “the way in which the foreign language links phonemes together, physically carries out sequences of sounds in stressed and unstressed positions in connected speech, shapes words and builds up word combinations, and gives them their rhythm in sentences and longer stretches of discourse”(Lehtonen et al. 1977)(1).
The phoneme paradigmconstituting the phonological system of a given language makes part of the native speaker’s competence. It makes it possible for him to expect certain types of constructions and recognize certain physical differences of sounds. The phonemic system of the language also allows the speaker-hearer to subconsciously overlook differences and constructions that could be predicted theoretically. There is a greatdeal of redundancy as a result of the phonological rules and rules of grammar as well as various constraints that are imposed on the exchange of messages. This redundancy is an unavoidable feature of all natural communication. It is for this reason that it is not possible to evaluate the importance of individual phonological oppositions.
Interpretation of an utterance calls for the processing ofphonemic, syntactic, and semantic cues of perception. The information contained in the perceptual auditory input can only be used properly if the units signalled by the sound waves in speech are familiar. Lehtonen (Lehtonen et al. 1977)(2) has compared the functioning of the phonological structure of languages to the game of chess: The chess pieces could be of any shape as long as they areidentifiable and different from each other. The shapes of the pieces have no bearing on the rules of the game; only the rules that govern their conduct are important, not their external appearance.
The chess player has to learn to recognize the chess pieces by their outward characteristics but also have access to the rules that govern their conduct on the chessboard. From very early onin our childhood,...