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  • Publicado : 28 de octubre de 2010
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Hearing the sounds

He may simply assimilate it to the nearest sound familiar to him; he has practiced saying the sound himself. He starts using the language for something other than pronunciation practice. Even more difficulty is caused when the new sound does exist in the native language, but only as an allophonic variation of another phoneme.They are allophones, and the substitution of one for the other makes no difference to meaning, occurring only because of the location of the sound in the word or sentence.

Sometimes the foreing learner of English may have difficulty with the sequences and juxtapositions of sounds typical of English words.

Another reason why sounds may be misheard is that the student is not used to the stressand intonation patterns of English and the way these influence both the realization of certain phonemes and the meaning of the utterance.

One interesting point about all these difficulties is that it is often quite difficult to know, outside minimal pair practice, whether students really have heard the sounds right or not, because they may guess the right meaning from the context.Understanding intonation and stress

The English systems of stress, intonation and rhythm, though perhaps less obviously difficult than problems of the actual sounds, can interfere with the foreign learner´s proper understanding of spoken English. It is, therefore, worth drawing out students’ attention to the existence of certain general patterns.

The rhythm of speech is based on these tones and to alesser extent on other minor stresses, and intervening lightened syllables may be pronounced very fast so as not to break this rhythm.

We can usefully do some classroom exercise whose object it is simply to sensitize students to their existence.

Coping With Redundancy and “Noise”

There are some items he cannot understand simply because he does not know them, many others which he is not yetsufficiently familiar with to grasp during speech.

Second, she is not familiar enough with the sound-combinations, lexis and collocations of the language to make predictions or retroactive guesses as to what was to make predictions or retroactive guesses.

Third, even when the number of grasp is not much larger than those they would encounter in their own language, many foreign-languagelearners run into a psychological problem: they have a kind of compulsion to understand everything, even things that are usually unimportant, and are disturbed, discourse things that are totally unimportant, and are disturbed, discouraged and even completely thrown off balance if they come across an incomprehensible word.

A learner who is at he transition stage from intensive to expensive readingalso has to learn to grasp the meaning of a sentence even when it includes a word or two he does not know. The reader, however, has the advantage of time, he can stop if the wishes and try to make an intelligent guess as to the meaning of the missing items. On the one hand he is distressed and discouraged by his comprehension, has the feeling that he has missed vital words. On the other hand, evenif he does perceive and understand every single word he hears, he may find this actually counter-productive: for effective listening is aided by the ability to the listener to ignore or “skim” unimportant items.

The ability to make do with only a part of what is heard and understand the main message is a vitally important one for effective listening in a communicative situation. Once thelearner has moved over from intensive to extensive listening in the foreign language and got used to coping with “noise” and recognizing redundancy, his own native language skills will come into play; but he needs conscious practice in making the transition.


Anyone who has learnt a foreign language knows how tiring it is listening to and interpreting unfamiliar sound, lexis and syntax...