Phonetics/Phonology I have chosen the topic of


I have chosen the topic of Phonetics/Phonology because it is a topic that is dear to my heart. I have been trained as a phonological instructor and have seen how it changes not only non- readers in to good readers, but also makes good readers into better ones.

In today's modern society, the skills of pronunciation have been put on a back burner because our kids find sounds, intonation and stress very boring compared to the entertainment that is so readily available at the press of a button. Consequently, instead of being a priority in our education system, it has been given a very small spot in our language development.

There are many arguments for teaching phonetics as a base for language. In order for students to develop communicative efficiency in pronunciation, they need to understand how sounds are made and how stress is used. They also need to hear language so that they can both imitate the pronunciation and acquire the sounds and patterns. (Longman)

Many believe that the teaching of phonetics is not a luxury to be taught at the discretion of the teacher. Pronunciation should be an integral part of the English teaching program from the early stages, just as the teaching of structures and grammar. This writing suggests that the teaching of pronunciation progresses from the smallest unit of speech (the phoneme) to combinations of phonemes (clusters and blends) to the word (Word stress) and finally to the connected speech, incorporating such features as sentence stress, rhythm and intonation. (Hubbard)

Phonology provides intensive practice in English pronunciation that intermediate and more advanced students usually find difficult. The lessons concentrate on stress, weak forms, contractions, linking and consonant clusters, as well as intonation practice. (Cunningham) Phonetic symbols are a great help when it comes to learning to pronounce English words correctly. Any time you open a dictionary, you can find the correct pronunciation of words you don´t know by looking at the phonetic pronunciation that follows the word. Unfortunately, learning the phonetic alphabet is not always the easiest thing to do. (Mortimer)

My personal opinion is a combination of all of these professional writers.I believe that stress, rhythm and intonation are an important part of pronunciation. However, I believe that learning the phonemes comes first. I work part time at an Aboriginal School where English is spoken as a second language to Micquac. We were asked to go in to teach phonetic reading, writing and speech to a school of 37 children ranging from ages four to twelve. (The four year-olds blew me away!)We spent two years teaching the phonemic sounds; how to say them, how to read them, how to spell them, how to blend them in to words, and then how to organize the words into sentences, and sentences into stories. This was all done in a way that kept the children motivated. We worked hard but we used many of the activities that have been discussed in this TEFL Course. They loved the games and the computer activities like 'Drag and Drop', 'Hangman', and Concentration. We were fortunate enough to have a computer library so that we could take a class to the computer room for activities.

It is very heartwarming to see those students today. They are reading at grade level or beyond; they are writing well, and their spoken English is as good as mine. I honestly believe it all began with a 'sound'.

Sources:

A Training Course for TEFL by Peter Hubbard

The Practise of English Language Teaching by Longman

Elements of Pronunciation by Colin Mortimer

Headway by Sarah Cunningham