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Difficulties of English Pronunciation in Vietnam

Difficulties of English Pronunciation in Vietnam | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Once I arrived in Vietnam to teach the English language, I realized that poor pronunciation is common in Vietnamese students as well as teachers. These mistakes are similar, as it was obvious the Vietnamese teachers passed them to the students. In this essay, I am going to deliberate on the causes of the problem and suggest a few solutions.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Mohammad E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Language structure

First, we will start with the problem origin. The Vietnamese language is monosyllabic. Vietnamese people are familiar with pronouncing monosyllabic words, thus it is considerably hard for them to pronounce multi-syllabic words, like English words. They usually pronounce the first syllable of a word and in some few cases the second syllable, then they drop the rest. That is why they drop the past tense sound of the verbs, the “S” sound in the present simple singular form of the verbs and the “S” sound in the plural of nouns. A recent example was a student who pronounces “milk” like “mil” dropping the “K” sound.

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How to work this out?

An effective solution to the previously mentioned problem would be suggesting to the students that all consonant letters in the English language should be pronounced when reading. Although that is not exactly right, it will fix more than 70% percentof the problem. I tried that solution, which suggested to me, and it was significantly effective.

teaher in class

Consonants

Another problem would be that in the Vietnamese language you will not notice any consecutive consonants in the same word, on the other hand, it is quite common in English. That is why in a word like “Australia” it is usually pronounced like “Australia” dropping the “S” sound in the middle.

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Reading comprehension

Reading exercises is a good solution for such a problem alongside with the solution suggested previously. The problem in a solution that involves a lot of reading is that most curriculums in Vietnam have a meager amount of reading exercises. Moreover, most of the schools’ principals would want a foreign teacher to concentrate on developing the students’ listening and speaking skills rather than reading and writing. To work around these obstacles reading assignments should be assigned to students out of the class. Then, they should audio record their reading assignment to play and then hear it notice a pronunciation mistake and fix them to get material results.

By solving the previously mentioned two problems we would have solved approximately 90% of the Vietnamese student pronunciation problems.

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Word building

Finally, another problem that has an immense impact on Vietnamese students’ pronunciation; this time it is not related to their pronunciation technique or their word formulation abilities, it is rather a procedural problem that I noticed in many public schools. It is that foreign teachers share classes with local teachers. In many cases, local teachers lecture the students twice the time foreign teachers do. Due to such behavior, the students suffer from retrogression.

The suggested solution is periodic workshops, through which foreign teachers and local teachers could share knowledge and improve the local teachers’ pronunciation problems. The close interaction and continuous contact between the foreign and local teachers will also build a mutual understanding of how can we all arise with the educational process, to have better English pronunciation for the coming generations.

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In conclusion, The Vietnamese authorities’ willingness is a key player in solving the problem at hand. English pronunciation is a deep issue for the majority of the Vietnamese English speakers, yet it can be overcome if the right foreign teachers work in corporation with local teachers under willing governmental authorities.

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