Class Location TEFL

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Pronunciation Problems in JapanEnglish pronunciation for japanese learners is very difficult compared to many other languages such as the Romantic ones. Not only does Japan have a different style of writing (non-Roman alphabet) but it has rules of speaking that limit how words are pronounced. They also add items to a word such as extra syllables or letters so that the English spoken word fits in with their known, existing japanese rules of speech. Since the japanese rules for speech differ from English significantly, several things can help facilitate the English pronunciation. students could use repetition and more of it. They could use Katakana English (oral English using japanese phonology) as a step toward the English Pronunciation. Some of the problems for improper English pronunciation for japanese students can be outlined such as: they have no ?l? sound (thus lemon comes out as remon), they add a vowel at the end of words (salad becomes salada), they do not have two consonants together (strawberry reverts to sutoroberi)1. Rather than fight the issue, some teachers choose to use Katakana English as a transition to the proper pronunciation (possibly hoping people would understand what is being said by the context or the word having a semblance of actual English pronunciation while still having the student feeling comfortable with the language). Power (nd.)2 gives thirty two pronunciation issues with respect to the japanese learner. As an excellent resource, he also gives links to Internet sites that provide practice to overcome each of these issues. Some of these include: FIX PROBLEM ENGLISH SOUND - COMMON ERROR - PRACTICE MATERIALS Relax the mouth and keep sound short. /?/ "sit" /i:/ "seat" Minimal Pairs /?/ or / i: / practice Move tongue to a lower front position. /æ/ "man" /e/ "men" Minimal Pairs /e/ or /æ/ practice Tongue more central. Lips relaxed. /?/ "cup" /æ/ "cap" Minimal Pairs /æ/ or /?/ practice While the phonological problems mentioned above are huge, deeply ingrained socio-cultural issues also play a large part in japanese students pronouncing English. japanese people have a high expectation of a one-to-one relationship between sound and symbol. These are habits and attitudes of a lifetime. japanese students respond well to teacher-centred work on areas which they appreciate are problematic for them. Thus, lessons need to include a straightforward presentation of the pronunciation feature being focused on and a clear explanation as to why it presents difficulties for japanese speakers.3 The lifelong attitudes and habits must be addressed in addition to pronunciation when working with japanese students of English. Lovelock4 gives a good comparison of some of the habits and attitudes of japanese learners and what they need to be to instill a greater level of learning English. These are given as: Common Habits and Attitudes Desirable Habits and Attitudes 1. Aim to learn about English through japanese. 1. Aim to learn to communicate in English. 2. Study, translate, and memorize a body of knowledge. 2. Use and practice skills, study a little. 3. Wait to be taught by the teacher. 3. Take responsibility for own learning. 4. Making mistakes, or not knowing, is shameful. 4. Learning from mistakes or by asking questions is okay. 5. Learn through analyzing written texts word-by-word. 5. Learn by using global context and listening. Read later. 6. Mutual help between students is great. 6. Mutual help between students is great. Thus, it can be seen that to teach English to a japanese person, two major components have to be addressed, the phonological issues and the socio-cultural issues. While the second one is not directly related to English pronunciation, it needs to be addressed in a way that will facilitate English pronunciation. While Katakana English may be useful as a transition to proper English (this author cannot comment properly in this area as no experience has been obtained), it seems that articulation diagrams showing placement of teeth, lips, tongue and so forth coupled with videotaping of students showing articulation would appear to be more effective. Obviously, much practice and patience is needed to help produce the proper English sounds while making students feel comfortable to make mistakes and try oral skills prior to reading skills. The largest key to getting started is that the class needs to be teacher led for japanese students. 1 Kistler, M. and Sandkamp, J. 2008. Helping japanese students Overcome Common Pronunciation Problems Caused by Katakana English from The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIV, No. 1, January 2008, Retrieved May 1, 2012 from 2 Power, Ted, nd., English Language Learning and Teaching, retrieved May 2, 2012 from 3 Bradford, B., nd, Teaching English Pronunciation to japanese Learners. Retrieved May 1, 2012 from 4 Lovelock, Clive, nd. Instant Feedback for Learner Training: Using Individual Assessment Cards. Published by U.S. government Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of English Language Programs, Retrieved May 2, 2012 from