Pronunciation problems in china
Teaching English in any country will provide challenges in pronunciation and
is no different. student
often do not learn from a native speaker
develop problems in their pronunciation early on and form bad habits. English
has several trouble sounds for students
and also chinese
in particular. When
these sounds are not learned correctly they become harder to correct as the bad
habit is reinforced over time.
As an example, ?TH? sound is especially challenging for chinese
. The ?TH?
comes out and sounds like an ?S?. The challenge continues based on where the
?TH? is found in the word: the beginning, middle or end. [Think/Thanks &
Birthday/Something & Breath/Wealth] Giving students
practice reading sentences
in class has proved helpful in boosting their confidence as well as pronunciation.
Example sentences could be: Thank you for the thoughtful card, Throw the ball
through the hoop, Thunder and lightning scare me, because they are a threat to
my health. Another method used to help improve pronunciation is choral
repetition using a list of words involving trouble sounds. ?TH? at the beginning of
the word: thoughtful, therapy, thunder, thief, theory, thread, thank you. ?TH? in
the middle of the word: something, athlete, ethnic, ethical, anything, faithful,
bathtub, nothing. ?TH? at the end of the word: growth, north, death, breath, math.
?TH? is not the only trouble sound, I have used ?OUS? from Gracious, ?V? from
Very, and ?Zh? from Genre.
Combining oral practice as a group in class in only a partial fix in trying to correct
a language learners poor pronunciation habits. A solution I have used along with
other teachers is giving more personal attention. This is accomplished by oneon-
one time with a student
and giving an oral exam. Having the student
words and phrases with trouble sounds and answering questions is a great way
to determine a student
?s level. Grading on several areas can give a student
feedback and ways to improve their English. Common rubric categories can give
specific areas to focus their studies.
who desire more speaking practice can come to office hours and ask
who come to office hours can practice their oral English in a
relaxed setting without the pressure and time constraints of a classroom.
Relationships can also be formed creating a safer environment with which the
can make mistakes and learn from them. It gives the teacher a place to
correct without embarrassing the student
in front of classmates. This is also
culturally sensitive in china
, where I teach, where saving face is extremely
important. Finding a way to correct a student
without embarrassing them is
challenging but can build rapport and trust to continue speaking in front of others.
A language learners? confidence and willingness to make mistakes, particularly in
pronunciation, is one of the single largest drivers to teaching with a corrective
mindset. Helping students
recognize and change their bad habits of
pronunciation is a process, not an event. Patience and perseverance are
required attributes if both parties want to succeed.
There are countless helps and tips on teaching trouble sounds across the web.
UNIT 13 has a pronunciation guide to help further study and ideas.