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H.K - Korea said:
Pronunciation problems for KoreansMost EFL students find pronunciation the most difficult aspect of English language; pronunciation of English is very versatile because depending on stress, rhythm, and intonation, the meaning of a sentence can totally change. Majority of language students share problems pronouncing s endings, ed endings, stress, timing, articulation, intonation, rhythm through use of contractions, blends, flaps, pitch, inflections, linking(3). However, depending on students' native language, the areas of pronunciation which are most problematic can differ. All languages have different structure, stress, and intonation etc? Therefore, if the pronunciation in a student's mother tongue is more similar to English pronunciation than the other student, then the latter student has to go through more difficult time mastering the art of pronunciation. The korean speakers have hard time pronouncing all voiced consonants whereas German speakers have hard time pronouncing all voiced consonants in final position(3). Before going into the detail on notable pronunciation problems for korean speakers, it is crucial to learn some background information about their language. korean is a language whose classification is in dispute. some linguist say it exists in family of its own while others say it is the Altaic language family which is closely related with japanese. "korean has been heavily influenced by chinese so that a large proportion of korean words were either coined in korean using chinese characters or borrowed directly"(2). "korean is a syllable timed language in which individual word stress is insignificant," and due to this, often long oral presentations given by korean speakers can give an impression of "flat quality." As stated above, koreans have difficulty pronouncing individual consonants such as /?/ and /ð/ sounds, the /v/ sound, which is produced as a /b/, and the /f/ sounds as /p/ (2). There are several other common pronunciation errors that are endemic to students from korean background. The worst errors are distinction between B VS. P, F VS P, B VS V, J or Ch VS Z and Z sounds. Also many koreans have tendency to skip the letter 's.' Also it is hard for korean speakers to distinguish the sounds between L and R because there is no such sounds in korean language. Some of the minor errors are that pronunciation of long "I" is confused with short "I," and pronunciation of unvoiced Th is pronounced as S (i.e. Thick = sick). Also, many koreans speak English monotonously with a small tone, which can diminish their ability to communicate effectively in English (1). Pronunciation is a way a word or a language is spoken, or manner in which someone utters a word (4). Since pronunciation is an oral method of expressing one's ideas and beliefs, people with different ideas and beliefs would pronouns the same word differently. korean speakers come from a background which their native tongue does not stress individual words, therefore, they have hard time pronouncing all voiced consonants. Often times, EFL (English as foreign language) students have a difficulty in pronouncing a certain sound which is absent from their mother tongue. korean language only has a sound close to B sound whereas V sound is absent from korean language. Also, korean language has a sound close to L but not R, and has G sound but no Z, has T sound but no Th etc? Therefore, by observing the pronunciation problems faced by korean speakers, we know that the problems arise due to different characteristics in pronunciations of korean language to English. After all, pronunciation is almost like an innate ability which people acquire at a very young age, and it is extremely difficult for people to adapt to the new ways of pronunciation once they reach a certain age. References 1. Some Basic korean Pronunciation Errors. http://nathanbauman.com/nathanbaumankoreanpronunciation.html 2. The differences between English and korean http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/korean.htm 3. Typical Pronunciation Problems by Language Group. http://www.englishelearning.com/teach/teach05.pdf

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