|Teaching Additional Languages (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 28 p.)|
Pronunciation instruction should make students understandable to other users of an additional language.
Researchers have debated whether it is possible for older additional-language learners to obtain a native-like accent. Most agree that few such students can achieve a native-like accent. For most communication purposes, it is generally unimportant to do so. Students need to develop the ability to be understood by other speakers, not to sound like a native. Pronunciation must be comprehensible and not detract from the understanding of a message. Thus, teachers must work on the pronunciation of individual sounds, both vowels and consonants and on the various sound combinations.
Of equal importance is teaching the intonation, stress and rhythm patterns of the additional language, which often block effective communication. Inability in these areas causes more communication problems than the inaccurate pronunciation of individual sounds.
In teaching pronunciation, students need practice in natural contexts. Feedback is an essential part of pronunciation instruction, since students may not be able to evaluate how successful they are in creating the pattern. When selecting a pronunciation feature, the instructor should illustrate how native language patterns may facilitate or hinder communication in the additional language.
In the classroom
Several teaching strategies should be helpful in teaching pronunciation:
· Teach students to listen carefully to pronunciation. Often contrasting it with another pattern will enable them to recognize the important differences.
· Encourage students to use the pattern in isolation and then in natural sentence contexts.
· Students should also use the pattern in sentences of their own making.
· Teach students to produce correct intonation, stress and rhythm.
· Learning pronunciation is difficult and takes time. Difficult patterns may need re-teaching.
References: Celce-Murcia, Brinton & Goodwin, 1996; Kenworthy, 1987; Morley, 1994.