Issues in English Pronunciation Teaching

Turkish-English Interlanguage Case

by Sinan Bayraktaroğlu (Author)
©2020 Monographs 188 Pages


Traditionally, the teaching of English pronunciation has been a marginalized, or indeed neglected, area in many English language teaching (ELT) programs despite the crucial role it plays in effective communication. In recent years, however, with the global spread of English as the means of international communication, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of pronunciation in the teaching and learning of English and its close link to other aspects of language learning, such as listening, speaking and vocabulary. Students as well as non-native English-speaking teachers (NNEST) place great importance on the mastery of English pronunciation, from which they can gain confidence, develop a greater sense of professional and linguistic competence and achieve greater intelligibility through the development of communicative skills in speaking, listening and vocabulary.With the emergence of paradigms of English as an international language (EIL), World Englishes (WE), English as a lingua franca (ELF) and the worldwide impact of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) on foreign language learning/teaching, this study presents a critical survey of these areas expressing the author’s own views on the specific issue concerned while incorporating the views of other scholars. The book deals with both traditional and most recent viewpoints in pronunciation teaching, such as the nature of learning to pronounce, the pedagogical aims and objectives of teaching pronunciation, the role of the teacher and the notion of "intelligibility", which is considered to be a highly controversial issue for international communication within the paradigms of EIL, ELF and WE. The ‘Turkish–English Interlanguage Talk’ has been dealt with as a case study proposing pedagogical recommendations particularly for the Turkish academics/teacher trainers and the student-teachers of English language teaching (ELT) in mind as English pronunciation teaching is a very much neglected area in the Turkish ELT today.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Dedication
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Abbreviations
  • Preliminaries
  • Introduction
  • Part A: Background issues
  • 1 Teaching pronunciation: a neglected area
  • 1.1 What does pronunciation teaching involve?
  • 1.2 The nature of the problem of learning to pronounce
  • 1.3 When to teach pronunciation
  • 1.4 The teacher as a model
  • 1.5 Pedagogical aims in pronunciation teaching
  • 1.6 The teaching priority: segmental or suprasegmental?
  • 1.7 What is intelligible English?
  • 1.7.1 Assessing NNS–NNS intelligibility: Lingua Franca Core
  • 1.7.2 The Lingua Franca non-core areas:
  • 1.7.3 Assessing NNS–NS intelligibility: Which variety of English?
  • 1.7.4 Native speaker–non-native speaker intelligibility
  • 1.7.5 Accent
  • 1.7.6 Nativeness
  • 1.7.7 Accommodation skills
  • 1.7.8 Native and non-native English speaking teachers
  • 1.7.9 Language transfer as defined by linguistic science
  • 1.7.10 Interference and hierarchy of difficulties
  • 1.7.11 Conclusion
  • Part B: The classification of pronunciation difficulties
  • 2 A model for the classification of pronunciation difficulties
  • 2.1 Phonemic difficulties
  • 2.1.1 Type 1(a)
  • 2.1.2 Type 1(b)
  • 2.2 Phonemic distributional difficulties
  • 2.2.1 Type 2(a)
  • 2.2.2 Type 2(b)
  • 2.3 Phonetic difficulties
  • 2.3.1 Type 3(a)
  • 2.4 Allophonic difficulties
  • 2.4.1 Type 4(a)
  • 2.4.2 Type 4(b)
  • 2.5 Allophonic distributional difficulties
  • 2.5.1 Type 5(a)
  • 2.6 Orthographic interference
  • 2.6.1 Type 6(a)
  • 2.7 The classification of pronunciation difficulties encountered by TEIL speakers
  • 2.8 Expectations of the learner
  • Part C: Turkish-English interlanguage talk and Lingua Franca Core targets
  • 3 The consonantal inventory
  • 4 Phonetic requirements
  • 4.1 Aspiration after /p/, /t/ and /k/
  • 4.2 Appropriate vowel length before fortis/lenis consonants
  • 5 Consonant clusters: word initially and word medially
  • 6 Vowel sounds
  • 6.1 Turkish vowel lengths
  • 7 The rhotic [r] and intervocalic /t/
  • 8 Word stress
  • 8.1 Teaching word stress
  • 9 Sentence stress
  • 10 Criticisms of the Lingua Franca Core
  • Part D: How do EIL and EFL relate to the CEFR?
  • 11 The impact of the CEFR
  • 11.1 The CEFR as a needs-oriented framework
  • 11.2 EIL and ELF objectives
  • 11.3 ELF criticisms of the CEFR
  • 11.4 The response to ELF criticisms of the CEFR
  • Appendix 1: Orthographic representations of Turkish phonemes with their variable allophones
  • Appendix 2: Orthographic representations of English vowels, diphthongs and consonants
  • Appendix 3: Turkish consonants
  • Appendix 4: English consonants
  • Appendix 5: Turkish and English vowels
  • Appendix 6: Empirical data and procedures
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Terms
  • Index of Names


This book is based on my earlier works (Bayraktaroğlu 1989, 1992, 2008, 2011) on English phonetics and pronunciation teaching with special reference to Turkish-English interlanguage (TEIL). This study updates our stance on the subject in light of the emergence of paradigms of English as an International Language (EIL), World Englishes (WE), English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), and the worldwide impact of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) on foreign language learning/teaching. A brief critical survey of the pronunciation issues in these areas has been carried out, reflecting the views of certain scholars together with our own views on specific issues where necessary. The book is written particularly for Turkish academics/teacher trainers and with students of teachers-to-be of English Language Teaching (ELT) in mind. English Pronunciation Teaching is a much neglected area in Turkish ELT today and it therefore needs to be noted that there is no book of this kind written specifically for the Turkish audience. In this respect, beyond its originality, it is hoped that the book will be a major breakthrough in Turkish ELT.

It also needs to be said at the outset that although our empirical investigation of TEIL was carried out long time ago, its phonemic and phonetic findings have been checked and revised over the years, most recently in our teaching of practical English phonetics and pronunciation for the speaking/listening modules of the undergraduate ELT degree courses in Turkey since 2007. Furthermore, it should be noted that the phonological structures of Turkish and English have not changed (!) since our experimental work was carried out and hence the data collected also remains unchanged. In other words, the phonetic and phonological interference of Turkish in English phonetic structure is bound to remain the same as forty years ago irrespective of the time factor although in the 21st century when English learners are nowadays exposed to a variety of media in English (e.g. films, music, You Tube, etc). Accordingly, features of consonantal and vocalic phonemic and phonetic ‘negative transfer’ as listed in the book (Section 2.7) still constitute typical phonetic and phonemic features unique to TEIL.

Another point to be clarified is that it is inescapable to base the description of variation of features of TEIL pronunciation on one native variety of English; however, the question then arises as to which native variety of English our phonetic descriptions of TEIL will be based on. i.e. the standard variety ofBritish ←15 | 16→English (BE)’, ‘Standard Scottish English (SSE)’, ‘Welsh English’, ‘Irish English’, ‘General American’ (GA), or ‘Australian English’ etc.

In this study, we have opted for the standard variety of BE1 spoken by those born and educated in the south of England. We implemented this variety as a convenient model of points of reference and guidance, rather than the norm, in identifying the sources of pronunciation difficulties arising from the phonetic and phonemic interference of Turkish in English pronunciation. Such features of interference were first classified from our data which involved the allophonic (narrow) transcription in terms of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) of recorded specimens of TEIL speakers in connected speech, a reading passage, sentences, and isolated words. As a result of these tasks, we were able to design A Model of Classification of Pronunciation Difficulties, which was a useful tool in our investigation.

The difference between a model and a norm has been outlined as follows by Jenkins (1998: 124: citing Dalton and Seidlhofer (1994:27):

“[I]f we treat RP and/or General American as a norm, we connect them strongly with ideas of correctness. The norm is invariable and has to be imitated independently of any considerations of language use. The aim, however unrealistic, is 100 per cent attainment of the norm, which is regarded as an end itself. On the other hand, if we treat RP and/or General American as a model, we use them as points of reference and models for guidance. We decide to approximate to them more or less according to the demands of a specific situation….

Thus, instead of treating a native norm as the goal for production, as has generally been the case hitherto, teachers should be made aware that this is neither a desirable nor, in fact a likely outcome. They can be shown how to use a native model as a point of reference to prevent local non-native varieties from moving too far apart from eachother, as well as to promote receptive competence in interaction with native speakers.”

Celce-Murcia et al. (1996: 10–11), on the other hand, select the North American variety of English (NAE) for the treatment of both the NAE sound system and the classroom methods and techniques for the teaching of pronunciation for the following reasons:

“(1) it represents our own variety and that of most of the teachers we train; (2) it is the target variety of the many ESL students living, studying, or working in North America; ←16 | 17→and (3) it is a variety that has gained a strong foothold in much of the world, where English is taught as a foreign or additional language.”

Another point which needs to be clarified is that this study focuses for pedagogical reasons on ‘language learning/teaching’ rather than ‘language acquisition’, as the phonemic and phonetic description Turkish-English Interlanguage Speakers (TEILS) – as discussed later in this study – is the result of Turkish adults speaking/learning English as a foreign language and not acquiring it in a bilingual context or from birth. Therefore, Krashen’s (1985) distinction between the two processes of ‘language acquisition’ and ‘language learning’ is useful for understanding the nature of pronunciation teaching/learning. While acquisition is the “subconscious process identical in all important ways to the process children utilize in acquiring their first language”, learning refers to the “‘conscious process’ that results in ‘knowing about language’ (ibid.: 1) in classroom experience, in which the learner is made to focus on form and to learn about the linguistic rules of the target language” (Mitchell and Myles 2004: 45).

Finally, although this book is written particularly for the Turkish academics/teachers of English, it can set an example internationally for other interlanguage combinations for the following reasons which point to its originality:

a) Contrary to many publications in the field of pronunciation, the relationship between Jenkins’ (Jenkins 2000:158-9; 2002: 96-7) Lingua Franca Corpus (LFC) and the issue of intelligibility is critically investigated in this book by presenting our own views based on our empirical research.

b) Alice Henderson et al (2015:282-283) in an article titled “The English Pronunciation Teaching in Europe Survey: Factors Inside and Outside the Classroom”, report:

“One surprising finding was the limited use of established assessment scales, despite promotion of the CEFR throughout Europe. This could mean that CEFR is not seen as relevant to the teaching or assessment pronunciation …our results confirm that the CEFR remains an underused tool.” (Emphasis added)

This study, however, highlights the fact that the CEFR is a crucial tool in the teaching and assessment of pronunciation. Furthermore, it responds in Section D to undue criticisms made against the CEFR by scholars supporting Lingua Franca, such as Jenkins (2014) and Seidlhofer (2003)


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 188 pp., 1 fig. b/w, 3 tables.

Biographical notes

Sinan Bayraktaroğlu (Author)

Professor Sinan Bayraktaroğlu was educated at Talas and Tarsus American Schools in Turkey. He received his BA in English Language & Literature and Ottoman History at Ankara University, MA in Linguistics and ELT at Leeds University, and PhD in Applied Linguistics and ELT at the University of London Institute of Education. He lectured in Turkish Linguistics and Culture at Cambridge University for five years as a lector and was matriculated with MA status as a senior member of the university. He had been a senior lecturer in General Linguistics & Phonetics at Ulster University before he took up the position to be the founding director of The Cambridge Centre for Languages at Sawston Hall in Cambridge, where he served for twenty-two years. He has been working very closely with John Trim for many years, who is the architect and brainchild of CEFR. Since 2008, he has been taking appointments at 12 different State and Foundation universities in Turkey, gaining the Turkish experience while at the same time researching and publishing for the Turkish media about the past and present status quo of ELT in Higher Education in Turkey today. He was an elected fellow of Royal Society of Arts and Institute of Linguists in the UK and was awarded the State Medal of the Republic of Turkey for Outstanding Services (T.C Devlet Üstün Hizmet Madalyası) in the year 2000 by President Süleyman Demirel.


Title: Issues in English Pronunciation Teaching
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