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Teaching English Pronunciation at the Secondary School Level

Series:

Karolina Janczukowicz

This book aims to aid English teachers at the junior and senior secondary school levels in teaching pronunciation within a regular EFL syllabus. It presents such a way of incorporating the phonetic and lexical components so as to facilitate students’ acquisition of a standard phonetic system and to prevent them from forming habitual mistakes in individual words. It highlights key areas of the English phonetic system and provides examples of strategies how to use a course-book for the sake of teaching pronunciation. The discussion of teaching the phonetic system relies on the comparison between its conscious and unconscious acquisition. Teaching individual vocabulary items (especially reversing habitual mispronunciations) is analysed through contrasting mental and behavioural learning.
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3. Introducing individual vocabulary items

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As was mentioned in the introduction, the characteristic feature of teaching English pronunciation up to the secondary school level is that it requires splitting the teacher’s attention to two aspects: that of teaching the system and that of teaching individual vocabulary items. The lack of a consistent relationship between the spelling and pronunciation creates a situation where the pronunciation of very few vocabulary items is fully predictable on the basis of the spelling only. The reverse situation is even harder for a learner: it sometimes seems nearly impossible to note down an unknown word relying only on what has been heard.

The first practical implication is that making constant use of the phonetic transcription is inevitable. Another one is that teaching pronunciation must involve teaching vocabulary items in a way that would prevent students from making misjudgements concerning the phonetic aspect and would teach the pronunciation of each word correctly from the start. One additional implication is that any teacher of English must constantly deal with cases of particular vocabulary items learnt wrongly. The phenomenon of constantly using a wrong pronunciation of a word regardless of any attempts to teach the student out of it is, in some cases, so serious that it constitutes irreparable damage to a given person’s command of English. Whether really nothing can be done in such cases, and which factors determine success or failure in this sphere will also be analysed in this chapter.

In this discussion, the notion...

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