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Teaching Languages off the Beaten Track


Michal B. Paradowski

The 21st-century global linguistic landscape has seen many changes for language learners. New assessments have been made in a host of areas, especially regarding learners’ needs, motives, the target of instruction, and methodologies. The new realities, locales and purposes of communication all necessitate a shift in attitude and a new set of competencies is required of the teacher. This volume comprises a multi-faceted and thoughtful response to these changes in both modern reality and teaching philosophy. It is a study of a few of the other ways to tackle situations outside of norms and routines. The authors of this volume possess many years of teaching experience, and have stepped off the roads most travelled to explore new avenues and find novel solutions in foreign language teaching. This volume familiarises readers with contemporary theoretical debate and new research, and demonstrates how to easily translate these into practical, everyday classroom applications.
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From Theory to Practice: Understanding Cantonese and Mandarin English Learners’ Pronunciation Phenomena through Optimality Theory



Abstract: This chapter aims at discussing how Optimality Theory, a constraint-based theory, can provide a clear account of English pronunciation phenomena of learners with different linguistic backgrounds. The chapter will present the phonological structure of Cantonese, Mandarin and English and discuss the pronunciation phenomena of English consonants and consonant clusters among Cantonese and Mandarin learners of English. It will also discuss transfer and developmental effects on second language acquisition and illustrate how Optimality Theory, which takes both transfer and developmental effects into consideration, explains the varied pronunciation phenomena of the Chinese learners of English. It is concluded that the varied forms that learners produce reflect their individual progress in the continuum of second language acquisition and that Optimality Theory can capture and explain these acquisition differences. Also, in view of the varied pronunciation phenomena found among learners, it is suggested that language teachers should have knowledge of the native languages of the learners in order to identify the difficulties of learners with different linguistic backgrounds.

Keywords: SL phonology, English pronunciation, Optimality Theory

With the increasing contact between Hong Kong and Mainland China, young Mainland immigrants and Mainland students admitted to Hong Kong education institutions are increasing in number. Like the local Hong Kong students, they need to take English language courses which include the teaching of pronunciation and oral English in the local schools and universities. Since the local students mostly speak Cantonese natively and Mainland students mostly speak Mandarin natively, we can expect...

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