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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ExpatLuke wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:
Sashadroogie wrote:
Outdated, perhaps. Do learners who take these classes display any significant improvement in their pronunciation, or in their ability to discriminate between problematic phonemes?


I remember reading Scott Thornbury citing a study on his blog claiming that students who have dedicated pronunciation instruction didn't see any significant improvement in pronunciation over those that didn't.


Yes... I think this is the link to the blog...

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/p-is-for-pronunciation/

I had read that awhile ago. It's interesting stuff.


How about diction and elocution, do they belong in the same category? Big money in elocution lessons. Have a listen to Michael Schumaker. Same goes with diction, big money being made in the studios.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott Thornbury has officially gone a bit loopy. See Dogme [Wikipedia will find it] for some really silly ideas about teaching and learning English. It's as if Thornbury has got bored with teaching and is finding excuses for not doing any!

I admit I'm exaggerating but I now take a lot of what Thornbury has to say with a pinch of salt.

I tend to ascribe to the notion that languages are LEARNED not TAUGHT. As teachers we should make it easier for the learners to learn. Being encouraged to notice how English sounds are made and getting feedback on your own attempts to make them rather than substituting an approximate sound from your own language must help and indeed any teacher who has really tried to help students with their pronunciation in an organized and knowledgeable manner will testify that it leads to improvement - usually rapidly [perhaps with the exception of French learners].

Such improvement is fleeting however and will regress if not constantly monitored and corrected. It is a skill that must be honed and maintained or it will be lost.

That's why I'm suspicious of pronunciation courses - 'I've done the pronunciation course therefore I know it and can forget about it all....'

I used to study a martial art and the ethos is the same. You may have done an exercise a thousand or more times - but if you don't keep doing it you lose the benefits. Same with pronunciation. The muscles become weak and you cannot find the correct position for the articulators.
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LarueLarry



Joined: 05 Jul 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:


I used to study a martial art and the ethos is the same. You may have done an exercise a thousand or more times - but if you don't keep doing it you lose the benefits. Same with pronunciation. The muscles become weak and you cannot find the correct position for the articulators.


Exactly. And beginner students need to learn to produce the segmentals that aren't found in their native language. Have you ever seen a low-level student trying to get their tongue between their teeth to produce an interdental? It's comical, but they have to train that muscle.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LarueLarry wrote:
skarper wrote:


I used to study a martial art and the ethos is the same. You may have done an exercise a thousand or more times - but if you don't keep doing it you lose the benefits. Same with pronunciation. The muscles become weak and you cannot find the correct position for the articulators.


Exactly. And beginner students need to learn to produce the segmentals that aren't found in their native language. Have you ever seen a low-level student trying to get their tongue between their teeth to produce an interdental? It's comical, but they have to train that muscle.


I had one just the other day, one young lass just couldn't get the 'S' sound and kept on with the 'Sh' sound. My knee jerk reaction was to giggle, because it is funny, but having learnt a second language, I can empathise with these difficulties; it takes practise, practise, practise and even then it is not guaranteed.

Interdental? That reminds me, I must go to the dentist.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8balldeluxe wrote:
Quote:
One must learn to stand one's ground. If not, accept that it is just for the money and have a certain exit plan. For me, I just couldn't do it year in, year out with the knowledge of selling myself out - I can and want to do better.
One thing I have noticed is when I have said no, even though I may never work at that place again I can see it in their eyes, they lost, they know it and they give that much respect back. But... this will always cost us, never them.

Some places have become immune to this because so many teachers have stood their ground, then walked or tried to draw a line somewhere, anywhere and it didn't matter. The schools haven't gotten the message that it's for a good reason, and just gotten worse I think. Instead of learning from it they have just gotten more callous or decided foreign teachers are difficult. I think there has been little or no progress in these sorts of problems, its like a broken record.


It's paradoxical isn't it, people can't learn English fast enough to get out but we, as native English teachers, are second class. Another, is the stubborn determination of local teachers giving out tests to students that are just so incredibly dry and demanding. Really heavy and obscure usage of language that native speakers hardly use. That, and the fact these teachers get the structures and meanings all wrong.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8608
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vabeckele wrote:
ExpatLuke wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:
Sashadroogie wrote:
Outdated, perhaps. Do learners who take these classes display any significant improvement in their pronunciation, or in their ability to discriminate between problematic phonemes?


I remember reading Scott Thornbury citing a study on his blog claiming that students who have dedicated pronunciation instruction didn't see any significant improvement in pronunciation over those that didn't.


Yes... I think this is the link to the blog...

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/p-is-for-pronunciation/

I had read that awhile ago. It's interesting stuff.


How about diction and elocution, do they belong in the same category? Big money in elocution lessons. Have a listen to Michael Schumaker. Same goes with diction, big money being made in the studios.


Do people still go to elocution classes?
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VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 259

PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My ramblings on this topic.

I've had to do pronunciation classes of 30 minutes up to 120 minute lengths.

My experience depends on the age of the students and even the size of the class.

'th', 'ts', 'st', final sounds such as 'd', some long vowel sounds, some beginning consonants such as 'p' or 'b' especially as digraphs are all examples of problem areas for VN students. Pronouncing a word properly and then pronouncing the same word properly within a phrase or sentence can be quite different accomplishments.

Black and blue can be lack and lue. Its, what's and that's can be iss, wass and thass.

'This is a...' can be 'this i a...'.

Enunciation can be a bigger issue than pronunciation.

The final 's' is certainly an issue but imho it can be easier to fix than a student who says 'I'm' instead if 'I' or 'this i a...' or even a student who insists on making an 'f' or 'm' sound in a word that has no such sound. 'n' instead of 'l' from Hanoi students (I'm in HCMC).

I think working on pronunciation and enunciation within the context of an English class is worthwhile. The effects can be lasting especially if the VN teacher for the class is involved. But the students can be quite adept at pronouncing things the way you want in your class while mispronouncing things the way the full time VN teacher wants in their class.

The whole class may sound as if they are doing it right but checking individual students you may find lots of problems. The whole class says 'black' but having each student say this word reveals that a sizable number are saying 'lack' while some mumble and a couple just operate their mouths with no sound being produced whatsoever. You may also have the student that says 'mlacus'.

Using up 90 minutes can easily be done IMHO. Try teaching a 45 minute class when the VN teacher gives you precisely 4 words for a class of 40-50 students when 80-90% of the students already know them. That's nuts.

Work on the sound, then on the sound in a word as a beginning, middle and final sound, work the sound into a sentence or phrase. Individual attention. Deal with the idiosyncratic issues. Keep it fresh, fast paced and entertaining. You may find 2 hours isn't quite enough.

I have a very small number of deaf students that insist on working on their pronunciation and taking their turn in speaking activities. They are quite aggressive and emotional about this. Perhaps I'm just assisting them to lip read and be lip read but one student has started trying to speak aloud.

This business is a challenge. I love it. It's far more fascinating to do it in a foreign country. I can't imagine enjoying it as much back home. Not to mention that I'd make real money doing something else back home.
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