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Songs can help ESL pronuciation

 
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brucerichman



Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:49 pm    Post subject: Songs can help ESL pronuciation Reply with quote

I am looking for a collaborator for a project involving using the singing of songs (and the reciting of song lyrics) as a method of improving ESL students' pronunciation. If you are interested please contact me at brucerichman22@yahoo.com
I am also interested in a general discussion and any help on this topic!
Bruce Richman
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know... songs are fun and they decrease anxiety students may have about pronunciation practice. They're also a good way to learn about rhyming, an important phonological awareness skill.

Despite all that, though, I would be cautious about introducing songs for pronunciation improvement. The problem is twofold. First, songs contain a lot of sounds--ones you might not have worked on in class yet. If students butcher those other sounds do you just ignore it? What if they practice that incorrect pronunciation over and over as they keep singing the song? Second, songs contain a lot of instances of the sounds you *are* working on, and as such should be used only when students are already pretty good at the sounds. All in all, I'd wait to use songs until the students' pronunciation was already quite good and they could handle the speech-sound difficulty level.

-EH
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brucerichman



Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear DH, Thanks for your reply. When I said that songs can help pronunciation I meant, first, they can help with rhythm and word stress, and later on, they can help with hearing and producing individual sounds. If you can't hear sounds you can't produce them; and rhythm and stress are absolutely essential in English for hearing words and, thus, sounds, and thus being able to imitate and produce them!
Bruce Richman
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, rhythm and word stress really are essential in English. Some songs might help with that. But you'd have to choose carefully, because a lot of songs represent distortions of appropriate speech patterns. That is to say, you might learn great singing rhythm and stress contours from songs, but not necessarily great speaking skills. I'd still err on the side of caution when introducing songs.

Also, you said, "If you can't hear sounds you can't produce them."
You might be interested in this weird bit of trivia: speech-language pathology research shows that one *doesn't* first need to discriminate a sound from others in order to articulate it accurately. Sometimes students can pronounce a sound very well before they get good at hearing it well. I had trouble believing it at first, but with time I found it to be true in many cases. Sometimes hearing a sound is faster developing, other times producing a sound comes first.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1372
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EH wrote:

Also, you said, "If you can't hear sounds you can't produce them."
You might be interested in this weird bit of trivia: speech-language pathology research shows that one *doesn't* first need to discriminate a sound from others in order to articulate it accurately. Sometimes students can pronounce a sound very well before they get good at hearing it well. I had trouble believing it at first, but with time I found it to be true in many cases. Sometimes hearing a sound is faster developing, other times producing a sound comes first.


I have students who are able to pronounce a sound well, but if they can't hear it, they tend not to be able to recreate it at will. That is, the recognition and production seem to be related. Have you found that not to be the case? Or is it just that the order of which is "first" may vary?
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's meat for thought:

Sometimes when I am doing some drills they produce the 'right' sound, maybe they recognise it at first and them produce it, maybe unconciously? But when performing a dialogue or the like, they tend to fail (I mean when they are doing something that demands more their alertness).

José
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 5:26 am    Post subject: l vs r Reply with quote

Hey all.

Been thinking on this one for a couple of days and the latest posts tend to "support" my own point of view on this particular egg/chicken debate. I've brought an earlier thread from pronunciation to the forefront, from which I gleen the following quote:

"After hours and hours of minimal pair work, making my [Japanese] students do physical, speech therapy type exercises, I was able to get any one of them to pronounce a nice l or an acceptable r when they were thinking about it. We were even able to apply such work on their speaking habits, slowly correcting the switch-over habit that is often considered inevitable and even an acceptable part of their native-tongue accent when speaking English. And yet, when my students read exercises, they suddenly “forgot” which sound to make when seeing an “l” or an “r” written. I immediately suspected visual interference, as that suffered by, for example, Spanish speakers when they see a “c” and want to pronounce it “th” or a “v” and want to pronounce it “b”, since that is the sound that that graphic symbol represents in their native, phonetically written, language. However, the Japanese don’t share our alphabet, so the sound that they attribute to those two symbols must have been learned.

And so it is, one Japanese student pointed out to me. Frustrated with his “inability” to correctly place his lips and tongue, I asked him just what sound he had learned for those two letters. In his case, his teacher back in Japan had explained to him that both letters represented the same sound, one that is probably not used in English, but which is close to the “r” or close to the “l” or maybe just in between them. Thus, when reading an “r” or an “l” and using that sound, what I heard was something that was so similar to the sound I expected, but was not quite right, and so must have been the other. The perfect change between the r and the l was not taking place in the student’s pronunciation, but rather, in my interpretation of the sound….he was always making the same sound for both of the letters in question. "

Naturally, part of sound production is the perception of sound. Deaf persons can be taught to produce sound even when they don't "hear" it but rather perceive it through the vibration it causes in their head bones. Those sounds that they learn are not learned through hearing them but rather through producing them. Some students might be able to produce sounds simply through mimicing what they hear, but in the end, a sound is the result of the active articulation of the sound and not because of the passive hearing of the sound. Though the perception of the sound should not be set aside, a new sound needing to be recognized and repeated until it becomes familiar, I tend to believe that it is through the correct articulation and production of that sound the student begins to hear it and not vice-versa. As it is my experience in the classroom as well, I will continue to believe so.

peace,
revel.
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brucerichman



Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:40 pm    Post subject: perception is essential in normal learning Reply with quote

When I said that in learning you can't say what you can't hear, I merely meant a very mundane observation, from my own experience in hearing unknown- to- me languages and from classroom experiences. Now various forms of training based on written alphabets might overcome this; but as various responders in this thread have already said, can students use these newly learned productions freely in real conversation? Bruce
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

...can students use these newly learned productions freely in real conversation? Bruce


I believe they can, but it will always boils down to their natural ability and/or effort to do so. I read somewhere that getting used to produce now sounds is like working out, it takes some time for us to produce the right sounds in the target language, it's a matter of listening and practsing it....sometimes ad nauseum.

José
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Metamorfose--I agree completely. It takes huge amounts of practice to change sound productions. I'll always remember an excercise my articulation disorders professor had us perform. We were to have a 3-minute conversation with the person next to us, but make sure we changed all /t/ sounds to /s/ sounds. Not "t" letters, mind you, but just the /t/ sounds. It's incredibly difficult to do. I wanted to speak the way I usually did, but instead I had to change a single sound every time it came up in speech. That's the kind of thing we ask our ESL students to do when they work on pronunciation: change one familiar sound for another one that seems out of place. It's hard. It's possible, with practice and slower speed, but it's still hard.

Also, to answer Lorikeet: I've found the same thing as you. Students usually can't recreate a sound at will until they can "hear" it [have it in their phonological system]. But not always. I have definitely had clients who could say, for instance, /i/ and /I/ sounds really well at will but could not tell whether native speakers were saying "ship" or "sheep". Differential skill development is just a really individual thing.

-EH
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Pronunci



Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 23
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the songs from the children's TV program Between the Lions . I also developed a pronunciation software based on that TV program. The software has all the phonics rules and 4,000 words grouped by patterns. This way, if learners can say cake, then they can translate to difficult words such as fake, lake, or naked. Embarassed

I like to invite you to visit my website at http://www.PronunciationPatterns.com to learn more about the software and download a demo. Also, you can leave your comment at our guestbook at http://www.PronunciationPatterns.com/guest_book.html, because I like to hear your thoughts on my software.

Xin Wang
MBA of Class 2005
Carnegie Mellon University
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