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Dropping final consonant in pronunciation

 
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esolteach



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2005 9:28 pm    Post subject: Dropping final consonant in pronunciation Reply with quote

I have Vietnamese speakers that are dropping the final English consonants in words. I am continually working on their pronunciation for them to sound more like native speakers and to be understood. Their classroom teachers have also asked me for suggestions for them to use. The children are in Kindergarten through third grade. Any ideas? I have used audio programs on the web, classroom songs, chants, etc. I know their classroom teachers would like something the students could work on independently and this is my main need. Thank you!
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neilhrd



Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Location: Nanning, China

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 9:38 am    Post subject: I understand your problem Reply with quote

I have the same problem with Chinese speaking students in Nanning, South West China. This is particularly noticable when the last consonant is "t". It causes real communication problems because the student's don't hear the final "t" either and therefore often confuse negative short forms such as "don't " with the positive "do".

I have not completely solved the problem but I have found that the following suggestions do help a bit:-

1) Exagerrate the final "t" when pronouncing the words myself for the students to imitate.

2) Listen for missed "t"s in conversation and keep reminding and drilling the students to pronounce the final "t" every time they fail to do so.

3) Communication exercises such as chain games where the crux of the message is the difference between "do" and "don't" or "can" and can't". This teaches the students that correct pronunciation matters in real life and is not just the teacher being pedantic. This was particularly effective with a group of student nurses whose failure to communicate the message that a patient couldn't be given penecillin would have led to a fatality in real life. I wish I had a photo of their faces afterwards when the point sank in.

4) I avoid teaching short forms such as "won't" in the first instance. I make sure that the students understand the full form "will not" before teaching the short form. I often follow up with a short piece of sentence dictation to test recognition of the final consonant. I find that once students can hear it their pronunciation also improves.

5) With long words I generally find that the students have most difficulty with the last consonant because a polysyllabic English word requires quite different visual decoding skills to a short Chinese character . I get round this by "breakbacking" i.e writing the word on the board broken down into syllables and teaching the last syllable first so that this is the one which sticks in the students mind.

These suggestions are not a complete answer and if you , or anyone else, has any other ideas I would be delighted to hear them. After all a problem shared is often a problem solved.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it depends on what dialect of English you are teaching. I, for example, would never have my students exaggerate the final "t" because in American English it is usually not pronounced. The initial "t" has two parts to it--the beginning articulation (you put your tongue in the right place) and the aspiration (the infamous "puff of air".)

In American English, the final "t" often has no aspiration at all, and just ends with the articulation. It is more easily seen with a "p" sound, as the word ends with the mouth closed. When I teach this to my students I also explain that aspirating the "t" at the end is also acceptable, although not as common here, and that there are many varieties of English. The most important thing is to understand and be understood.

Anyway, the final "t" has an effect on the previous vowel, of making it shorter, just as the final "d" has the effect of making the previous vowel longer. This happens for all the sound pairs that are voiced/voiceless. (p/b; t/d; k/g; s/z; f/v; ch/j and whichever ones I forgot Wink )

So, for example, if students are confusing "back" and "bag" when speaking, lengthening the vowel for "bag" will be very helpful.
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 6:51 am    Post subject: Betty Batter Reply with quote

Good morning all.

Here's a suggestion for a specific activity.

Relax their vocal aparatus by doing some sound streching exercises using whatever vowel sounds that you find in these three words:

Bet bat but

Do a sound isolation exercise with a sound that is articulated more or less as a t is articulated. If that sound is a d or an l, then you can begin with a simple

la la la la or li le la lo lu

then help them to transform that sound to the t with the same exercise. Let them put it at the beginning of the sylable, what's needed here is that they do something they are comfortable with with their tongue while thinking about what their tongue is doing and how to alter that to make that other sound.

Then you can relax their throats again.

Note on the board (or a sheet of paper if the class is more intimate) the Betty Batter tongue twister. The one I use goes:

Betty Batter bought some butter but she found the butter bitter.
When she put it in her batter she found it made the batter bitter.
Soooooo, Betty Batter bought some better butter.

Focus on the vowel sounds, which you have already introduced as the main focus of the exercise. However, you are actually controlling the t as a bridge between vowel sounds. The t on can't in the middle of a sentence just might not be there or might be heading off the next part of the sentence. I myself make it as a glottal stop before a consonant "He can't go to the zoo." and before a vowel sound I usually stick it on the sylable that starts with a vowel "He can't eat with you today."

Offer some reward to those who come to the next class with the tt memorized and recited with a nice rythm and pretty good pronunciation or maybe even just for making the effort, which is important to recognize and reward as well, especially with younger ones (liar, even the adults like your little games and pay-outs!).

peace,
revel.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always use:

Betty had a bit of bitter butter that made her batter bitter, so Betty bought a bit of better butter and made her batter better.

Of course, I'm using it to teach the "flap" Americans put in words like "water" and "butter" and not the aspirated t, so the sounds in "had a" and "made her" are the same too.
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neilhrd



Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Location: Nanning, China

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestions Lorikeet. They are interesting. I am actually British and so instinctively teach as I speak which may be part of the problem. The school move teachers around like chess pieces and my colleagues are either American or Chinese so the students do get confused with the different accents.

The idea of exagerrating the final consonant when I first introduce a new word is to help the students to hear it because if I don't then they don't articulate it at all.

I take your point about minimal pairs. I have tried the classic drill of getting the students to hold a piece of paper in front of their mouths and watch whether it moves or not to explain the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds. But I find that Chinese children are embarrassed and unwilling to do this. They seem to have some kind of cultural hangup about it. Has anyone else had this experience and if so how did you get around it?
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, the paper in front of the mouth shows the difference between aspirating and not aspirating (it's the "puff of air" that you can see) but not voiced and voiceless. For voiced and voiceless, I usually have them put their hands on their throat and make a long hiss (/s/). Then I have them do the same trying to make a buzz (/z/). They should feel the vibration that is the earmark of voicing. It works with s/z and f/v but it doesn't work well with stops because the voicing isn't the most important thing. To me, the important thing is the effect the voicing has on the previous vowel (the lengthening) although I don't know if the same thing happens in British English.
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neilhrd



Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Location: Nanning, China

PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2005 11:51 pm    Post subject: Lengthening the previous vowel Reply with quote

The problem of students dropping the final " t" came up again in class yesterday. Modelling with my mouth and the puff of air trick worked for about half the class. But the rest were still struggling so I tried your suggestion of teaching the lengthening of the previous vowel sound.

As these are 7 year old children I team teach with a Chinese partner. She was horrified as she was not aware of this aspect of pronunciation. But once I calmed her down it worked really well. I mimed long and short with my hands as I spoke to emphasise the point. They loved it and most of the class improved.

So thanks for the suggestion.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2005 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh neat. Glad it worked some. Wink
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