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Multiple consonants for Spanish Speakers, Minimal pairs

 
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raferguson



Joined: 05 Nov 2006
Posts: 4
Location: Colorado USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Multiple consonants for Spanish Speakers, Minimal pairs Reply with quote

I predominantly teach native Spanish speakers, of various levels, generally in classes of five or fewer students. I have noticed that one of their consistent problems relates to words having multiple consonants in a row.

For example, if the word is stop, they might pronounce it as es-top. Certainly the tendency to add the "e" sound to the beginning of words starting with "s" is very common. Words with three consonants in a row seem especially difficult. (IE. "strike").

A local ESL organization seems to be big on minimal pairs, which I have never used in class. Would minimal pairs be a good tool for teaching pronunciation of these multiple consonant words? Or are minimal pairs better suited to listening exercises?

My current practice is to break the word down to the individual syllables, or to the individual sounds. If I can get them to pronounce the component sounds, then I have better luck getting them to pronounce the entire word correctly.

Richard
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1366
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:55 am    Post subject: Re: Multiple consonants for Spanish Speakers, Minimal pairs Reply with quote

raferguson wrote:
I predominantly teach native Spanish speakers, of various levels, generally in classes of five or fewer students. I have noticed that one of their consistent problems relates to words having multiple consonants in a row.

For example, if the word is stop, they might pronounce it as es-top. Certainly the tendency to add the "e" sound to the beginning of words starting with "s" is very common. Words with three consonants in a row seem especially difficult. (IE. "strike").

A local ESL organization seems to be big on minimal pairs, which I have never used in class. Would minimal pairs be a good tool for teaching pronunciation of these multiple consonant words? Or are minimal pairs better suited to listening exercises?

My current practice is to break the word down to the individual syllables, or to the individual sounds. If I can get them to pronounce the component sounds, then I have better luck getting them to pronounce the entire word correctly.

Richard


I think the particular problem with Spanish speakers is that in Spanish (Espanol) you don't have a sp- or st- pronunciation. The word starts esp- or est-.

Minimal pairs are two words that sound the same except for one sound difference. For example, hit and heat, or bed and bad. You can't use minimal pairs if you don't have two words with one different sound. I don't see how you would use minimal pairs for the sp/esp problem. Perhaps you were just combining two thoughts in your post. (And yes, I use minimal pairs in my pronunciation class, for both listening and production. I think it helps students pay attention to how to make the sounds and helps them become aware of their pronunciation.)

With respect to the particular esp/sp problem, I usually explain to my students that there is an extra syllable when they add the "e" to the front. I have them practice by saying ssss first, and then ssssssstop and then stop.
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