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Private Tutoring -- /l/ /n/ Pronunciation Exercises - China

 
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Yelsel China



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 5:27 am    Post subject: Private Tutoring -- /l/ /n/ Pronunciation Exercises - China Reply with quote

I have begun tutoring a Chinese college freshman with excellent English vocabulary, and he has a hunger for learning perfect pronunciation. My biggest difficulty is that he cannot hear the difference between /l/ and /n/.

Consequently, when he says my name, Lesley, it sounds like "Nesley", or when he says his name, Lloyd, it sounds like "noyd". The placement of the tongue for these 2 consonants is SO close, and quite frankly, I can make an /l/ sound with my tongue in the /n/ position, so how can I coach him on this?

My next session with him is in a few days, so any help you can provide would be very much appreciated!
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Lorikeet



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

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually get that error from some of my Cantonese-speaking students. Apparently it can be pronounced either way by some Cantonese speakers, so it isn't significant to them. If I point out the difference and we practice listening/speaking minimal pairs, they can usually hear it, but they still make mistakes. Since /n/ is a nasal sound, I'd try explaining that /m/, /n/ and /ng/ are all nasals, and see if he can pretend he has a cold and try and make the /l/. If that doesn't work, I'd have him hold his nose and try it. Wink
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EH



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

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Lorikeet's ideas. Here are a few more:

Have the student place a finger horizontally against his upper lip, right under the nose. If he can feel a tiny puff of air (and vibration) tickling his finger when he makes the sound, then it's /n/. If not, it's /l/.

Also, although the tongue tip is in pretty much the same place for /n/ and /l/, the sides of the tongue are not. To make /n/, you have to seal off the oral cavity with the tongue sides up against the upper teeth. With /l/, the tongue sides don't usually touch anything at all. Try touching the sides of the student's tongue with an icy tongue depressor, or a chopstick dipped in something strong tasting (jam, vinegar, etc.) to make him more aware of those tongue areas and what they're up to when he phonates.

Another thing you might want to do is to see what contexts the student confuses the sounds in. For example, some students can totally tell the difference between two similar sounds at the end of words, but not at the beginning of words. Or perhaps the hardest context is in the middle of words, or after/before certain other sounds. You might find that the student is really good at sound discrimination in some contexts, and that might be a place to start from when you're picking stimulus words to teach.

Good luck,
-EH
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Yelsel China



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2003 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you guys for the suggestions. If anyone else has more, I would love to hear them b/c he is really set on getting it right. In response to EH's question as to when he has difficulty, it is mostly at the beginning of a word beginning with /l/ -- so my name has become Nesley (like Nestle). He still can't hear it, though. I will try the chopstick idea (since I don't have a tongue depressor, and I'd be hard pressed to know that in Mandarin). Laughing

Keep the suggestions coming if more people have ideas!
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Lorikeet



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

PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2003 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah good idea on the tongue position EH. I didn't pay attention to that. Wink
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EH



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

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2003 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually just got a catalogue from www.speechdynamics.com.
I've never ordered anything from them before so I don't know how good they are, but if you're looking for things like flavored tongue depressors, mouth mirrors (like dentists use), oral stimulation brushes, or pictures/diagrams of the mouth making different sounds, this might be a good place to try. Or, if (like me) you don't feel like spending money, it might at least be worth a look to get ideas.

-EH
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