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Hi guys, I'm so grateful for these replies.
First of all, I am not a native speaker nor a teacher. I learned English as a child and have a wee bit of accent which Americans would assume British, and Brits would say Australian. I don't realise myself but it is a bit confusing sometimes, so I'd just smile whenever I was told.
Thais have a very thick accent which they mispronounce "L" "R" "W" "V" and "TH" sounds. Since I have been living in Thailand for 5 years already, I have no problems with their way of speaking English. I think if she was in the states or UK, she'd not be easily understood with her accent, and that is where I come in to fix.
I and my student had a brief lesson today, where we practised, "L" and "R". By the way, my student's reading skill is decent although I have not checked her writing yet. I suppose she is well exposed to native speakers since she is married to one, thus, always being around them.
I plan to work on phonetics, sentence intonations, consonant and colloquial expressions with her.
ThePersar, thank you so much for your excellent suggestion. I am definitely checking out the book you recommended, along with other work books.
AlexAD, you have raised an interesting question. I think having an accent makes you a more interesting person as long as it is easily understood. I do not personally care and a lot of my native speaker friends admit that they find a person, with a little bit of accent, more interesting.
However, when it comes to landing at a good job, being a leader in a social group, or whatever their personal reasons are, at least once in a life, they want to get rid of their heavy unnatural native accent. I do not think I can ever fix my student's accent and I will not try because it is nearly impossible for her. Nonetheless, my job is to correct her mispronunciation, well, that's why I am hired. I have to put every effort to help her.
Last edited by Zelicious; 19-May-2011 at 13:11.
Last edited by Zelicious; 19-May-2011 at 18:05.
Now, I can teach her forever but if she does not have strong a desire for a "change" and lack of "concentration", nothing will help, even god comes down and teach. As I said in my previous post, we worked shortly today. I taught her it is "result" not "wesult", after repeating a few times, she could say "result". Then I moved to next word, for example "review", she would pronounce "wewoo", we repeated and she corrected but she would pronounce again "wesult" if I asked again!
Last edited by Zelicious; 19-May-2011 at 14:37.
If you are worried that your learner's accent is affecting the intelligibility of her speech, then it is a good idea to help her improve her pronunciation. This does not jsut involve showing her how to pronounce words, but also teaching her to hear them.
Dictation exercises are a useful way to analyse what she is hearing. Say a short sentence at a normal speaking pace, without seperating the words or slowing down. Repeat it a couple of times and see what she writes down. When you have seen this you can say it again more slowly so she does not become demotivated. If you can better understand how a learner hears, you can understand why they talk the way they do.
It is important that she can differentiate between sounds. Minimal pairs activities are useful for this. The learner is introduced to pairs of words that are similar, but have one different sound (e.g. 'bat' and 'bait'). The teacher reads a word and the learner circles the one they hear.
To teach phonemes the learner must be able to 'see' how the sound is produced, as they might not be able to identify sounds aurally. She could use a mirror to watch her own mouth as she tries to imitate yours. The lips, jaw and tongue are all used to produce sounds, and they may be voiced or unvoiced (eg. /b/ and /p/ have the same mouth shapes, but the voice box is active when you say /b/).
It is not just individual sounds (segmental features) that we use. Things like stress and intonation are important too (suprasegmental features). The latter is quite hard to teach.
Also it would be useful to research 'connected speech'. When we put words together and talk quickly the sounds change. Most native speakers are not aware of this, but it can really affect a learner's ability to understand speech, and produce it well.
"How to teach pronunciation" by Gerald Kelly or "Sound Foundations" by Adrian Underhill are both excellent books.
But bear in mind that the idea of completely "getting rid" of an accent may not be desirable. Bear in mind that accent is tied up with identity, and people may subconciously hold on to their old accents.
I hope this is helpful. It's a big area, but is well worth researching.
I am not a teacher, but I do work with a lot of foreign clients. An accent is "charming" if it does not hinder communication. When a native speaker has to strain and concentrate to understand a foreign speaker, it makes things a lot harder.
For all involved.
Accent is not only pronunciation, it is also rhythm and emphasis.
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