Push towards learning ‘sounds’ of English

At a recent TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference, an interesting point was brought up about the learning of English. Dr Peter Waters, from German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), presented “Sounds: Avenues for Language Learning”, a presentation about English pronunciation. He addressed the common problem of students not being trained to understand just the sounds of English (rather than how words are spelled).

There are far fewer sounds in English than there are ways to spell them, and this inconsistency often brings up problems for English learners. But what if the spelling part took a back seat to the pronunciation? For most people, communication is the first priority, so I think that for people who use mostly spoken English, this focus could be very useful.

There is also the problem that for many learners, the audio content they receive is ‘standard’ English. Unfortunately, if you have spent your whole learning career listening to people speak like the Queen of England, you won’t understand when ‘normal’ English speakers talk to you.

Luckily, there are a lot of websites these days that provide a wide range of pronunciations. I think the sooner learners hear more variance in their audio, the better for their chances of successful communication.

Full article: Zawya.com.

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