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TOPIC 9

2.THE ENGLISH PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEM.


2.1 SEGMENTAL FEATURES
2.2 SUPRASEGMENTAL FEATURES
3. TEACHING AND LEARNING MODELS AND TECHINQUES.
3.1 PERCEPTION AND DISCRIMINATION.
3.2 PRODUCTION AND ASSESSMENT.
4. PHONETIC CORRECTION.PROBLEMS FOR SPANISH SPEAKERS.

1.0 INTRODUCTION
Nowadays, learning English as a Foreign Language is essential in order to
have better chances in our society.

Due to the influence of the Communicative Approach, our current


education system has incorporated this functional and communicative
potential of language in its objectives and methodology, the ultimate goal
being the development of the students´ communicative competence, which
is one of the general objectives for Primary Education in the RD 126/2014
28th February which establishes the teaching requirements for Primary
Education nationwide.

Based on this view, I have chosen the topic ... because it is a good example
of how to work the Communicative Approach under different authors’
perspectives and showing, as examples, communicative activities.

2.THE ENGLISH PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEM.


2.1 SEGMENTAL FEATURES
In the teaching of English as a foreign language, it is important to choose
the variety of English we are going to present to our students without
forgetting the rest of the varieties.
I have chosen the British variety due to it is comprehensible for the rest
of communities speaking the language .
Therefore, the English phonological system will be described as General
British.

According to Mark Hancock in his book ‘’ English Pronuntiation in Use’’


written in 2003 and published by CUP, the segmental features are the
units that can be identified in the stream of speech and they can be
consonants or vowels. Also, we can describe phonemes as the smallest units
of sound that can mark the difference in meaning as opposed to other
sound of the same language. For instance: the phonemes /t/ and /d/ in
words like tie /tai/ or die /dai/.
In addition, we can have different phonetic performances, called
allophones. For instance, the phoneme /l/ can be pronounced different
depending on its position within the word. The words leg and hell contain
the phoneme /l/, but the first one is the ‘’light’’ /l/, always in pre-vocalic
position, and the second one is the ‘’dark’’ /l/, in post vocalic position.

Every phoneme can be described according to:


The 1 source and direction of the air stream, the 2 presence or absence of
vibration of the vocal folds (which produces voiced or voiceless sounds,
respectively) and 3 the position of the soft palate (when lowered we
produce nasal sounds or when raised, the air go through the mouth
producing oral sounds),
The 4 place of articulation is important as well, and it refers to the point in
the vocal tract at which the air stream finds some obstacle. We can
distinguish between:
Bilabial: when the lips come together.
Labio-dental: when the lower lip touches the upper front teeth. falla
Dental: when the tip of the tongue touches the upper front teeth. cid
Alveolar and post-alveolar: when the tip of the tongue touches the hard
palate.
Velar: when the back of the tongue touches the soft palate.
Glottal: when the vocal cords come together either completely.

Now I am going to focus on the CONSONANTS.


Most authors classify consonants according three parameters: manner of
articulation, place of articulation, and vibration (or not) of the vowel folds.
The manner of articulation refers to the way of interfering when the air
goes out.
1- If the closure is complete: we could find three types of consonants. I am
going to pronounce the consonant phonemes followed by a ‘schwa’ to
facilitate comprehension.

-Plosive: when the air is released explosively. The plosive consonants are:
/p/, /t/, /k/, /b/, /d/, /g/
- Affricative: that star as plosive, but the separation of the organs that
releases the air is slower. They are: /tr/, /dr/, /tʃ/ and /dʒ/
- Nasal: when the soft palate is lowered, then the air goes through the
nasal cavity: they are: /m/, /n/ and /ŋ/
2- Secondly, if the closure is partial, consonants are lateral. In this case,
the air stream is released through both sides of the contact. The only
English lateral consonant is /l/.

3- And thirdly, when two organs are approximate the air passes through
them with friction, consonants are fricative. They are: /f/, /v/, /θ/, /ð/,
/s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/ and /h/.
Semivowels that are considered vowel glides (deslizamientos). In English,
there are two: /w/ and /j/.

And Approximants are frictionless. The /r/ is the corresponding English


phoneme.

The place of articulation indicates the place where there is an obstruction


in the passage of the air and it refers to the part of the mouth that is in
contact with the tongue, except the bilabial, labio-dental and glottal, in
which the tongue does not intervene directly.
And the absence or presence of vibration of the vocal cords determines if
it is voiced or voiceless.
After having presented the consonants, now I am going to focus on
VOWELS.

A vocalic sound occurs when the air stream goes through the resonators
over the tongue without obstruction or constriction

This vowel chart was devised by Daniel Jones, which is used to indicate the
position of the tongue when producing vowel sounds. The close vowel takes
place when the tongue is close to the palate, and the mid or open vowel
takes place when the tongue is far from the palate.
The lips can be with a rounded or spread position in different degrees. The
front vowels are mostly produced with the lips spread whereas the back
ones, with the lips rounded. In order to represent them, the vowels
pronounced with rounded lips are placed within a circle and those ones with
the lips in spread position, within a square.

Another factor to distinguish vowels is their duration. They can be longer


(represented through the sign ‘:’ after them, or shorter

2.2 SUPRASEGMENTAL FEATURES

After having developed the segmental features, I will focus now on


suprasegmental features. According to David Crystal in his book ‘’ The
Cambridge Enccyclopaedia of Language’’ written in 1987 and published by
CUP, segmental phonology refers to “what you say”, and suprasegmental
phonology refers to “how you say what you say”.
Suprasegmental phonology involves characteristic such as stress, rhythm
and intonation, which affect all the segments of a unit of speech
including a syllable, word or sentence. Next, I will develop these features in
detail:
 Stress: It is the degree of prominence associated to a word or syllable. Or
the degree of “breath effort” with which a syllable is uttered.

There are 3 types of stress in English, which are: Primary stress, when
the stressed syllable is much more prominent as in the words “intrepid”
and it is marked with a high stroke (golpe); Secondary stress, the syllable
is stressed with less effort than the Primary stress as in the word
“disbelief”, it is marked with a low stroke; Unstressed syllables, which are
the syllables that do not carry any stress at all, as the words “the”.

 Rhythm: It can be defined as the pattern based on the relation between


stressed and unstressed syllables.
English, unlike other languages, has a “stressed-timed rhythm”. It means
that stressed syllables are produced at regular intervals of time. On the
contrary, languages as Spanish or French have a syllable-timed rhythm
which means that the time between stressed syllables would be shorter or
longer in proportion to the number of intervening syllables in an utterance.
 Intonation: It refers to the rises and falls in the pitch (entonación) of a
speaker´s voice used to convey or alter meaning in an utterance. The
concept of intonation is closely related to that of stress, the only
difference being that stress is related to individual words, whereas
intonation is related to a whole utterance.
There are three main intonation patterns used in English that are:
- Falling intonation: used in statements, question tags, commands and wh-
questions. What’s your name? You’re French, aren’t you?
- Rising intonation: used in yes/no questions, polite requests and
utterances containing an element of protest or surprise. Do you want a
coffee? Really?
- Falling-rising intonation: used in sentences where something is left
unspoken: contrast, to denote warning or threat. You must try it again.

According to Dell Hymes in his book ‘’On communicative Competence’’ written


in 1971 and published by University of Pennsylvania Press., fluency on supra-
segmental features is a difficult aim. For this reason it is advisable to work
on intonation, rhythm and stressed in a systematic way through dialogues,
songs, rhymes, word games, etc. Moreover, the games in groups favours the
development of the moral and civic education based on the cross-curricular
contents established by the Order of 20th of December 1994 of Conselleria
of education of the Valencian Government.

3. TEACHING AND LEARNING MODELS AND TECHINQUES.


3.1 PERCEPTION AND DISCRIMINATION.
According to the Organic Law 8/2013 of 9th December, for the
improvement of the educational quality (lomce) Communication is the basis
of understanding among human beings, and in order to work on perception,
the language input presented to the students must show 1good
pronunciation patterns, and, as far as possible, 2different voices and
varieties of language. 3The teacher is the most important source of
language input, so I adapt the messages to my students’ characteristics
following the order of 16th July 2001 about attention to diversity in Infant
and Primary Education.
Moreover, the key to success is that as Stephen Krashen says in his book
‘’Second Language Learning and Second Language Acquisition’’ written in
1981 and published by Longman, the language input should be at a slightly
higher level than students are able to produce, but a level they can
understand’’

Moreover, pronunciation teaching 1does not concentrate only on the


production of individual sounds, it is important to give students 2training in
supra-segmental features and sounds 3must appear contextualized to
acquire a meaningful learning.
To work on discrimination, sometimes I put into practice the following
activity:
Firstly, they are going to recognize sounds through minimal pairs (that are
pairs of words that are different in only one respect). I write two columns
with five pairs and the students repeat the first column and later, the
second column. Later, two consecutive sounds are presented to the
students (like ship/sheep tree/three) and they have to answer if they are
the same one repeated or two different ones. It also can be done using
sentences.

It is important to do it in short sessions, several times, so as to students


do not get bored.

3.2 PRODUCTION AND ASSESSMENT.

In my year planning, I organize the session, which lasts 45 minutes as it is


established in the RC 7/2014 of 15th of July which establishes the
guidelines of the beginning of the academic year, and I work with different
activities creating different contexts with different elements of a
linguistic situation. I do it through different games and in this way the
students learn playing.

As I have already explained, pronunciation learning must be integrated in


the lesson, and specific activities to develop the students’ pronunciation
must be prepared.

I usually use dialogues because they are appropriate for teaching and
learning pronunciation, as they provide a linguistic and situational context.
As David Nunan says in his book ‘’Designing Tasks for the Communicative
Classroom’’ written in 1989 and published by CUP, dialogues must be
authentic in order to keep al characteristics of real language, and they
should be short to students do not get bored.

There are many other activities in which the teaching of pronunciation can
be approached. For instance, I have adapted an activity from the Carol
Read’s book ‘’ 500 activities for the Primary School’’ written in 2007 and
published by MacMillan education, to work on intonation and pitch, in which
the students are asked to say ambiguous sentence or phrase (for instance
It’s time to live) in various ways to reflect emotions (for instance: happy,
frustrated, tired, etc). After practicing for a while, the students can test
each other with different sentences trying to see which the emotions are.
They also can use the ELP which is a project launched in 2001 by the
Council of Europe in an effort to support learner autonomy and
plurilingualism, recording their interactions and including them in the
Dossier, which is a collection of samples of their work where they record
their learning achievements.
This is a tool that allows students to create strategies to learn developing
the learning to learn competence Following the Recommendation 2006/962
of the European Parliament and the Council of 18th December on key
competences for lifelong learning.

Regarding assessment, it is difficult to evaluate the pronunciation of


foreign language learners. Generally speaking, the pronunciation of primary
students should only be corrected when their mistakes impede
understanding.
In any case, feedback is most important. But a good way to provide
students with the opportunity to compare with the models is recording
their productions and comparing them with the models. In this way, they
can study and realize the differences.

4. PHONETIC CORRECTION.PROBLEMS FOR SPANISH SPEAKERS.

Once I have dealt with production and assessment, I will consider the last
part of the topic, the phonetic correction. When learning a FL, we tend to
transfer our own sound system and produce sounds which we use in our
native language. Some of the most remarkable differences between
pronunciation in English and Spanish languages are:
1. English has a more complicated vowel system than Spanish. English uses
12 vowel phonemes while Spanish uses 5.
2. English has 24 consonant phonemes, Spanish has 20.
3. We are not used to accentuate 3 or 4 syllable words on their first
syllables.
4. Rhythm in Spanish is syllable-timed, whereas English is stressed-timed
5. We Spanish speakers tend to use a very narrow pitch range.
Regarding the students´ pronunciation mistakes, we should correct them at
the presentation and the practice stage, where accuracy is more important
than fluency. We can use several techniques to indicate that students have
made a mistake, for instance asking the student to repeat what he said,
asking the student whether what he said is correct or telling the student
about the mistake and asking him to repeat it.
At the production stage, we should not correct students very often so as
not to discourage them and make them lose self-confidence.

5. CONCLUSION
To conclude, I would like to remark that, as I have proven in this topic, the
emphasis on teaching the phonological features of English has traditionally
been on the accurate pronunciation of vowels and consonants, that is, the
segmental features of language. Fortunately, a new approach has extended
in FLT contexts and the suprasegmental features of language, such as
stress, rhythm and intonation are now considered to be very important at
both comprehension and production stages.

6. BIBLIOGRAPHY.
 Hancock, Mark (2003): English Pronunciation in Use. CUP
 Nunan, David (1989): Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. C.U.P.
 Krashen, Stephen (1981) ‘’Second Language Acquisition and Second Language
Learning’’ Longman
 Hymes, Dell (1971) “On Communicative Competence” University of
Pennsylvania Press.
 Read, Carol (2007): 500 activities for the Primary Classroom. Macmillan
Education.
 Crystal, David (1997). “The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language” CUP

7. LEGAL FRAMEWORK.

1. Organic law 8/2013, 9th December, for the improvement of educational


quality (LOMCE)
2. RD 126/2014 of 28th February.
3. D 108/2014 of 4th July
4. Order of 20th of December of 1994 about Cross Curricular Contents.
5. Order 16th July of 2001, about attention to diversity
6. Recommendation 2006/962 of the European Parliament and the Council of
18 December on key competences for lifelong learning.
7. RC 7/2014 of 15th of July
8. ELP which is a project launched in 2001 by the Council of Europe in an
effort to support learner autonomy and plurilingualism

8. MAIN CONCEPTS
English phonological system
Segmental features: consonant and vowels
Suprasegmental features: stress, rhythm and intonation
Perception, discrimination, production and assessment of sounds
Phonetic correction

Other main concepts:

Phonemes and allophones

Daniel Jone’s diagram