Anthropological, biological , and psychological approaches are included in other essays, some but by no means all ofwhich represent attempts to deal with contemporary questions. In summary, these forty-one essays represent a contribution to the history of theories of language origin rather than a survey of current investigation. Jeep, The University of Chicago. Nearly Anselmian in its virtues—one can hardly conceive of a more comprehensive or better organized reference work—is A. Though G first published this account of RP in , he has twice revised and supplemented the book to keep it up-to-date in both descriptive accuracy and theoretical orientation.

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The Recent History of Pronunciation Teaching in English Language Teaching by Steve Hirschhorn In Europe, pronunciation teaching prior to the late 19th c relied largely on imitation along with approximations derived from spelling and so, unsurprisingly, little was written on the topic in comparison with the teaching of structure or meaning.

This scarcity of recorded information may result from a lack of technical understanding which is quite likely, but perhaps also because classical language study the main area of scrutiny in the literature never really required learners to engage in communicative interaction.

Firth writing in makes the point nicely: The more you talk like a book, the less your pronunciation matters! If, as in the case of Grammar Translation, language is seen as a theoretical study or a means to enable further study of, for example literature, then pronunciation plays an awkward and tuneless second fiddle to the great instruments of structure, syntax and vocabulary.

The Reform Movement of the late 19thc changed all that, and in fact the face of language teaching for ever. The intellectual leader of the group, Henry Sweet, might in a sense be seen as the father of pronunciation teaching since it is primarily his work in the last third of the 19th and beginning of the 20thc which brought phonetics into the practical arena of language teaching for the first time.

Sweet began the analysis of the relationship between sound production and vocal organs which we now take for granted; this work being developed extensively by Daniel Jones and later by his student, A. Gimson in An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English Discussing the state of language teaching in , Harold Palmer describes a situation in which branches of research are beginning to co-operate.

He cites pronunciation work especially: For years past phoneticians have been busily engaged with research work […] a universal terminology is coming into existence […] a universal phonetic alphabet is well on its way […] the principles of phonetics and phonetic transcription are developing rapidly… 77 He notes that similar co-operation and advances are not being undertaken in grammar and semantics, but is nonetheless optimistic for the future. Palmer hoped that aligned fields of science would work together to examine some burning questions, in that sense, to some degree, he was right.

Included in this work is a clear reference to the teaching and learning of pronunciation: if ear training is neglected during the elementary stage he [the learner] will replace foreign sounds by native ones and insert intrusive sounds into the words of the language he is learning. Palmer believes that adults in whom the capacity to learn is now dormant, must have that facility reawakened by a series of exercises.

This list informs us of the importance Palmer attached to pronunciation training and as a consequence, we are able to discern that language was being treated at least to some degree, as a system of meanings, the 2 surely go hand in hand. Historically the practice of pronunciation teaching falls into two main categories or theories: Intuitive and analytical. The first, intuitive, relying on imitation, the teacher models something and students repeat and the second, analytical, being reinforced by explanations of articulatory processes.

The intuitive methodology was generally more accessible to the teacher who may or may not have received some training and probably to students too and so, the analytical procedures never really gained a firm foothold until the early 20th c. In the hundred years between around and , there had been a sense that language was ultimately not describable but the Reform Movement was instrumental in dispelling that sense.

It is probably no coincidence that the ability to describe sound production corresponded with technological advances allowing us to record and replay the human voice with ever-increasing accuracy.

So, helpful and precise descriptions of pronunciation processes became available to teacher and student alike. Charles Fries in Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language, , which advocates the oral approach, says: In learning a foreign language, then, the chief problem is not […] learning the vocabulary items.

Fries however, is clear as most of his contemporaries are that language learning is a matter of good habit formation. The Oral Approach places pronunciation teaching or training centrally as Fries says: The speech is the language. He has a system of relative tones, numbered , which at first sight is quite daunting and must have been more so for the learner, possibly unused to linguistic analysis of any formal sort.

Fries emphasised the need to develop a discriminatory listening skill before attempting to pronounce. Fries advises that the instructor should provide a description of how sounds are articulated — not dissimilar to the way some teachers might go about it today. Exaggerated imitation was also employed by Fries as was the technique of reading an L1 text using L2 sounds and pitch to encourage students to compare the sound systems. The use of an analytical approach is one of the features, which distinguishes the Oral Approach from the Direct Methodists of the early 20th c who held no truck with analytical processes.

Imitation was the norm since it was assumed that L1 was learned by imitation. We are though now combining intuitive and analytical theories since Nilsen and Nilsen present drills for the student, example sentences which purport to provide contextual clues and also explanations of articulation in the form of diagrams and technical descriptions. Peter MacCarthy in his publication: The Teaching of Pronunciation suggests an auditory training regime comprising discrimination exercises, comparison exercises and technical description by students and teacher.

They can do this in L1 or L2. In the early 70s we still hold on to the notion that L1 interference or transfer is the main cause of learner error despite F. David Wilkins in his general investigation of Linguistics in Language Teaching notes that context will usually assist the speakers whose pronunciation would otherwise not meet expected standards of comprehension. To understand this better, if we had a language which contained 4 phonemes unlikely, I know but bear with me , we would need to pay very great attention to the features of those phonemes since every detail would have to contain more or less vital information for the comprehension of the message.

During the s with the expansion of Communicative Language Teaching CLT , pronunciation was left rather on the sideboard by many materials writers; strange if we consider that the more language is seen as a theoretical study, the less pronunciation is central. What little there was tended to be segmental. Perhaps we can briefly overview some of the material from the period: Streamline English, , offers drills in a variety of formats and little more than listen and repeat.

Instead, if we look up pronunciation in the index we can access a comment here and there such as the words discussion on page The revised edition published in has a complete chapter on pronunciation including a little theory and some copies of pronunciation activities.

Even the otherwise ground-breaking Cobuild published in offered scant assistance to teacher or learner regarding pronunciation. There are some 20 practical suggestions in that ELTJ article on how one might go about using the principles of voice setting. Here then we find not just an important observation but also a clue that the climate was right for change. And then of course in Adrian Underhill published Sound Foundations.

This was and is a multi-facetted work, which has inspired many practising EL teachers to get into more creative ways of handling pronunciation training. In , Rodney Jones in Methodology in Language Teaching notes that most current techniques and task types designed for the teaching of pronunciation: continue to be based on behaviourist notions of second language learning, largely relying on imitation and discrimination drills, reading aloud and contrastive analysis of L1 and L2 sound systems.

But of course the impetus and motivation to examine these must come from the classroom. Jennifer Jenkins notes in her publication, The Phonology of English as an International Language, that there are elements of pronunciation that cannot be learned in the classroom. She also reminds us that motivation may well be a key. This year, Mark Hancock has added another valuable work to the body of practical resources in his 4 volume set: Pronunciation Workouts, Puzzles, Pairworks and Poems.

These books generally offer teachers accessible ideas on pronunciation work supported by some technical description. So how far have we come? Firth, J. Schools of Linguistics Hutchinson Thornbury, S. Press Underhill, A. Sound Foundations Macmillan Wilkins, D. Linguistics in Language Teaching Arnold Related posts:.





Gimson's pronunciation of English



The Recent History of Pronunciation Teaching in English Language Teaching



An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English


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