17 Oct 2010

An Introduction to Pronunciation

Last week I asked some of you to try and transcribe a few words... I was utterly amazed when you told me you had never seen phonetic symbols in your lives! Well, we have to put a solution to that! In class, we'll see symbols little by little, normally in pairs or triplets. However, just for you to have a general idea of how pronunciation works in English, here I leave you with two videos I've found on the Internet.

The two main ideas in the first video are that:
  • Good pronunciation is very important but... what do we mean by good pronunciation? Well, you don't have to sound like a native speaker. The only important thing is that your pronunciation doesn't impede communication. In other words, your pronunciation has to be clear enough for other people to understand.
  • There are many English accents, and any model is as valid. I personally have a British accent, but if you prefer the American, Canadian or Australian, to cite but a few, that's perfectly fine!

In the second video you have a general overview of phonetic symbols and the International Phonetic Alphabet: what are they? why are they necessary? Are there the same number of letters and phonetic symbols? Do they coincide?

You have the complete list of phonetic symbols on pages 158 and 159 of your Student's Book. You also have a really useful list of the usual spellings for each sound. Please, have a quick look at it. And remember that you have plenty of practice for pronunciation, as well as grammar and vocabulary, in your multiROM!

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