Ict integration bodes well for effective and responsive pronunciation learning and teaching – part 1

Irrefutably, the popularity of information communications technology or ICT has changed almost all aspects of our life for the better and been of especial essence in education. Specifically, classroom instructions have been further facilitated, encouraging teachers to be more flexibly effective in their teaching with a view to thoroughly understanding varied types of leaners and their levels of competence (Mills, 2006). Hence, the relationship between teachers and students can be fostered, which is a substantial incentive for students to be more inclined to remain engaged in task assignment and fulfilment, forming a harmonious and meaningful teaching and learning environment (Wheeler, 2000). This paper is aimed at elucidating the efficacious teaching of some English consonants by using Pronunciation Power in computer-based classroom instructions.
  1. Introduction
It is unquestionable that English has gained a great deal of popularity in Vietnam and has been taught f-rom the early age in almost all schools and universities nationwide. Vietnamese students no longer strictly adhere to grammar-translation method of learning, they have recognized the dire need to foster their communicative skills, of which intelligible pronunciation plays a decisive role. As such, the communicative approach has become the catch-all term in the second language acquisition and that the primary goal of teachers is to train students to be more competently communicative in both their learning and future performance (Ric-hards & Renandya, 2002). Evidently, successful communication cannot take place without correct pronunciation or that pronunciation is key to communicative competence (Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin, 1996). To put it simply, pronunciation is so invaluable in verbal communication and foreign language learning that language learners in general are supposed to make great efforts to have correct pronunciation, which enables language learners to further develop their interests in their pronunciation acquisition and improve their understandability accordingly. Conversely, one of the intractable problems facing second language learners is how to articulate words precisely or having correct pronunciation in daily conversations. In areas deficient in computers and technology, both teachers and students are much inclined to be locked in an uphill struggle to deal with effective and meaningful pronunciation teaching and learning. Worse still, some teachers may have to entirely rely on their own pronunciation in efforts to help students with their pronunciation problems, which could be troublesome at times. Yet, with the help of such software as Pronunciation Power 1 or Pronunciation Power 2, such above mentioned obstables can be surmounted with relative ease. Basically, the classroom is recommended to be equipped with a projector, projection screen and a PC. This user-friendly pronunciation software boasts a wide array of lessons with ample number of exercises appropriate for different levels of learning capacity. When using the program, both teachers and students can look at detailed analysis of the sounds together and ponder how it should be articulated. Furthermore, there is also a pre-recorded presentation of a native teacher giving clear instructions on how to pronounce the sound in a correct manner. Teachers can then encourage students to attempt to emulate the speaker’s manner of articulation and repeat after the speaker when necessary. Besides students will be able to get plenty of exposure to some corresponding animated lessons, tasks and exercises packed with eye-catching photos and graphics so as to strengthen their comprehension of the purposes and aims of the lesson.
  1. Practical approaches to teaching English Pronunciation in ICT classes
In order to tackle problems with /θ/ and /ð/, for instance, instructors of English are supposed to memorize some general features of those two sounds. They are interdental fricatives. To pronounce these two sounds correctly, learners are advised to protrude the tongue slightly between the teeth. They can also be produced by placing the tip of the tongue lightly against the back of the top teeth and the air passes out over the tongue. The sounds are easiest to pronounce at the beginnings of words (thanks, this, thing), more difficult in medial position (other, weather, author) and most difficult at the ends of words (with, breathe, fourth) (Lane, 2010). The pronunciation of the two sounds can be included in the teaching of the following grammatical points together with the illustration f-rom lessons in Pronunciation Power:
article:                            the
demonstratives:              this/ that/ these/ those
introducer:                      there is/ are/ was/ were
comparatives:                 than
noun clauses:                  that
adjective clauses:           that
functional language:       I think … or I don’t think … (Lane, 2010)
In regards to the four sibilant sounds, /ʃ, ʒ, dʒ, tʃ/, pronunciation techniques can be added to grammar lessons on endings (Simple Present –s Endings, Plurals, Possessives), count-mass (how much, how many), and questions and adjective clauses with WHICH (Lane, 2010).
It is proposed that teachers study the following example carefully to adopt in successful classroom work and drill (Lane, 2010).
Activity: Sibilant: How much oil?
Objectives:         integrate pronunciation work with work on functional language or grammar and encourage students to pronounce final consonants to improve comprehensibility and grammatical accuracy.
-   On the board, write minimal pairs contrasting /ʃ/ and /tʃ/. Underline the target sounds. Model the words and make students repeat. (watch-wash; catch-cash; much-mush; which-wish)
-   Explain pronunciation: the last sound in the first word of each pair begins with a /t/ sound. In watch and catch the /t/ is written. In much and which, it is not written, but it must be pronounced. Students will not hear the /t/ as a separate sound. Showcase all of the above mentioned steps by se-lecting the appropriate lessons in Pronunciation Power and let students learn with the pre-recorded presentation of native speakers in the program.
-   On the board, write questions about the price of oil, using How much.
How much is a gallon (4 liters) of gasoline now in your country?
How much was a gallon of gas two years ago in your country?
-   Model the questions. Students repeat. Provide feedback on the pronunciation of much.
-   Choose one or two students to ask classmates the questions on the board. Provide feedback on pronunciation.
-   When the pair work is finished, review the information with the class. Provide feedback on pronunciation.
Finally, when dealing with final consonants, final consonant clusters, and final voiced consonants, teachers can adopt the following activity for their classroom pronunciation work (Lane, 2010).
Activity: Recognition and production of final consonants, final consonant clusters, and final voiced consonants
Objective: Encourage students to pronounce final consonants to improve comprehensibility and grammatical accuracy.
Part 1        
  A B A B
  1. BELL
  1. SHORE
  1. FAX
  1. DOG
  1. PICK
  1. WATCH
  1. THANK
  1. PLAN
Part 2
  1. PIG
  1. RISE
  1. PEAS
  1. BAG
  1. (TO) USE
  1. HAVE
  1. SAID
-   Students listen to the pairs in Part 1 and repeat them.
-   Students listen to the pairs in Part 2 and repeat them. Explain that the first words in Part 2 end in voiced sounds (the vocal cords vibrate), and the vowels are longer. The last words in Part 2 end in voiceless sounds (the vocal cords do not vibrate), and the vowels are shorter.
-   Students listen to one word f-rom each of the pairs in Part 2 again and circle the word they hear.
-   In pairs, students practice the words in Part 2. Then each student reads a word f-rom each pair and the partner identifies the word.
-   After the pair work, ask each student to se-lect a pair and say one of the words. The class will decide which word was said.
-   Ask each student to choose a pair of words f-rom the handout and write a sentence containing both words. Students read their sentences to a partner.
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Người đăng:Bui Le Minh, Hanoi University