Mother tongue influence,
Lack of opportunity to speak in the language,
Though you are absolutely right, don’t you think we have been talking for too long about these, the so called “problems”? My view about the issue is completely contrary. We already know what the problems are! What we actually need now is a solution! Not any solution but THE SOLUTION that works,.which is learning the “English Sound System”..If you are serious to work on your pronunciation, the study of English Sound System is your best bet!
I am sure you will agree with me that “correct” .pronunciation is important when we speak. But how can we know just, which is correct pronunciation? (Let us not forget that English can be spoken in a variety of accents.) A .foreign learner, to whom English is perhaps only a second language, wants .to learn a type of pronunciation which has been widely accepted wherever English is spoken. Is there such a type that is understood not only by fellow countrymen, but also rest of the world…?
The answer is, “Yes there is!” The accent of Standard British English which best fulfils this requirement is known as “Received Pronunciation” or .“RP” in short. It shows no regional variation. .It is worth .learning this accent as almost all the dictionaries use it as the standard pronunciation for their headwords.
“Now I know which accent could work for me. What’s next?”, I could hear you asking this question! Well, like many other languages, .English is a method of human communication that consists of WORDS. So, it goes without saying, the basic units that make up words should be the area of focus!
1) We need to know about the individual sounds that make up the word.
2) We need to know about stress on that particular word or syllable.
Let 's look at “WORDS” in general first! (I’ll talk about the stress some other time if I get .the chance.) As we all know, English Language can be divided into two forms: .Written English and Spoken English. In both cases we use WORDS to relate our thoughts. But do you know the difference between the words in Writing and Speech? .If you want to know what MY ANSWER is, I’m afraid we have to get back to basics!
Written words are made up of letters. There are 26 letters in English. This set of letters is known as the “English Alphabet”.
If you want a word to be written correctly, you must know the. individual letters that make up that particular word. For example, the letters *h - i - r - s - t (arranged in alphabetical order) are used to form the word “shirt”. Can we use the same letters but in a different order, “tirsh” or “risht”, as we like and still call it shirt? Of course, we can’t! Instead, we must follow the rules; each word should be written using the right letters, in a specific order!
Now, who tells us what the right letters are and which is that specific order? The “spelling” does! Thus, if you know your spelling, you will not go wrong with your written words.
Unlike written words, spoken words are made up of small units of sounds. There are 44 sounds in British English speech. This group of sounds (also known as phonemes) is called the “phonetic sounds”. I am sure you would have heard about it!
If you want a word to be pronounced correctly, you must know the individual sounds that make up the word. For example, when the word “shirt” is pronounced, we will not hear the names of the *letters at all but a combination of sounds, instead: /ʃɜ:t/ -- / ʃ, ɜ:, t/ -- /ʃɜ:t/. If you are curious to know what these symbols are, they represent the speech sounds that make up the spoken word “shirt”! Such symbols are called the “phonetic symbols”.
Now, who tells us what are the speech sounds that make up each word? The “dictionary” does! Thus, if you know how to read the phonetic spelling, you will not go wrong with your spoken words.
I encourage every non-native speaker of English, who has been struggling desperately, to learn the speech sounds and their corresponding symbols to arrest his/her pronunciation issue once and for all.
Written Words vs Spoken Words
To recapitulate briefly, the predominant difference between written words and spoken words is what they are made up of: written words are made up of letters, whereas spoken words are made up of small units of sounds or phonemes.
written word spoken word
5 letters 3 phonemes
Once your mind is clear about this, make an effort to learn the phonemes and you will be pleasantly surprised to see how things start to fall in place. Good luck!
Originally posted on 12 September, 2011 as a blog. Now I'm sharing it here!