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English Excellence In The New Millennium

The 4S Approach To Literacy and Language Accelerated English Program

The Superior Speaking Guide

Outreach Publications Pty Ltd International Language Academy Pty. Ltd. (ILA) Australian International Language Academy (AILA)
(Copyright KWW 2010)

Developing Superior Speaking Skills Common Spoken English Problems The Ps of the Professional Public Speaker Common Pronunciation Problems And Errors Assessing Pronunciation Competency Difficulties In Speaking English Twelve Common Pronunciation Problem Possibilities The 4S Keys To Understanding Pronunciation Teach Speaking To ESL EAL Learners Developing Pronunciation Accuracy Confusing The Final Consonants Correctly Pronouncing And Stressing Words The Spreading Schwa Problem ESL and EAL Speaking Issues Helpful Hints For Pronunciation 1 1 1 2 3 4 12 14 19 21 22 23 24 26 26

Developing Superior Speaking Skills

It is an old adage that attitude is just as important as aptitude when it come to the altitude one aspires to reach in English proficiency. To be a superior speaker and writer of English, one needs to adopt an introspective attitude of self-correction and self-development. Language experience by language experience - day by day there must be a willingness to focus on repairing, replacing, reinforcing and refining ones personal speaking, pronunciation and writing and spelling knowledge and skills. While the six English macro skills reading, listening, viewing, speaking, writing and interpreting require separate and individual attention in a language-learning environment, each is interrelated with the others and are in group-dependency if a high level of English proficiency is the goal. Likewise, correct pronunciation is often the prerequisite to accurate spelling and in turn, incorrect pronunciation can result in words being misspelt. The quality of ones speech is founded on correct pronunciation just as the standard of ones writing primarily is dependent on the ability to spell with accuracy. Before solutions can be applied, the prevailing problems must be recognised. The 4S Approach To Literacy And Language adopts a ProblemSolution strategy to raise pronunciation and speaking competency. This booklet highlights the ten most common pronunciation problem areas. While some pronunciation problems are systemic, many are simply the result of a lack of self-discipline. Given a personal, selfcorrecting attitude and a willingness to practice speaking purely and precisely, the common errors can be quickly and readily eliminated if one is prepared to adopt the solutions that are offered and is prepared to practice and pretend.

Common Spoken English Problems:

Lack of Confidence and Competence Lack of English Language Skills Lack of Pronunciation and Grammar Skills Lack of Knowledge and Experience

The Ps of the Professional Public Speaker:

Purpose Priorities Precision Performance Perseverence Persona Preparation Pronunciation Presence Personality Professionalism Practice Planning Punctuality Potential Persistence Prevention Pretend

Common Pronunciation Problems And Errors

Problem One: Omitting the endings of words
Many people have the habit of dropping the g off the end of ing words. Others wrongly replace the final g with a k.. sound. Some, especially those for whom English is an additional language, omit consonant sounds from the ends of words, in particular d.., p.. and t... swimming swimminrunning runningoing gointalking talkindoing doinsomething somethink nothing nothink anything anythink everything everythink mound moun found foun grasp gras lump lum last las past pas .

Problem Two: Adding and omitting vowels and syllables

In everyday speech, ary, ery and ory word endings are often shortened by omitting the vowel. Crushing these final symbol combinations results in pronunciation and spelling errors. Syllables also are wrongly added creating an extra er.. sound, particularly in ry-ending words. dictionary dictionry jewellery jewelry mystery mystry ordinary ordinry robbery robbry military militry directory directry history histry library libry foundry foundery umbrella umberella industry industery ministry ministery

Problem Three; Wrongly adding the vowels u and i

Another common mistake is to add the vowels u and i forming an extra syllable. A syllable or blend also may be lost because sounds are crushed together. Errors occur too because of lazy pronunciation habits omitting middle and frontal sounds. grievous grevious mischievous mischevious kiln kilun film filum another anuver mother muver picture pitcha government guvment American Merican Australian Stralian brother bruver bureaucracy brocracy

Problem Four: Adding or omitting a d.. sound in a word

Adding a d.. sound or in turn, failing to pronounce the symbol d in a word is another common error. pigeon pidgon magic madgic tragic tradgic message messedge logic lodgic judge juge hedge hege edge ege ledge lege wedge wege pledge plege

Problem Five: Confusing the final sound of ed, t and te

Care is required with words ending in t (or te) and ed, particularly when they have a similar sound. Discipline is needed to always give due stress to the d and t respectively if spelling errors are to be eliminated. An effective Key To Understanding is: If you did it, it ends in d, e.g. missed, chased. passed guessed past guest bussed packed bust pact leased wrapped least rapt paced based paste baste

Problem Six: Confusing ance and ence with ents and ants
Words ending in ence and ance regularly are confused with words ending in ents and ants. patience patients presence presents incidence incidents residence residents attendance attendants assistance assistants

Problem Seven: Confusing ve.., th.. and f.. sounds

Words ending in ve and th cause problems because of the tendency to make an f.. sound. Words ending in f are often wrongly spelt with a v or ve. above abuf love luf both bof path parf glove gluf carve carf shelf shelve elf elv

Problem Eight: Confusing le and al, el and ol -ending words

Words are mispronounced and misspelt because the final syllable is not sounded clearly, especially those ending in -le and in al, el and ol. peddle pedal muscle mussel idle idol meddle medal gamble gambol

Problem Nine: Confusing al, el, il, ol and ul words

Pronunciation errors occur because al, el, il and ul combinations at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of words, are not pronounced purely. alephant elephant hospitol hospital pedul pedal Elsatian Alsatian pencel pencil

Problem Ten: Confusing ar, er, or and en and on -ending words

When the final syllable is er, ar, or en and on, pronunciation and spelling errors occur. miner minor seller cellar altar alter barren baron lessen lesson batten baton

Assessing Pronunciation Competency:

To develop personal proficiency and self-confidence when communicating in English, requires a willingness to be introspective, self-correct, accept criticism and to want to be different. The road to communication competency can begin by: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii) (ix)

Accurately stressing and emphasising particular syllables, e.g. contribute >- contribute.
Accurately breaking words into their correct syllabic structure, e.g. es/tim/a/tion > es/ti/ma/tion Accurately pronouncing the different vowels and symbol combinations, e.g. car war canary Eliminating Schwa sounds, e.g. doctor > docta - neighbour > neighba --- ap/proach > a/proach Correctly pronouncing the consonants on the end of words, mound > moun-_ -- half > harp Recognising Silent Symbols in words, island subtle Wednesday often Wrongly adding or omitting vowels or combinations, e.g. ministry > ministery - history > histry Confusing the final sounds of ed, d and t. past passed -- dropped > dropt Eliminating Common Speech habits, um er ah - you know actually Speaking with fluency and competency.


Difficulties In Speaking English

Problems can arise when speaking English mainly because of two characteristics of the language. Firstly, many of the alphabetical symbols and core symbol combinations can make more than one sound and it is not always easy to know which sound is being made in a particular word, e.g. g in goat and giraffe ar in dwarf and parachute ur in bury, jury and injury ear in pear, dear, earn and heart. oo in moon, book, door, flood and brooch our in four, hour, tourist and courage. This characteristic of symbols and combinations causes problems particularly in reading and pronunciation. Secondly, difficulties occur in spelling and writing because some different symbols and core symbol combinations can make the same sound and it can be difficult to work out which one to use, e.g. city and site fern, firm and furnace here, weir, year and fierce e.g. for, bore, door, hawk, pour, dinosaur, daughter, water, baulk. It is this second characteristic that is found in Homophonic words and which is why Homophones are one of the four spelling-problem areas, e.g. right, rite, wright, write. As we will learn in more detail later, the other four pronunciation and spelling-problem areas relate to: (i) Foreign words that have been borrowed by English, e.g. colonel, caf, chalet (ii) Words that have silent symbols, e.g. island, autumn, plumber (iii) Pluralised words, e.g. women, chateaux, radii. (iv) When, which and how the syllables in words are stressed or emphasised

The Art of Conversion

While some words just have to be remembered, the key to being a superior speaker and writer of the English language is to master the Art of Conversion. In the case of Spelling and Writing, it requires being able to convert the sounds heard when a word is spoken, to the correct symbols and symbol combinations, e.g. pilot.. = pi.. + l.. + ot... = pi + l + ot = pi + lot = pilot. To be highly skilled at Pronunciation and Reading, the challenge is to be able to convert the written symbols and symbol combinations from which a word is made to their correct sounds, e.g. partner = p+ar+t+n+er= p.. + ar.. + t..+ n.. + er.. = part.. + ner.. = partner... By knowing the correct sounds of the symbols and the symbols combinations, one can work out how to read and pronounce unknown words, e.g. misadventure = mis+ad+ven+ture = mis.. + ad.. + ven.. + ture.. = misadventure.. psoriasis = psor+i+as+is = psor.. + i.. + as.. + is.. = psoriasis.. . Being able to recognise the symbols and the core and extended symbol combinations and being able to convert them to their correct sounds, enables one to work out how to spell words not previously learnt, e.g. contravention.. = con.. + tra.. + ven.. + tion.. = con+tra+ven+tion = contravention. To be able to achieve these literacy objectives, one must have a detailed knowledge of those symbols and symbol combinations that make more than one sound or that make the same sound as another symbol or symbol combination. The 4S Manual is recommended for this purpose. Personal pronunciation of words can vary because of the way vowels are pronounced. It is important also to know that pronunciation variations occur also because of the way a word is broken into its syllables. Compare: con/tri/bute and con/trib/ute in/ven/tory and in/vent/ory ze/bra and zeb/ra. Having mastered the regular, core symbol combinations, the more difficult ones as well as the variations can then be tackled, e.g. m-on-ey, ac-tion, con-scious, aer-i-al, th-or-ough, h-ear-t, j-our-n-al, chat-eau, Th-ai-lan-d, etc. The challenge to be able to do this is made a little bit more difficult because many of the single symbols, that is, the consonants and vowels and the symbol combinations they make, can produce a number of different sounds.

While the Consonant Digraph ch usually says ch.. as in cheese, it also can make an sh.. sound in chef, a k.. sound in ache and a qu.. sound in choir. Similarly, many of the symbols and combinations can also make different sounds.





Another good example is the symbol combination ar which can make five different sounds, e.g. ar.. in harp; - or.. in dwarf; - air.. in parents. In the word caravan, the a in the ar combination makes its regular vowel sound as one hears in hat while in ar-ending words like dollar, instead of being a regular ar sound like in car it can be pronounced as the short neutral sound one hears in panda, i.e. it is what is called the schwa -uh sound shown by the phonetic symbol .






The vast majority of words are built, not from separate-sounding letters or symbols but from recognizable symbol combinations that can produce both regular and varied sound signals e.g. form, worm - enough, cough - dead, plead - chant, prank, many - fear, bear, learn, heart, etc. A basic knowledge of the individual letters or symbols of the Alphabet is not enough to be able to pronounce and spell most words correctly. Instead, to be able to read and pronounce words well, one must be able to visually recognise and interpret the individual symbols and combinations in written words as well as know the correct sounds that the symbols and symbol combinations send when spoken, e.g. fur to f+ur to f.. + er.. many to m+an+y to m.. + en.. + y.. to meny.. front to fr+on+t to fr.. + un.. + t.. to frunt... To be able to spell and write well, one has to be able to aurally distinguish the distinct sound signals a word sends when it is spoken - and to convert individual sounds and sound combinations to their correct symbols and symbol combinations, e.g. garden.. to g.. + ar.. + d... + en.. to g + ar + d + en to gar + den to garden -convert.. to c.. + on.. + v.. + er.. + t.. to c + on + v + er + t to con + vert to convert. To this end, it is the aim of 4S to provide learners of all age and skill levels with an in-depth, allencompassing, practical understanding of the many different symbols and symbol combinations and sounds and sound combinations that are to be found in the English language based on their personal need to know. To achieve this learning objective, the 4S program begins with the basics, gradually progressing on a needto-know basis, from the simple to the complex and the known to the unknown. Having been building a solid foundation of knowledge about the special Characteristics, Relationships and Structural Attributes of the English language, it is now time to advance to the more difficult areas. One of the most challenging aspects is the fact that many symbols and symbol combinations can make more than one sound while other different combinations can make the same sound. This is particularly true of the r combinations. The r Symbol Combinations also can cause spelling and pronunciation problems because of the way r can influence other symbols in a word and usually change the sound of vowels that come before it. As already learnt, the consonant r is one of the Five Influential Consonants in English. The 4S Key To Understanding teaches: r usually changes the sounds of the vowels that come before it.

Many r combinations can make more than one sound: ar, er, or, ir, ur, our, are, ere, ure, ear, our - arr, orr. The Combination ar can make five different sounds.

star scary caravan dwarfs dollar As demonstrated below, the regular, two-symbol r combinations all make a number of different sounds. How some of the words below are pronounced, e.g. the Schwa-uh words, will often depend on individual, personal pronunciation, e.g. injury may be pronounced as injary, injery or injry and scholar as scholar, scholer or schol. The our and ear variations also need to be known.

r Combination
ar ar ar ar ar er er er er er (ar) (or) (air) ( ar er) (at) (er) (ar) (air) (eer) (-uh er)

Clue Word
car war canary beggar parallel her sergeant peril serial butter ir ir or or or ur ur ur ur ur ur (er) (eer) (or) ( or er) (er) (er) (air) (oo) () (or) (-uh er) bird spirit for doctor worm surf bury jury curious insurance murmur

our Variations
our our our our our our (cow) hour (for) four (moon) tour (uh) colour (her) courtesy (cup) courage flour sour course fourteen tourist tourism flavour neighbour journal journalist flourish ear ear ear bear dear learn heart

ear Variations
wear tear pear ear near year earn search earth ear hearty heartache

Just as the same r combinations listed above can make different sounds in words, problems are also caused in pronunciation and spelling because different r combinations can make the same sound. Depending on personal pronunciation, there are almost twenty different symbol combinations that can make an or.. sound as in corn. Many such or.. sounds are made by r combinations. In the USA, aw words such as hawk are not normally included in the or.. - sounding group.

corn boar snore

four door dinosaur war

The sounds of er.. (perch), ar.. (card), eer.. (steer), and air.. (hair) can also be made by many different symbol combinations as shown by the words listed below.

er.. Combinations
er ir ur or ure ear our eur uer ere camera bird turkey worm injure learn journey pasteurize guerilla were her perch skirt shirt hurt church worth world pressure failure earn search courtesy journal entrepreneur air are ar er err aer ear eir ur ere

air.. Combinations
pair square canary very berry aerial bear their bury there air hair mare care vary wary merit peril ferry merry aeroplane pear wear heir heiress buried compere

eer.. Combinations
eer ear ir ier er irr ere eir yr deer year spirit fierce serial mirror here weir syrup steer career appear near mirage miracle tier pierce serious cereal stirrup sphere weird or ore oar oor our au aw aur ough augh ure ur awe oer a al ar aul

doctor* shore board door four haul hawk dinosaur ought daughter sure insurance awe boer water walk war baulk sort fortune core score oar coarse floor poor pour court pause sauce straw crawl thesaurus thought bought taught naughty insure ensure assurance awesome awed oer almighty talk chalk warn warm

ar.. Combinations
ar ear er car heart sergeant arm card hearty heartache serjeant-at-arms

While the r Key To Understanding is very helpful, especially for pronunciation purposes, the best and quickest way to learn the sound variations that are found in so many r words in English, is to use Sound Families and Word Families as memory tools. To this end, there can be four Word Families which group together the ear words that you need to know, e.g. bear - wear, tear, pears dear - year, fear, gear, hear, beard, clearer - learn - earn, earth, heard, search, pearl, early - heart - hearty, heartily, hearth. Although it is a little more difficult to do, words that make the same r sound also can be grouped into a Word Family: pair - share - very - berry - their - bury - aeroplane - merit.

The Double r Variation

The Double r combinations, arr, orr also make more than one sound as shown in the box below. However, while the single Consonant r is one of the five Influential Consonants in the English language and usually changes the regular sound made by any vowel that comes before it, it will be seen in the words listed below that this does not always occur in Double r words even though it does some of the time.

The vowel - rr Combinations arr arr arr err irr orr orr orr urr
carrot arrest warren merry mirror horror correct worry hurry carry tarry marry arrow arrange arrive array arrears warrior warrant warranty warrigal cherry herrings ferry error errand stirrup squirrel irremovable sorrow lorry borrow torrent corrupt corruption incorruptible worried worrisome curry currency furrow currency

Two-Vowel Combinations
In English, there are numerous symbol combinations that are made by combining two vowels together, e.g. ui - juice; ui - build ua - guard; ua - guarantee ie - pie; ie - thief ai - train; ai - said ue - fuel; ue guest ea - speak; ea - steak eo - people; eo - leopard ei - eight; ei - height oe - toe; oe - shoe etc. A detailed list of the two-vowel symbol combinations is to be found on Page 76 of the 4S Manual. Two very common symbol combinations that are made from two vowels are ou and au. Both these combinations can cause special pronunciation and spelling problems because of the number of different sounds they can make in words.

Variations Of ou
ou ou ou ou ou ou ou ou ou (cow) (moon) (cup) (or) (no) (her) (ado) (book) (hot) mouse group couple nought shoulder journey colour could cough out mouth loud proud house shout mountain council soup coupon tour tourist through you youth coup cousin double touch country trouble young enough fought sought thought court course bought brought mould though bouquet dough boulder doughnut courteous courtesy bourbon journal journal journalist harbour flavour labour favour jealous N.B. See below. would should trough

The American approach is to spell our words as or, e.g. colour = color; neighbour = neighbor; flavour = flavor, etc. Many dictionaries now offer American spelling as an option because of the influence of American-produced computer software programs.

Variations Of au- eau eu

au (for) au (car) au (hot) au (day) eau (you) eau (go) eu (you) daughter aunt Australia gauge beauty plateau feud caught taught sauce haul author laundry automatic laugh draught laughter sausage vault fault austere austerity Austria beautiful chateau sleuth

ough Variations

ough ough ough ough ough ough

(moon) (huff) (uh) (cow) (hot) (no)

through tough thorough plough cough dough bough rough enough slough

Addressing Personal Pronunciation Problems ought (for) bought fought brought thought
One of the most challenging task confronting a learner of the English language, especially someone for whom English is an additional language (EAL), is to be able to pronounce words and sentences correctly and with confidence. People do not like to use a word in a conversation if they are not sure how it is correctly pronounced. Therefore, they often tend to limit their speaking vocabulary or language bank to those words they feel confident to use, especially when not among family or close friends. Sometimes, ESL speakers talk more quickly when they are using words they are unsure of to cover up the possible incorrect pronunciation. 4S contends that excellent Pronunciation skills can be readily acquired particularly when a learner understands the Dos and the Donts of Pronunciation and is willing to practice speaking in a variety of language-related situations. Having mastered the Art of Symbol and Sound Conversion, i.e. being able to convert sounds to symbols and symbols to sounds accurately, one needs to appreciate that there are two keys to accurate pronunciation in English, - the Double Ss, Syllables and Stress.

The Importance Of Syllables In Pronunciation

English words are pronounced in Syllables, i.e. in Sound Chunks, that have be made from individual symbols, from core symbol combinations and from extended combinations, e.g. form = one syllable; in / form = two syllables; in / form / ant = three syllables; in / form / a / tion = four syllables. While speakers often break words into syllables differently, e.g. ce/ment and cem/ent, recognising a words syllabic structure is the first key to pronouncing that word correctly. When English words are pronounced, verbal stress or emphasis is placed on one or more of the syllables, e.g. pi / lot - in / vest / or - cy / clist. While personal pronunciation styles can vary the way a word is pronounced, there are some general pronunciation rules and 4S Pronunciation Keys that can be of valuable assistance.


(i) To correctly pronounce single-syllable words, one simply needs to know the sounds that are made by the symbols and symbol combinations from which the words have been made, mindful that symbols and combinations can often make different sounds.

st + ar

sh + ip

sn + ail

sk + unk

d + oll

scr + oll

(ii) Two-syllable words are usually pronounced by stressing the first syllable. The 4S Pronunciation Key teaches: The stress or emphasis in two-syllable words is usually on the first syllable. This is also the case for many three-syllable words. See below.













(iii) When the first syllable of a two-syllable word ends in a vowel, it is an open syllable and the vowel is long, i.e. it says its own name. The stress is usually on the first syllable. The 4S Key: The stress is usually on the first syllable in multi-syllable words when the syllable is open and the vowel is long.







(iv) The rule above in (iii) also can apply to many three-syllable words that begin with open syllables as the words shown by the graphics below demonstrate.







(v) While stressing the first syllable in two-syllable words is the most common form of pronunciation, there can be three exceptions: (a) When the word begins with a prefix, the second syllable is sometimes stressed. (b) When the word is used as a verb, the second syllable is usually stressed. (c) When both syllables are equally stressed.








(b) (c)











(vi) In words of more than two syllables, when the stress is not on the first syllable, it is nearly always on the base or root from which the word has been derived. This is very often on the second or middle syllable. If one is unsure as to which syllable to stress, the safest approach always is to stress both, e.g. ham/mer; but/ter; ban/ner, etc.

sub/trac/tion re/port/er de/tec/tive chron/i/cle tem/per/a/ture






As seen in (v) (b) above, the way a word is stressed when pronounced can change depending on the purpose for which it is used. When a word is used as a noun or the name of something, the stress is on the first syllable. When a words function is action, i.e. a verb, the stress is often on the second syllable.

account record survey increase excuse

account record survey increase excuse

permit address reply delay review

permit address reply delay review


Twelve Common Pronunciation Problem Possibilities

A common cause of poor spelling is poor pronunciation. If a word is pronounced wrongly then it is often misspelt. There are twelve (12) main Pronunciation Problem Possibilities: (i) Dropping the g off ing... words and instead making just an in... sound:






(ii) Changing -ing on the end of words to -ink, e.g. something to somethink (iii) Replacing r Combinations and Vowels with a Schwa - short uh sound:




envlope-envelope octpus-octopus

(iv) Wrongly adding an extra sound or syllable to a word:





(v) Wrongly omitting a vowel sound or syllable from a word:






(vi) Replacing vowels with an er... sound





(vii) Replacing vowels with different vowels and combinations:

alaphant- elephant





(viii) Vowels and Symbols are wrongly omitted from or added to words:


Merican-American sovreign-sovereign



(ix) Consonants are wrongly omitting, changed or added in words:



larf- laugh

harp-half past

pidgeon- pigeon

(x) The final combination ed is regularly replaced by the Consonant t and vice versa:

missed - mist

chased - chaste

bussed - bust

wrapped - rapt

tuft - toughed

(xi) The final d is wrongly omitted from the end of words:

islan - island

chil - child

blon - blond

hans - hands

bons - bonds ban - band

(xii) The final major pronunciation problem area is Homophones, i.e. those words that sound the same but are made from different symbols and are therefore spelt differently but pronounced the same, e.g. to, too, two - their, there, theyre - council, counsel -weather, whether, wether. The best way to master Homophones is to use the words in context, i.e., in sentences. This approach helps one to remember how the words are spelt and very importantly, teaches what the words mean.

idol - idle

gauge - gage

petrol - petrel

flower - flour

muscle - mussel

presents - presence

pistol - pistil

carrot - carat

naval - navel

baton batton


The 4S Keys To Understanding Pronunciation

There are a twenty-two basic 4S Keys To Understanding that can assist learners to know why words are pronounced the way they are, i.e. why they say what they say. Learners can confidently rely on these pronunciation "clues even though there are some exceptions to the "rules" they teach. Combating illiteracy can be likened to being in a military battle. In such circumstances, it is better to have a weapon with which to fight than no weapon at all, even if that weapon fires a few blanks at times. When students understand why particular clue words are pronounced the way they are that knowledge can be transferred and used to explain why many like words say what they say. The 4S Keys To Understanding play a vital role in this Skills Transfer process. (i) When a word has two vowels together, the first vowel usually is long', i.e. it says its own name when the word is pronounced. The second vowel is silent, e.g. fla, gat. The 4S Key teaches: When two vowels go out walking, the first one usually does the talking. This is also called The Two Vowel Rule.







In some words, the first vowel makes a short regular sound but the second vowel is still silent, e.g. had, brath, lather, lopard. There are also some special variations where the second vowel is long and the first vowel is silent, e.g., Casar, archaologist, hyana, stek. The second vowel can also be short, e.g. aroplane, arial. Most are foreign words. (ii) In English, the vowel "e" on the end of words is usually silent. The preceding vowel is usually "long" and says its own name, e.g. plne, hme. The 4S Key teaches: The final, silent "e" usually lets the other vowel do the talking. Again, the few exceptions are usually foreign words, e.g. apostroph, catastroph, epitom, hyperbol, recip.







(iii) Except when followed by r, ee says ee... as in h. The 4S Key teaches: Double ee usually says ee.... The Two Vowel Rule applies, i.e. The first "e" does the talking. However, when ee is followed by r, the long e sound changes to a short i sound as in bt, e.g. deer, cheer, beer, career,

bee jeep sweep needle deer cheer (iv) One can work out where the syllables are in many words by knowing where the Consonant Blends are. The 4S Key teaches: Blends usually begin words and syllables.

com / plain

in / troduce

lob / ster

dol / phin

pan / ther

um / brella


(v) Words with two of the same consonants together usually split and show where the syllables end and begin, as well as how to pronounce and spell words. The 4S Key teaches: Double consonants usually split. An exception can be Double l when the pronunciation often depends on the way an individual speaks, e.g. stroll / er or strol / ler; mill / ion or mil/ lion; stall / ion or stal /lion; wholl / y or whol / ly. This is one of the reasons why 4S teaches: l can rebel.

span / ner

bar / row

stub / born

glas / ses

swag / gie

shut / tle

(vi) The consonant w is one of five influential consonants. w can be wild in words. It can silence some consonants or it can remain silent itself, e.g. where, who. It can also change the sounds of vowels, e.g. warn, worth, women. The 4S Key teaches: w sends a warning to be wary as the sounds and the symbols may vary.







(vii) The consonant r is also one of five influential consonants. r can affect the sound of preceding vowels. The 4S Key teaches: r usually changes the sounds of vowels that come before it.







(viii) Another one of five influential consonants is l. The consonant l often breaks the regular pronunciation rules. Depending on personal pronunciation, not all double l's split, e.g. bill/ion or bil/lion. When l helps to close a syllable with another consonant, or is doubled, the preceding vowel can be long instead of short, e.g. child, wild - wholly, stroller. The 4S Key teaches: I can rebel.

troll/ey- trol/ley






(ix) When words and syllables end in a consonant, they are said to be closed and the preceding vowel usually makes its regular short sound. The 4S Key teaches: Closed syllables end in a consonant and the vowel is usually short.



ps / tl

Jp / n

ht / dg

cb / n / t


(x) When syllables in words end in a vowel, it is usually long, i.e. it says its own name. The 4S Key teaches: Open syllables usually end in long vowel. The exceptions to this rule are -le words and most eending words. Compare apostrophe and snake and circle.

b / cycle

b / gler

j / d

sp / der

d / sign

/ tility

(xi) A number of odd-looking Blends and Digraphs have come into English from other languages. The 4S Key teaches: In odd-looking, consonant blends, only one consonant is sounded.







(xii) The vowels a, o and u often can be linked because of their similar characteristics just as the vowels e and i and the semi-vowel, y can be. This link is easily seen in relation to the sounds made by the consonant c. When "c" is followed immediately by the vowels "a", "o" or "u", it usually makes its hard "k..." sound, e.g. cat, cot, curtain. When c is followed by e, i and y, it makes its softer, s... sound as in six. The 4S Key teaches: Can you count the cups? -ca-, co-, cu- say k....

camel cot cubs centre circle cyclists (xiii) Like the consonant c, the consonant g usually makes its hard sound when followed by the vowels a, o, u and a soft sound when followed by i and e and the semi- vowel, y. The 4S Keys teach: Gail's goats are in the gully - ga-, go-, gu- say g..... or Gary's got a gun - ga-, go-, gu- say g.... N.B. gir words are exceptions, e.g. girl, girth, gird.

gazelle goat gun gentle giant gymnast (xiv) The influence of the consonant w is also seen in the Consonant Digraph wr. The 4S Key teaches: wr always says r....







(xv) The influence of the consonant w is again seen in the Consonant Digraph wh. When wh is followed by an o, only the h is sounded. The 4S Key teaches: In who words, w is always silent. e.g. who, whom, whose, whole, wholly, wholesome, etc.


It will be noted that when wh is followed by the other vowels, a, i, e and the semi-vowel y, the w is usually sounded, e.g. whale, whisper, when, why. wh can be pronounced in different ways by different speakers. Some only pronounce the w.. - where Some say wh.. - whip, while others say hw.., for example why as hwip.. (xvi) While the single Consonant r is one of the five Influential Consonants and usually changes the sound of a vowel that comes before it, rr words are different. The 4S Key teaches: Vowels that precede "double r's" in words are usually regular. e.g. carrot, error, stirrup, sorry, curry. There are some exceptions, particular words that begin with "w", e.g. warrior, warren.







(xvii) When the Double Consonants in a word split, the first consonant closes off the first syllable making the vowel in that syllable a short, regular sound, e.g. banner = bn / ner. The 4S Key teaches: Double Consonants usually follow short vowels. Exceptions are the ll words, rller, whlly and strller.







(xviii) Except for ll, Double Consonants rarely follow long vowels. The 4S Key teaches: Long vowels are usually followed by single consonants. l words exceptions: child, wild, stoller, wholly and Christ.







(xix) Just as there is a 4S Pronunciation Key for odd-looking blends and digraphs, there is also one specifically for those odd-looking symbol combinations that begin with p such as pneumonia, psychiatrist, psychologist, ptomaine, psalm, psychic. This 4S Key teaches: When p begins an odd-looking blend, it is always silent.





(xx) While the Consonant k makes a k.. sound as in key, the k...sound in English is made more often by the consonant c than by either of the consonants k and q or the Consonant Digraph ch. The 4S Key teaches: A k... sound within a word is usually made by the consonant c. It is a valuable spelling rule to also know that most multi-syllabic words that end in a k.. sound usually end in c - sometimes in ck but not just in k. e.g. magic. tragic, logic, allergic, strategic, energetic, athletic - attack.








(xxi) A group of Consonant-Vowel Digraphs called the ti family can cause both pronunciation and spelling problems. The 4S Key teaches: When ti, si, ci and xi are followed by a vowel, they usually say sh.... e.g. lotion, cautious, pension, Ephesians, precious, anxious. The combinations ce, sci and su can be added to this sh... family, e.g. ocean, conscience, sure.








(xxii) There are two important characteristics about symbols and symbol combinations that one must understand to be accurate and confident when pronouncing English words. (a) The 4S Key: Many symbols and symbol combinations can make more than one sound.

giraffe gorilla ears bear heart searching (b) The 4S Key: Different symbols and symbol combinations can make the same sound.

fox cliff trophy draughthorse pliers turkey first

Testing What Has Been Taught:

(i) Underline the words that are "stressed" incorrectly? volume equal qualify loan action marketing provide ticket vinegar Mavis option David revolver election pickle flavour cancel lawyer doctor rapid regular cereal comma deposit piston station native crooning biscuits national basin express bargain butter ulcer angle legal valid anchor insisted wisdom answer atlas policy delta vessel permitting expert kingdom axis freedom prairie circle relation winner weather

(ii) Which words are stressed as Verbs? protest demand review repeat depict control increase approach survey umpire release decrease convict divide defeat account index contract command record


Teach Speaking To ESL EAL Learners

Q. 1 What Kind Of Speaking Should Students Do?
With the emphasis on Activate, students should be able to use any or all of the English language known to them in the performance of a wide variety of oral a t sks.

Q. 2 Why Encourage Students To Do Speaking Tasks?

Speaking tasks provoke students to make use of all their English language knowledge if those tasks meet the requirements of Rehearsal - Feedback - Engagement.

Q. 3 What should the characteristics of a speaking activity be?

It should be an Engage exercise, e.g. a Role Play or Situational or Simulated activity It should be a Study exercise, e.g. to study why words are stressed the way they are It should be an Activate exercise, e.g. a practical, real-life, conversational activity It should involve everyone, e.g. using a buddy system everyone can participate. It should practise specific language structures, e.g. from the simple to the complex Students should concentrate on the accuracy of what they are saying, e.g. this is optional.

Q. 4

Which activity is the odd one out?

Why? - If it involves completing a form in writing (Could be okay if oral?). Why? - If it involves Study - e.g. Practising pronouncing and writing words that belong to the same phonological group. Why?- About the construction of language therefore is more related to Study. Why? A consequence of language rather than an activity.

a. Questionnaire Drill b. Grammar Exercise c. Enjoyment

The odd ones conflict with the Activate purpose and advantages, i.e. rehearsal, feedback and engagement.

Q. 5

What are the attributes or elements of Speaking Activities?

Speaking activities are to centre of three aspects or elements Rehearsal, Feedback and Engagement. 1. They can involve the Information gap e.g. (a) Describe and Draw activity - One student, having seen a picture, tells another student about it, who in turn has to draw what it is about without having seen it - (b)The Mystery Story - Groups are each given a picture from which a story is eventually worked out. (c) Complete the Ending - A story is started by one student and other students make up an ending. 2. The Survey is another speaking activity that provokes conversation, opinion exchange, group participation and which activates the students language knowledge. 3. Discussion also encourages the exchange of opinions provoking spontaneous language use. Given some facilitation, subjects of interest and adopting the idea of a buddy system or teams a vigorous exchange or sharing of information can occur. 4. The use of the role-play particularly for upper intermediate or advanced students who are more language proficient and confident can meet the activate-lesson expectations. Role-playing can be a prerequisite to relevant writing tasks and bring an enjoyable sense of entertainment to the learning process.


Q. 6

How Should Teachers Correct Speaking?

When teachers hear a mistake during a speaking activity they should note it down and correct it later being mindful not to unnecessarily disrupt the conversational flow. Constant interruption on the part of the teacher not only embarrasses but can frustrate and even destroy the whole purpose of the speaking activity. However, for the sake of clarity and the success of the activity, it may be that intervention is necessary by the teacher. This could be the case when totally incorrect words are being used that distort the topic of the activity. After a speaking activity, teachers should discuss how well the students performed the activity by seeking feedback from both the students involved in the activity as well as those who were the audience. Mistakes, if raised by the students should be discussed and examined preferably with the students suggesting or determining the correct alternative/s to an error. Again, the participants should be praised for their effort. When teachers discuss mistakes after a speaking activity, they should be careful to give due praise and not create a situation whereby students are left with the belief that if they participate in an activity and make a mistake, they are going to face a lot of embarrassing criticism afterwards. To this end, telling the class that a mistake had been made without specifying who made can be a way to handle individual mistakes.



Q. 7 What else should teachers do during a speaking activity?

Teachers should prompt when sought by the student or when considered necessary to keep the activity flowing. Encouragement should be forthcoming when a participant falters. It is also the teachers task to ensure, by careful and appropriate intervention, that the activity does not become boring or irrelevant.

Q. 8 What is the objective of a Speaking activity?

The purpose of a Speaking activity is four fold (a) to give EFL learners practical speaking experience in a variety of relevant, real-life, personal conversational and public communicative situations. (b) to provide individual learners with the opportunity to introspectively assess themselves against the standards set by others in the group with regard to their pronunciation, vocabulary, intonation, presentation, (c) to develop, in each learner, an increasingly higher level of competence and personal confidence when speaking publicly with the ultimate objective of becoming a superior speaker of English. (d) to enable teachers to assess the progress of individual learners by observing their participation in different simulated and true-to-life, situational and functional language circumstances.


Developing Pronunciation Accuracy

Correct pronunciation is often the prerequisite to spelling a word correctly. Incorrect pronunciation often results in words being mis-spelt. The way a person spells is sometimes determined by the way that person speaks. In everyday speech, the endings of words are sometimes shortened, syllables are wrongly added and omitted as well as crushed together resulting in wrong spelling. When perfecting ones spelling skills, a more pure or precise approach to pronunciation is required.

Omitting The Endings Of Words

Many people have the habit of dropping the g off the end of ing words while others wrongly replace the g with a k sound. Others, especially those for whom English is their second language, sometimes omit other consonants from the ends of words, in particular d, p and t. swimming running going wishing talking mound grasp last swimminrunningoinwishintalkinmoun gras las something nothing anything thing everything found lump past somethink nothink anythink think everythink foun lum pas

Adding And Omitting Vowels And Syllables

Sometimes an extra sound such as er.. is added wrongly, particularly when the word ends in ry. In words ending in ary, ery and ory, the vowel often is omitted incorrectly. foundry industry infantry dictionary ordinary military library foundery industery infantery dictionry ordinry militry libry pantry ministry dentistry jewellery mystery archery robbery pantery ministery dentistery jewelry mystry archry robbry umbrella juggler cockroach oratory directory lavatory history umberella juggerler cockeroach oratry directry lavatry histry

The mistake also is made of incorrectly adding the vowels u and i thus forming an extra syllable. A syllable also may be lost because of the way distinct sound signals are crushed or run together. Errors occur too because of lazy pronunciation habits and middle and frontal sounds are omitted. grievous kiln brother mother government American grevious kilun bruver muver guvment Merican mischievous film another picture bureaucracy Australian mischevious filum anuver pitcha brocracy Stralian

It is also common for some people incorrectly to add a d.. sound to a word or in turn, to fail to pronounce the letter d in a word. pigeon magic tragic message pidgon madgic tradgic messedge judge hedge edge ledge juge hege ege lege


Confusing The Final Consonants

One reason why some people spell words incorrectly is because they fail to pronounce the final symbol or syllable distinctly or correctly. Special care needs to be taken with words that end in t (or te) and ed particularly when the words have a similar sound. Personal discipline is needed to always give due stress to the d and the t respectively if spelling errors are to be eliminated. An effective Key To Understanding to apply is: If you did it, it ends in d, e.g. missed, chased. passed bussed tracked based past bust tract baste missed guessed ducked chased mist guest duct chaste paced tacked packed hissed paste tact pact hist leased wrapped trussed toughed least rapt trust tuft

Words ending in ence and ance also are confused with words ending in ents and ants, e.g. patience innocence dependence patients innocents dependants incidence presence attendance incidents presents attendants residence residents instance instants assistance assistants

Words ending in ve and th can also be pronunciation and spelling casualties because of the tendency to make an f.. sound, while words ending in f are often wrongly spelt with a v or ve. above serve both shelf abuf serf bof shelve love swerve half elf luf swerf harve elv glove with calf gulf gluf wif carve gulv carve path self itself carf parf selv itselv

Confusing the Sound of Syllables

Correct pronunciation can be a prerequisite to spelling well. As explained above, there are words which are regularly mis-spelt because the final syllable is not clearly and distinctly sounded or pronounced. This is common with -le words and where like-sounding words end in el, al and ol. A similar problem can arise when the final syllable is er, ar, or, en and on. idle meddle pistol manner altar barren idol medal pistil manor alter baron mettle gamble petrol miner carrot lessen metal gambol petrel minor carat lesson peddle muscle naval seller rigger batten pedal mussel navel cellar rigor or rigour baton

Just as difficulties arise because some end - l symbol combinations can send the same sound signal, e.g. meddle and medal, problems also occur because al, el and il combinations at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of words, are not pronounced purely.

alephant hospitil elsatian

elephant hospital Alsatian

malon medicil elgebra

melon medical algebra

aligible pedul pencel

eligible pedal pencil

As also demonstrated by the words above, variations occur in the way words are pronounced, even from country to country, because of the way the vowels in words are pronounced. Consider the words clerk and cement which are pronounced as clar..k and cler..k and cee..ment and cem..ent. The main consonant variation is z which is pronounced as z.. or zee as in zeb..ra and zee..bra. N.B. Building Word Families of words that often are pronounced and spelt incorrectly is a helpful tool for retention, e.g. words where er is wrongly added -category, umbrella, cockroach, foundry, etc.


Correctly Pronouncing And Stressing Words

Single-Syllabic Words:
To correctly pronounce a single-syllabic word, one first needs to be able to target the Core or Extended Symbol Combinations from which the word has been made, e.g. ship = sh and ip -- grudge = gr and udge. Secondly, one must know what sound is being made by the Symbols and the Core or Extended Combinations, knowing that some symbols and symbol combinations can make different sounds or can be silent, e.g. romp, comb, tomb, some, home swam, swamp.

Multi-Syllabic Words:
When dealing with a multi-syllabic word, once the Core and Extended Combinations are targeted, the next task is to work out where the syllables begin and finish. Knowing the relevant 4S Pronunciation Keys is helpful, i.e. Blends usually begin words and syllables. - Double consonants usually split. e.g. con/tract/or ap/pro/pri/ate. The challenge then is to know which syllable is stressed. The 4S Pronunciation Key teaches that: Most multi-syllabic words usually stress the first syllable. pan/try work/er guar/an/tee men/tion pris/on cin/e/ma hon/est cof/fee el/e/phant light/ning chim/ney pen/in/sul/ar des/ert bash/ful mes/sen/ger ac/tion dol/phin mus/ic/al

This Key applies especially when the first syllable ends in a long vowel, i.e. it says its own name: cy/clone te/di/ous no/ble Je/sus to/tal cy/cle ti/dal o/dour o/pen cli/mate fi/nal sta/tion na/tion mu/tiny

Stressing The Base Or Root Of The Word:

If the stress is not on the first syllable in a multi-syllabic word, it is nearly always on the base or root from which the word has been built or derived. A 4S Key To Pronunciation teaches: In a multi-syllabic word the stress also can be on the root or base from which it has been built. ex-pend-i-ture de-ben-ture ap-par-ent-ly e-val-u-a-tion dis-trib-u-tion de-fen-sive re-sour-ces e-con-om-y se-cur-i-ty in-fla-tion vo-cab-u-lar-y re-pent-ance e-vac-u-a-tion ex-cav-a-tion in-fat-u-a-ted

Pronouncing Suffixes And Prefixes:

A 4S Pronunciation Key teaches: Suffixes are never stressed, e.g. jumper, sweetest, quickly. In contrast, a Prefix can be stressed when a word is used as the name of something, i.e. a Noun, or as a descriptive, i.e. an Adjective, e.g. Did you keep a record of the height of the flood? - In May we had a record rainfall. When the same prefixed word is used as an action word or Verb, like Suffixes, the Prefix is not stressed but the second syllable is, e.g.Can you record that song for me?. The 4S Key: When a multi-syllabic word is used as a verb, the stress is usually on the second syllable. Noun/Adj ac/count rec/ord ad/dress re/view Verb ac/count re/cord ad/dress re/view Noun/Adj per/mit pro/ject re/ply sur/vey Verb per/mit pro/ject re/ply sur/vey Noun/Adj prod/uce re/turn con/fines separate Verb pro/duce re/turn con/fines se/par/ate

Personal pronunciation can influence how words are sounded. Stressing both or more than one syllable in a word is a safe rule to apply when unsure as to which syllable to stress, e.g. con/fine, sta/tion, cy/clone, e/con/om/y.


The Spreading Schwa Problem

One of the primary objectives of 4S-Accelerated English Program (AEP) Is to focus on personal speaking and pronunciation difficulties and address them. 4S stresses the importance of pronouncing words correctly. The reason is simple. Words that are pronounced incorrectly often are wrongly misunderstood by the listener resulting in miscommunication. More importantly, they are also mis-spelt. It is because of these negatives that attention is given to pronunciation problem areas.

In recent decades, one of those problem areas is the use of what is known as the Schwa sound. Schwa is a short, neutral, uh..-like, vowel sound that is best understood and demonstrated by the final uh.... sound in comma, panda and era and the initial sound in ago and again. This sound is often the result of lack of speech discipline and copying. It is now occurring even among radio and television presenters, as well as well-educated English language practitioners. It is also common in American English where words such as car and polar are said as in a shortened form as c-uh.. and pol-uh.., i.e. ending in Schwa instead of the regular ar sound. Schwa regularly is heard in words that end in vowel - r combinations such as worker, runner, jumper, doctor, director, neighbour, vapour, grammar, seminar. Again, it is commonly used in re - ending words such as fire, hire, acre, conspire, entire, centre and metre and in other words. Likewise, it is now heard when the regular or long vowel sound is shortened and changed in everyday words, e.g. demand, remedy, essential, propose, attend, command, accommodate, estimate, appeal, benefit, courtesy, allow, etc. Schwa is represented by the phonetic symbol . To reiterate the point, words pronounced using a Schwa sound can cause spelling, comprehension and interpretation difficulties especially for those learning English as an additional or second language. Such words are often spelt incorrectly, e.g. approach = aproach; courtesy = courtasy; benefit = benafit; attend= atend; essential = asential; annoy = anoy; allow = alow; account = acount.

This pronunciation practice is now so common that most English language dictionaries are listing the Schwapronunciation alternative for the affected words. As a result, many English teachers believe that the battle against the spread of Schwa has already been lost and that there is no alternative but to acknowledge the sound as an acceptable pronunciation option, despite the negative outcomes particularly in relation to its impact on spelling accuracy. This position is taken because there is an ever increasing range of words in which the Schwa-uh.. sound is being used. However, while appreciating the complexity of the challenge, 4S argues that if one wants to be a superior speaker and speller of English, the problem does need to be addressed, at least in part.


Addressing The Problem

To assist in addressing this problem, 4S recommends that when words are encountered for the first time, especially by those for whom English is not their first language, the new words should be pronounced purely and emphatically. This can be achieved by over-emphasizing and even exaggerating the vowel or symbol combination at risk, e.g. doctor; worker; command; essential, etc. While this approach may sound a little amusing sometimes to learners and listeners, it can result in enhanced speaking and spelling skills. To restate the point, the way an unknown word is pronounced by a speaker often determines how it will spelt by that person, unless taught otherwise. One of the objectives of 4S is to show that correctly spelling words, such as the Schwa-uh.. group, can be made much easier if care is taken to pronounce them purely when they are being learnt. This is the 4S approach to pronunciation even though it is readily acknowledged and appreciated that in everyday, community speech, a different sound is made other than the more precise, learned sound, e.g. butter > buta. This method works well with vowel - r combinations, e.g. run/ner, act/or, fla/vour, in words where a vowel is followed by a double consonant, e.g. ap/peal, ac/cuse, as/sume, and in initial consonant vowel words, e.g. re/form, de/fine, pre/fer, pro/vide. When the pure sounds of the syllables in a word are known, it is easier to convert these sounds correctly into their symbol combinations and thus spell the word accurately. To achieve this goal, time needs to be spent carefully and precisely pronouncing words and listening to the various sound signals as well as practising converting these pure sound signals into their correct symbol combinations and vice versa. It is also of value to make a list of clue words that depict the variations of the schwa words and to build relevant Word Families, e.g. remedy, comedy, tragedy, etc. As many of the Schwa pronounced words belong to the r-combination families, i.e. ar, er. or, our, re, there is value in spending quality time imparting the pure pronunciation of such words, e.g. collar singer mentor Saviour retire. Secondly, as the second major Schwa group all have double consonants, similar special attention is required, e.g. accuse, effective, allotment, essentially, attribute. It is at this point that the Pronunciation Key: Double Consonants Usually Split can be taught or revised to explain why the Schwa sound should not be used, i.e. because the initial symbol combinations are now closed with a consonant thus making the preceding vowel, short or regular. Take a moment to test yourself as to how you pronounce the following list of 50 words that are so often pronounced with the Schwa sound: farmer, doctor, grammar, thorough, demand, effect, colour, fire, attend, metre, furious, abide, remedy, assist, appoint, annul, estimate, command, resist, actor, prefer, propose, worker, journalist, appeal, singer, hire, accrue, acre, comedy, centre, assess, afford, commute, connect, addition, competitor, dollar, assist, release enter, accommodate, neighbour, elector, director, pretend, result, allege, attest, inspire .


ESL and EAL Speaking Issues

Many people for whom English is an additional or second language: * * * * * * * * Pronounce words incorrectly and stress words wrongly. Regularly omit the articles the and a. Often drop the final consonant in words, e.g. lum = lump; ban = band; spen = spent, etc Use the same known phrases and sentences as responses and to express different ideas. Have difficulty in sequencing thoughts in a logical, progressive way. Make mistakes in Tense. Use incorrect and inappropriate Prepositions. Sentence structure is often awkward and pedestrian.

To improve ones pronunciation proficiency, one needs to be across The 4S Keys To Understanding Pronunciation, for example,

(i) Multi-syllabic nouns usually stress the first syllable, e.g. gar/den; den/tist (ii) Double Consonants Usually Split, e.g. but/ter, ham/mer. (iii)Double consonants usually follow short vowels, e.g. ld/der, skp/per.
When a word or syllable ends in a consonant, the previous vowel is usually short or regular. 4S teaches:

(iv) Closed syllables end in consonants and the vowel is usually short, e.g. bn/ner; cf/fee. (v) Consonants Usually Close Vowels Usually Open.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. The main one relates to words and syllables ending in r. The reason is r is one of the Five Influential Consonants in English and the 4S Key teaches:

(vi) r changes the sound of the vowel that comes before it, e.g. Compare cat and car - fox and for.
Knowing these Keys is one of the secret to Superior Pronunciation.

Helpful Hints For Pronunciation

* Watch English Television programs * Listen to and sing English songs * Listen to English radio e.g. news programs * Have conversations with capable English speakers * Regularly record yourself reading short articles * Be determined to learn about the attributes and the pronunciation rules of English.