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TEACHING PRONUNCIATION TO

VIETNAMESE STUDENTS:
WHICH ASPECTS SHOULD WE FOCUS
ON AND WHAT ARE SOME EFFECTIVE
TECHNIQUES?

Andrew Tweed, Oxford University Press


VUS TESOL conference, 14 July, 2012

Lets introduce ourselves.

Overview of talk

English in the 21st Century


Assessing the seriousness of mistakes in
context
Vietnamese learners and pronunciation
General tips on correction
Techniques for teaching pronunciation
Applying the teaching techniques to mistakes
Q&A

English in the 21st century

English in the 21st Century

How many people are there in the world today?


How many of them speak English?

English in the 21st Century

There are over 7 billion people in the world today (USCB).


More than 25% of them speak English fluently or
competently (Crystal 2003, quoted in Jenkins 2007).

English in the 21st Century

This is Braj Kachrus famous model for understanding how


English functions in different countries. (in Crystal, 1995)

English in the 21st Century


How many users in each
circle?

300-500 million in
inner circle (e.g., US)

320-380 million in
outer circle (e.g., India)

500 million 1 billion in


expanding circle (e.g., VN)

(Figures from Crystal, 2003,


quoted in Jenkins, 2007)

English in the 21st Century

English in the 21st Century


On the other hand, consider these scenarios:

A Vietnamese man decides to emigrate to Australia and


would like to speak Australian English so that he can fit in.

Young Vietnamese students at an International High School


want to speak American English because they think the
accent is cool.

A Vietnamese woman who recently graduated from university


joins a British company in HCMC and wants to sound British.

Summary

English is an international language.


People have different reasons for speaking
English, and these affect their attitudes toward
the language.
There are different models of pronunciation.
All of these factors can inform our
pronunciation teaching.

Assessing the seriousness of


mistakes in context

Assessing the significance


of mistakes in context

Mistake? Slip? Error? Fossilization? Deviation?

Assessing the seriousness


of mistakes in context
A Vietnamese woman is in Cambodia. She is talking to a
Cambodian woman about her daughter. During the
conversation, the woman drops some of her final consonant
sounds.
Yesterday I played with my daughter. She is 5 years old. She likes
to play with other children.
These mistakes are:
1) Not serious: The message is clear from the context.
2) Sort of serious: The mistakes are distracting.
3) Serious: The mistakes probably make it hard to understand.

Assessing the seriousness


of mistakes in context
A Vietnamese man is in America. He wants to greet an
American in a friendly way, but his intonation is
monotone.
Good afternoon. How are you?
This mistake is:
1) Not serious: The listener can understand the greeting.
2) Sort of serious: The listener is not sure if the speaker
is sincere.
3) Serious: The listener probably feels that the speaker
is unfriendly.

Assessing the seriousness


of mistakes in context
A VN official is giving a presentation at an ASEAN meeting.
When he speaks, his grammar and vocab. are perfect, but
he doesnt use sentence stress or intonation effectively.
I would like to take this opportunity to make a very
important proposal. I strongly believe that the ASEAN
Economic Community should benefit all member nations
This mistake is:
1) Not serious: He speaks clearly so everyone can
understand.
2) Sort of serious: His English is clear, but hes a little boring
to listen to.
3) Serious: He doesnt effectively present his argument
because he doesnt emphasize important words.

Assessing the seriousness


of mistakes in context
A Vietnamese woman is in France. She is talking to a French
friend in English. She cannot pronounce the th sounds // or
//, so she uses other similar sounds, like /s/ or /z/.
The other day I was with my brother. Hes thirteen years old
and is the third oldest in the family.

These mistakes are:


1) Not serious: The message is clear from the context.
2) Sort of serious: The mistakes are distracting.
3) Serious: The mistakes probably make it hard to understand.

Assessing the seriousness


of mistakes in context

The seriousness of mistakes depends on who is talking


to whom, where, and for what purpose.

We are now going to look at some common


Vietnamese mistakes and ways to correct them. But
please keep in mind that in certain contexts, these
mistakes may be fine.

Vietnamese learners and


English pronunciation

Vietnamese learners and


English pronunciation
Ask someone near you:
1) Do you think most Vietnamese students find
English pronunciation easy or difficult?
2) Which aspects of pronunciation do you think
they find difficult? Provide some examples.

L1 Transfer

Students difficulties in a foreign language are


often due to the transfer of linguistic features
from the mother tongue to the foreign
language. This is called L1 transfer.
It is likely that many of the difficulties that you
have just discussed are a result of L1 transfer.

Common Vietnamese difficulties


Final consonant sounds
a) I waited for you last night.*
b) Trang plays the guitar very well.*
c) Please forward those two emails to me.*
d) My favorite color is black.

*It should be noted that the mistakes in a, b, and c could


also be caused by not understanding the grammar rules.

Common Vietnamese difficulties


Intonation
a) Are you from Thailand? (rising)
b) Where are you from? (falling)
c) Wow! What a wonderful surprise! (to express an excited
emotion)
d) Id like a cup of coffee, please. (to express politeness
and/or friendliness)

Common Vietnamese difficulties


Consonant clusters
a) weeks:
b) months:
c) twelfth:

/wi:ks/
/mns/
/twelf/

CVCC
CVCCC
CCVCCC

Note that all of these words are one syllable.

Common Vietnamese difficulties


Word stress
a) toMORrow
b) repeTItion
c) REcord (n), or reCORD (v)

Common Vietnamese difficulties


English spelling and pronunciation
a) Christmas should be pronounced with /k/ instead of //.
b) The /s/, in island, should be silent: it shouldnt be
pronounced like Iceland.

Common Vietnamese difficulties


Individual vowel and consonant sounds
a) Making a distinction between vowels /i:/ and /I/, as in
beat and bit
b) The following consonant sounds may also be difficult:
//, //, //, //, //, //.

General tips on
correction

General tips on correction


Activity A

Read the 6 tips on correction.


Which one do you think is the most important?
Are there any that you disagree with?
Are there any that you would add?
Talk with the people around you.

General tips on correction


1) In general, try to avoid correcting students
during free speaking activities. This disrupts
the flow of their fluency practice. You can
correct them afterwards.
2) As with all correction, consider the student
who made the mistake. If it is a shy student,
you should be careful about how you correct
him/her.

General tips on correction


3) Remember that you do not have to correct
every mistake. Focus especially on those
mistakes which you think would cause
misunderstanding.
4) And also, focus on mistakes which you can
confidently correct. There is no point in saying that
something is wrong if you yourself are unable to
demonstrate or explain the correct version.

General tips on correction


5) Although its not always possible, try to
consider your individual students goals when
correcting.
6) Ideally, the mistake should be treated as an
opportunity for students to learn something
more in depth.

Feedback

Techniques for teaching


pronunciation

Techniques for teaching pronunciation


Activity B
Look at the different techniques for teaching
pronunciation on the handout. Discuss the
following questions with your partner?
1) Have you used any of these techniques
before?
2) Which techniques do you like/dislike?
3) Do you have any questions about these
techniques?

Techniques for teaching pronunciation


Individual sounds:
point to the phonemic chart
exaggerate your mouth position
show/draw a picture of a mouth diagram
explain if a consonant is voiced or unvoiced
explain how it differs from a VN sound
follow up with a tongue twister
write an S on the WB, and point to it when
students dont say it
drill the word

Techniques for teaching pronunciation

Consonant clusters:
write the word in phonemic script
drill the word backwards, sound by sound, and
build up the word
drill the whole word

Techniques for teaching pronunciation

Word stress:
write the word with the stress over it
divide the word into syllables
write the word in phonemic script
ask the class for other words with the same
stress pattern
clap the stress pattern with the class
drill the word

Techniques for teaching pronunciation

Sentence stress:
mark the stressed words
elicit different meanings for contrastive stress
explain that content words are usually
stressed more than function words
drill the sentence

Techniques for teaching pronunciation


Intonation:
write the intonation pattern on the WB
explain the rising and falling tendencies of
intonation in WH- and Yes/No questions,
statements, and tag questions
draw the pattern in the air with your hands
demonstrate the difference with and without
intonation, e.g., if sounding friendly or polite
drill the sentences

Feedback

Applying the teaching techniques


to some common mistakes

Applying the teaching techniques to


some common mistakes
Activity c
Look at the mistakes below. Talk with the people
near you. Choose suitable techniques to correct
these mistakes. Afterwards, practice these
techniques by playing the roles of student and
teacher.

Applying the teaching techniques to


some common mistakes
1. Consonant clusters not pronounced:
Ive been in Danang for six months.
2. Dropped consonant sounds:
She plays basketball.

3. Mispronounced th sound, //:


We saw them yesterday.
4. Wrong word stress:
REcognition (should be recogNItion)

5. No intonation: The intonation peaks on meet.

Its nice to meet you!

Summary

VN people speak with both NNESs and NESs.


English functions as an International language,
and a regional language within ASEAN nations.
There are different models of English.
We need to consider our students goals and
attitudes, and how they figure into the larger
picture of English in SE Asia and the world.
Teaching pronunciation is as important as ever.
Teaching pronunciation is more complex than
listen and repeat, or correct and incorrect.

Questions?

References

Crystal, D. 1995. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of English. Cambridge: Cambridge


University Press.
Crystal, D. 2003. English as a Global Language (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Holliday, A. 2005. The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language.
Oxford University Press.
Jenkins, J. 2007. English as Lingua Franca: Attitude and Identity. Oxford University
Press.
Kachru, B. 1992. The Other Tongue: English across Cultures (2nd ed.). University of
Illinois Press.
Image 1: www.portwallpaper.com
Image 2: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/commentisfree+education/linguistics

Image 3: http://doanbangoc.researchland.net/2011/07/world-englishes/
Image 4: http://socialstudiesmontfort.blogspot.com/2007/11/asean-charter-slowdance.html

Image 5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elodiep/3243450001/

Image 6: http://talkvietnam.com/2012/05/vietnamese-youths-opt-for-overseas-studies/

Image 7: http://www.sse-franchise.com/soapbox/201102/04/english-pronunciation%E8%8B%B1%E8%AA%9E%E3%81%AE%E7%99%BA%E9%9F%B3-for-japanese-people/

Image 8: http://adrianpronchart.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/the-phonemes-have-got-me/

THANK YOU!
ANDREW TWEED
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Email: adtweed@gmail.com