Unit 5 – Pronunciation and Phonology

Pronunciation is an important element of learning a language. Sometimes, English pronunciation is less important than it would be in other languages. With so many immigrants living in English-speaking countries, the world has become accustomed to listening to heavily accented English, and consequently developed their listening skills. People have developed the attitude of it’s right because I can understand it (rather than I understand it because it’s right).

On the other hand, English is bamboozling. It is not said how it is written. In one word a group of letters produce one sound, in the next word almost the same group of letters produce a different sound. Also, for many nationalities, the way we move our mouth is difficult for them to mimic to produce sounds correctly.

We no longer teach RP English (‘Queen’s English’). If you think most people will understand a given student then it is good enough. If you don’t think they are clear then you are going to have to correct the pronunciation or teach it. When you teach pronunciation you treat the pronunciation point you are making as though it was a grammar point. This means you develop PPP lessons for pronunciation.

In the rest of the unit you will be introduced to some of the key elements in pronunciation and how to explain it. In places, it is really difficult at first; it gets easier we promise. You don’t need to be a nuclear scientist to learn it but it may take a little perseverance.