• Pronunciation, does it matter?

    Posted by Argelia Miranda on 8/10/2017 11:45:00 AM

          I've been attempting to learn German, and every time I have tried, I've intuitively known that "the pronunciation code" must be cracked!  Many years ago while attending an ESL professional development session I encountered a woman who taught us that if you cannot hear a particular sound in a language, you will not be able to produce the sound.  Does this imply that your comprehension of the spoken language you are trying to learn will be hampered if you have not learned and mastered the pronunciation code?  We might all agree to this: yes, it will.  Furthermore, will this affect a person's ability to spell correctly?  (The latter issue is certainly implicated in other causes, at least for some of my students!)

           I teach Spanish, which does not have a difficult pronunciation code, in my opinion [then again, depends on what language(s) one speaks].  Nonetheless, I am not sure all of my students make it a point to master the pronunciation, or are aware that knowing the phonetics of the language are essential.  So this year, I am certainly bringing this to my students' awareness in a more conscious way, and making sure I don't dose "the crack the pronunciation code lessons" throughout the semester - as presented throughout the various chapters in the book.  I shan't forget this year to give this its due importance, from the start!  (I have done so in the past, but there is certainly room for improvement and consistency!)  

                                                                              An aside, as I deviate slightly:  

    I have addressed phonetics indirectly in many ways through a lot of understandable communicative activities, especially at the beginning of the course.  I know how important it is for my students to have a sense of success, a "subconscious" language structuring in the brain as we move from activities without needing to explain, "By the way this is a reflexive verb" or "This means ____ in English" or "The word order is reversed in Spanish."  Yes, it would be lovely to just use the target language!  I do my best and we have fun!

          In my desire to learn German I conversed with a guy at the local farmer's market and he directed me to Gabriel Wyner, a firm proponent on learning the pronunciation first.  So I'm sharing the website:  https://fluent-forever.com/.  I hope you enjoy reading his anecdote as to how he got into Advanced Level Placement at Middlebury College in Vermont for a French Intensive.  (For that you can download the first chapter of his book Fluent Forever.)  Hope you enjoy the read!  I hope it's motivating, insightful, and useful to you as you learn new languages!  It's exciting to know there is no age limit to learning a language.  It's all in the . . . what's the saying?

          "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

    And I personally like to say, "Courage and Love", from A Room with a View by E.M. Forster.  Courage and Love!  Onto your first step, or 10th mile . . . to the thousand mile . . .

    "Te amo."  "Hablo español." "¿Qué dices?"



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