Pronunciation Teaching Post-ELF

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The article in the PDF below discusses pronunciation teaching and how it needs to be modified in a situation where the target language happens to be the global lingua franca. It originally appeared as a series of blog posts on PronPack.com.

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As an English student in process to be a teacher, I think that the article is very helpful for us. I totally agree with some aspects. I think that a big problem of teaching and learning English is the fact that it is always wanted to reach a perfect accent to sound like a native English speaker, more than be intelligible or be understood for everybody who speaks English. A doubt that is always on my mind is if we are going to teach EFL to children or even people who don’t speak English at all, why do we want to sound perfect rather than to communicate intelligibly? I believe that is important to make a big effort to speak and sound correctly because we are teaching a new language that must be well known by us, but I consider more important communicate the message in a clear way than to sound like a native speaker.

For me as a student and as a future English teacher this article was very helpful, it shows EFL premise and metaphor of the prism reality, and how non-native speaker English production can differ from one place to another,even though, there is a main goal or a main technique which help to develop the students abilit. There is a wide variety of English accents around the world, so that, teachers must be aware that the most relevant thing to accomplish is that the students are able to communicate and to be understood, rather than the pronunciation features, for me as a non-native speaker of English language is very difficult to achieve the Native speaker pronunciation although there are some aspects and contents that are relevant in the pronunciation, teachers in the future should be capable of understand that the communication process is more important than the aspects of pronunciation or the standard accent students use.

We are humans, an Amazing race of live beings who have been given a gift we need to cherish: Communication. We are these greedy animals seeking to interact with each other and wanting to break all kinds of boundaries that exist all across the communicative highway we ride. Following the metaphor of the Light and prism, there we are, all these beautiful colours of the rainbow, as unique as all willing to be there together, I really liked thinking of that metaphor, for we are all so diverse, and so is language. Language is identity; identity is diverse. Why should language teaching after ELF be something restricted and Boundary setter? No way! We are all here looping for International English, International language, therefore accommodation is the goal we as teachers of English should look up to and thus trespass to our future class participants. I remember myself a couple of years ago doing cockney accent and the BBC one so hard, but one I happened to remember I am Chilean and I want to be a citizen of the World and not a Britton. Lets set the focus pointing towards intelligibility, tolerance, still keeping an eye on model, but always more on efficiency and not correctness. If we want to make a better wold, it includes the attitude of people among themselves, their language and healthy, conscious communication. Only that way we’ll be cherishing that precious gift.

In my own opinion, I agree with the idea that English is the simplest and the most appropriate language to be used as Lingua Franca. However, there are still natives of the language that are in a denial and think that accent is the most important thing in terms of communication and English should have a standard accent, but in fact, They are wrong. From my perspective as a student of the language, I think that the accent is important, but only in the case that the learner wants to sound like a native or wants to specialize in phonetics. But, if we just want to communicate with another person, the accent is not that relevant in the interaction because no matter how bad you want to sound like a native, your own accent will be shown as you relax and talk about yourself and your culture. So, as you start to learn a new language, I think that the most important thing that learners have to focus on is in the intelligibility of their speaking because no matter how strong your accent is, people will understand you.

It very important to know what kind of English should we use to teach at schools. It will help us to focus on what is useful for students to learn so that they can develop their competences, and be able to actually use the language in context, as I have been experiencing in College the last 3 years. Also, I agree with one of the purposes of the text. There should be a way of teaching English in which students use the language for their convenience, and we as teachers are the starting point for them to improve skills related to learning a second language. I also found interesting that it's kind of motivating learning English with the parameters mentioned in the text considering how difficult it is to pronounce in a native-like accent. I would be understandable and, in consequence, much easier to produce the language. I think that if that takes place, people would use the language without any prejudice.

One point that calls my attention in the text is the idea that the global lingua franca is emergent and dynamic, so it’s impossible to establish a set of rules that can’t be changed because the real use of the language means change. It is known that language fulfills the necessity of the speaker which is everywhere in the world different. Consequently, as I see it is necessary to have just a set of rules which result extremely necessary for the intelligibility of the message and do not involves other things like history or a romantic view of the language because the fact is that it is going to change and even more than so far. The text also mentioned that taking part in one side of the battle between dogma and denial is old fashioned and even more for teachers, in my opinion, because they are both centered in the final product of learning and not in the process of learning from where we are able to make changes in the learning process and make students choose the aim they have to teach them in concordance with that goal. I also agree with the idea presented in the text about the acceptance we need to develop in ourselves and students to other ’s pronunciation that always vary from one speaker to another especially between speakers from different countries that use English as a lingua franca. In this sense, I think it’s also necessary to develop the capacity of students to accommodate to new or different accents in order that they are able to fit in any situation when the usage of English as the only language available to communicate between non-English speakers.

It is very important to know what kind of English should we use to teach at schools. It will help us to focus on what is useful for students to learn so that they can develop their competences, and be able to actually use the language in context, as I have been experiencing in College the last 3 years. Also, I agree with one of the purposes of the text. There should be a way of teaching English in which students use the language for their convenience, and we as teachers are the starting point for them to improve skills related to learning a second language. I also found interesting that it's kind of motivating learning English with the parameters mentioned in the text considering how difficult it us to pronounce in a native-like accent. It would be understandable and, in consequence, much easier to produce the language. I think that if that becomes a task while teaching, people would use the language without any prejudice.

As it was mentioned in Accent snobbery, our language is like a prism, the pronunciation is like a rainbow with a wide spectrum of colors, such as the universal pronunciation of English, and therefore we cannot afford to talk or impose an exclusive pronunciation in terms of intelligibility. As we humans are different, there will be variations of pronunciation, and therefore we, as future teachers, should know or have some knowledge about what is essential or superficial for our students to know, in order to allow them to understand the objective of the communicative situation, so we can provide a feedback depending on what their thoughts or goals in pronunciation are. As an example, I can mention my experience at school with pronunciation, our teachers were not very interested in it, so they never put much effort in teaching it, but my goals were different and they still are. Here at University, we have specific classes about pronunciation and so, we can improve and we are given the choice to choose what kind of ''accent'' we like the most and how we want to speak, so our teacher is always providing opportunities and allowing us to explore the different pronunciation of words, so we can include them to our vocabulary and allow us to grow with the process of learning. The world is always changing and adapting itself to the new generations, and I truly believe that as teachers, we need to allow them to explore and adapt to the different variations of pronunciation, we must provide the feedback in order to receive, understand and compare the diversity of pronunciation features that surround us today, there is no need to correct or deny a variation if you are going to impose a unique type if pronunciation; our role must be supported by the discovery and personal growth that will help our students to get along fine with other speakers and that will allow them in terms of contribution to understanding and being understood with the rest of the world.

Nowadays, we are immense in a technological world in which every single place in the world might be just a click away from us, although people do not know your language, English is our bridge to communicate because it is used as a lingua franca, so everyone is using English in a way that is more familiar for them. Phonology, for instance, is important to produce more accurate items but sometimes if the message is understandable, although it is not well pronounced, it should be accepted as correct. There are some people that still believe that being native like is the only acceptable way to use a language, but it is not true due to, L2 acquisition is very complicated, it is like playing an instrument, because its sound improves as you practice. As a future teacher, I will always encourage my students to practice and produce language because it will make them better little by little, not frustrating them because they do not have a native like pronunciation.

In my personal experience as a student of the English Language, I have figured out how important is to be understood by another speaker even if my Pronunciation is native-like or not. At least to me, I believe that as a future English Teachers we must make sure that our students can use and express their ideas through good grammar and vocabulary use which is the most important thing to understand and learn first, then we have to focus on pronunciation, but as you mention in your article, feedback is pretty important in that process, to practice hard even if the student doesn’t sounds like native speaker, that’s why we as a teachers have to be there!! Practicing, giving opinions and corrections allow them to make mistakes. I have to tell you that I agree with your ideas and I would like Chilean Schools and universities to implement them. Good article!!

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