TEFL Arlington Oregon



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A learner of any language is going to encounter pronunciation problems. These problems include individual sound or syllabic pronunciation, tone, and rhythm. Usually, all of these problems are faced at some time. thai is a tonal language with five separate tones, whereas english is considered a stressed language. This means that english speakers give stress to certain words while other words are quickly spoken. The stress is usually given to the “important” words in the sentence, while the other words are mumbled through. Therefore, while each word in a thai sentence is spoken in varying tones, the stress remains the same throughout. I am of the thought that pronunciation should be one of the first things you learn in english. You can live without advanced vocabulary by using simple words to get your point across. You can also live without advanced grammar and use only simple grammar structures. But there is no such thing as simple pronunciation. If you don't have good pronunciation, you just have bad pronunciation. There are several methods that are being used to battle the pronunciation war. The easiest solution is for the student to surround themselves with the language they are learning as much as possible. This means watching television and listening to talk radio programs with native speakers, and making friends with many native speakers as well. When teaching thai students we can use hand movements to emphasize word-stress and sounds that the thai students tend to drop, like /l/ and /s/. We can also play up tougher-ending words by exaggerating the syllable-ending sounds (i.e. tool-luh instead of just tool) Once this practice is down, it is also a good idea to focus on the stress-timed quality of english. Students often get so caught up in pronouncing each word correctly, they tend to pronounce the sentences in an unnatural manner. By focusing on the stress- time factor in english, students begin sounding much more authentic as the cadence of the language begins to ring true. thai students use to substitute W for R, this kind of substitution is called “gliding of liquids”, a way which is very common in native english speaking children too. thai has an L sound (?) very much like the english L, but they also have an “R” sound (?) which is quite close to the L sound (NOT the same as the english R sound). In everyday speech, they often use (?) in place of (?). Nevertheless thaii speakers don´t drop the L or R at the start of a syllable, only when it is inmediately after another consonant. For example: krap -> kap (dropped r) rian -> lian (r changes to l) But never: ling -> ing rian -> ian L and R here refer to ? and ?, not the english L and R. There is no “Th” sound in thai, so one will have to teach it from scratch. It is usual that almost all thai students have huge problems with “th”. Even fluent adult speakers sometimes slip and substitute “t” or “d” sounds. The thai language has 3 letters in a 44 consonant alphabet that translate as the english "ch", but no letters directly equivalent to either the english "th" or "sh") - despite having a previous Prime Minister whose surname was written, in english, as "Thaksin Shinawatra". Words written (phonetically) as including a "ph" are pronounced as an aspirated "P", as in phuket ( the final "t" isn't pronounced). By other hand, thai verbs don't change their spelling or pronunciation for tenses, plurals or 1st/2nd or 3rd person. Singular and plural nouns are the same word. This makes english grammar an uphill struggle for some thais. Overall, the key to help the thai students developing good pronunciation and gramma skills is to ensure that they understand why it is important, and care enough to want to improve it themselves. Pronunciation is not easy to come by, but with some time and effort, the skill can be mastered.