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The native speakers of chinese can have many difficulties pronouncing english from a language standpoint and a cultural standpoint. From the cultural standpoint, “The chinese students are comparatively quiet and shy… and they are afraid of failure, laughter and ridicule.”1 I have also noticed from personal experience that it is more difficulty getting to know them from my experiences living in spain and united states. Talking about pronunciation of english by chinese native speakers, the two big difficulties I know from personal experience is saying ‘r' and ‘l' and understanding how intonation differences affects the meaning of a whole sentences. After reading over my research article, the
chinese speakers are missing a number sounds that we use in english for example, the vowel sound /æ/ and the consonant sound /ð/. This leads to the chinese students substituting sounds that are close in their native tongue. According to the article, the way to start to overcome this is first to have the students be able to hear this ‘alien' sound. Once heard in words, it can be practiced till it is reasonably well. chinese is a tonal language and english is an intonation language. In chinese every single syllable is pronounced in the same rhythm whereas in english the rhythm is emphasis on the stress of the sentence and stressed syllables take more time to pronounce. The difficulties that
native chinese speaker come across is that they bring this same discipline to english and pronounce every syllable with the same timing and losing the stress and intonation that can really define the meaning of the sentence. In my personal experience this has led to misunderstandings, even amongst friends, though I do realize that this problem exists. This goes to show how deeply engrained is the use of stress syllables and intonation is in the english language. The chinese language has no concept of short and long vowels and this can lead to difficulty hearing (and therefore speaking) the vowel sounds for example sheep and ship may be heard the same by the student, according to the article. Also, to further complicate things depending on the regional chinese spoken by the student different sound patterns may cause common issues for that localization of chinese,
as stated by the article. For example, in the Yunnan province bad /æ/ with bed /e/ are difficult to distinguish versus life /l/ and knife /n/ in the Sichuan province. In english, we have 8 phonemes that are paired and pronounced differently only by being voiced or voiceless and chinese only has one set that is similar to english in this respect. The article states, this leads to a tendency of chinese speakers to skipping and unknowingly mispronouncing this phonemes. Because, in english, this does not affect the understanding of the statement it is often forgiven by native speakers of english, however; this does lead to an noticeable accent that is familiar to native english speakers. In conclusion,
for a teacher to be an effective teacher teaching chinese speakers than he has to be aware of these challenges that these particular speakers have with the english language. By being informed and planning lessons to highlight these differences to the student early in their english learning career, many of these pitfalls can be skipped more readily. Z. Fachun & Y. Pengpeng “A Study of Pronunciation Problems of english Learners in china” June 2009. Asian Social Science Vol. 5 No. 6. 1Li Hua, Xu. (1991). Developing Student's Confidence in Speaking english. Modern english
teacher (3): 74.
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