Teach English in Luohuang Zhen - Chongqing

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Phonetics and phonologyPhonology is the study of the sound systems of languages and phonetics is the study of speech. Different languages will have different sounds. The study of the different sounds that are used in languages can help us to understand how to explain how sounds can be made by people when they are learning about a new language. Phonetics is used in dictionaries and other books to indicate the pronunciation of words. This can be of great benefit to students, but only if they know how to read the phonetic alphabet. To a non-native speaker of English, the difficulty in pronouncing words may vary depending on the person?s native language and how different it is to English. Phonetics helps people, who are learning to speak English as an additional language, to make the sounds required to pronounce a word correctly. Learning the phonetic alphabet so that words can be read phonetically, using speech diagrams and by studying the stress, rhythm and intonation that is used in English can all help. When teaching English as a foreign language, phonetics can also be used to help students to identify the meaning of a spoken sentence with different stressed words or with different intonation. These are factors which are not always covered in an English class but are important in understanding spoken English. If students are able to read the phonetic alphabet, they will be able to look up a word in English and be able to pronounce it. To an English speaker, this may seem unnecessary as simply reading the word in English will allow a person to pronounce it, but English is not a phonetic language, so this is not the case. In addition to there being many words that are spelt and pronounced the same but having different meanings (homonyms), there are also many words which are spelt the same but pronounced differently (homographs) and words that are spelt differently but pronounced the same (homophones). To a learner of the English language this may be confusing and may cause difficulty in pronouncing the words correctly. If the student has learnt the phonetic alphabet, they will be able to look the word up in a dictionary and understand how the word should be pronounced with little trouble. Homophones, such as ?two?, ?to? and ?too?, may appear, to a non-native speaker, to require a different pronunciation, but if looked up in the dictionary, will have the same phonetics. Homographs, such as the word ?close? which can mean either to shut something or to be near to something, are defined based on the context in which the word is used before being able to pronounce it correctly. This is just one example where studying phonetics would be useful. The benefits of studying phonetics is that it will allow students to decide how to sound out a sentence by using stress, rhythm and intonation correctly when speaking so that it is easier for them to be understood. Their spoken language will become more natural and flowing. It can be especially helpful if trying to pronounce a sound which is not present in their native language. There is a downside to phonetics. Phonetics is not taught in many classes and many people do not understand the phonetic alphabet. Learning the phonetic alphabet is a task that takes time and many teachers do not think it is worthwhile teaching the phonetic alphabet to their students. Many teachers do not put any focus on stress, rhythm, intonation or use mouth diagrams in classes. Although phonetics would be greatly beneficial to many students by enhancing their spoken English, phonetics and phonology are not touched upon in many classes and the pronunciation of words is usually taught simply by listening and repeating. The finer sounds of the words are ignored so long as the words are comprehensible and not many teachers think to mention anything about stress, intonation and rhythm to their students. Perhaps phonetics should be taught as part of regular English courses and incorporated into classes more, as it would allow the students to learn the importance of the sounds and tones in English, instead of limiting English to simple grammar and vocabulary. Word count: 695 References: 1. Wikipedia ? The free encyclopaedia, ?Phonology?. 2. ?Phonetics and phonology, an Introduction?, http://www.panl10n.net/Presentations/cambodia/Sarmad/Phonetics&Phonology.pdf 3. Phonology, http://www.ic.arizona.edu/~lsp/Phonology.html 4. ?What is phonology?, http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsPhonology.htm