Pronunciation and Phonology in the EFL Classroom - Issues with the International Phonetic Alphabet
There are two issues that need to be stressed when working with the international phonemic alphabet. First is the fact that we are no longer concerned with how a word is traditionally spelled. Additionally we need to stress that we are only concerned with the sounds needed to correctly produce a word. So rather than numerous spellings, which can often be pronounced in different ways, we have one symbol representing one sound. Once we can isolate a sound, rather than juggling various spellings, we can work with our students on how to say that sound. Doing that successfully is related to manner and place of articulation, which will be covered shortly. To get a better understanding of the phonemic alphabet, let's take a look at our chart. In the bottom half of our chart we have our consonant sounds. Each symbol represents one sound whereas in the Roman alphabet one consonant letter could produce a few different sounds, such as in the case with a C. It can be a hard C as in cake or it can be a soft C as in nice. With the phonemic alphabet, we alleviate that confusion again with one phoneme representing one sound. We've gotten rid of the C and replaced it simply with a ?k? sound as a cake or a ?s? sound as in nice. Most of the consonant sounds are represented by letters, which coincide with the Roman alphabet; however, we do have eight symbols which can confuse students when they're just getting this introduced to them. First, we have this symbol, which represents a ?ch? sound typically spelt with a CH. Next to that we have this symbol which represents the G sound. Moving further down we have our TH sounds. One sound would be as in think; another sound would be as in that. Moving over we have this symbol, which represents the SH sound Shh and this symbol which represents the sound as in measure. Here we have the ng symbol which represents the ?ng? sound as in song and lastly we have this symbol, which looks like it would represent the J sound but it doesn't it represents the Y sound as in ?y?.
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