The "Cinderella" of
by Dimitrios Thanasoulas
from some cultural backgrounds (for example, speakers of Japanese
or Chinese) often think that it is impossible for them to
pronounce English well. In some cases, improving pronunciation
may be frowned upon within some communities, and the EFL learners
might be discouraged from making any progress. If English,
let's say, is associated with invasion and oppression, then
it may be very difficult for learners to master the language.
Mother tongue influence
other things, the sound system of learners' mother tongue
might be trasnferred into the foreign language in the following
When there is a sound in the foreign language, which is absent
from the native sound inventory, or vice versa, learners might
be incapable of producing or even perceiving the sound.
2) Sound combination rules, which are different from those
obtaining in the native language, might also present a difficulty
3) Suprasegmental (prosodic) patterns might also be transferred
from the native language (Avery & Ehrlich, 1992).
Setting realistic goals
to completely eradicate a foreign accent in an EFL class is
an unrealistic goal. It would be more reasonable to bring
learners up to a point where they do not make pronunciation
mistakes that would affect their being understood. As long
as pronunciation does not impede successful communication,
it should be considered acceptable. Once again, "native
speaker" norms should not be the yardstick against which
to assess learners' pronunciation performance.
general, EFL teachers must make sure that:
learners produce large quantities of sentences by themselves;
learners hear many different native models (in other
words, they should be exposed to a wide variety of vernacular
dialects and different pronunciations);
learners receive feedback;
suprasegmentals (amplitude, duration and pitch) are
learners should feel relaxed in the language learning
setting (Kenworthy, 1987; Eskenazi, 1999).
of effective pronunciation teaching
the above factors in mind, teachers should follow some pronciples
of effective pronunciation teaching. In particular:
They should learn to describe pronunciation and show how foreign
language sounds are physically articulated (Phonetic or phonemic
symbols can come in handy).
2. They should record their learners' speech and have them
listen to recordings of themselves.
3. They should be aware of their own pronunciation. (A teacher's
accent may be different from the Received Pronunciation, which
students may think to be correct).
4. They should create a non-threatening, confidence-raising
5. They should teach pronunciation a little at a time (presenting
segmentals first, then suprasegmentals).
6. They should set realistic goals.
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