The "Cinderella" of
by Dimitrios Thanasoulas
few words on suprasegmental (prosodic) features
experience shows that it is worthwhile to introduce sounds
in prosodic patterns even at the initial stage of learning,
as it brings the idea of "contextualised" sounds
into connected speech. It could be argued that in speech,
suprasegmental features of stress, rhythm, pitch, and intonation
are equally important in achieving cohesion and coherence-two
terms usually associated with written discourse only.
There are two main reasons to focus on prosodic features:
Prosody serves several communicative functions;
Prosody facilitates or constrains other dimensions
of communication (Hargrove & McGarr, 1994: 4).
As a communicative means, prosody performs the following functions:
pragmatic (to focus attention on important information,
differentiate old information from new information, signal
turns in discourse, link sentences to create texts);
syntactic (to mark syntactic structures);
lexical (to differentiate words);
attitudinal (to identify patterns common to various
groups (Couper-Kuhlen, 1986));
intelligibility function (modifications in prosody
influence speech comprehension, if prosodic information becomes
more important; even segmentally correct speech with minor
prosodic errors may not be intelligible (Allen & Hawkins,
1980; Lieberman, 1967); prosodic errors reduce attention to
the meaning of utterances).
sum up, teaching pronunciation is of paramount importance
in foreign language learning. To ensure effective pronunciation
teaching, there are certain factors that should be considered:
biological, personal, sociocultural, pedagogic, mother tongue
influence, and setting realistic goals. Nevertheless, pronunciation
teaching should not only focus on segmental features, i.e.,
teaching specific sounds or nuances of sounds, but also on
suprasegmental or prosodic features, i.e., stress, rhythm,
pitch, and intonation, which greatly contribute to communication.
Of course, all this cannot be achieved unless teachers follow
certain principles of effective pronunciation teaching: learning
to describe pronunciation, creating a non-threatening atmosphere,
and teaching pronunciation step by step.
G. D., & Hawkins, S. (1980). Phonological rhythm: Definition
and Development. In G. H. Yeni-Komshian, J. F. Kavanagh, &
C. A. Ferguson (Eds.), Child phonology. Volume I: Production
(pp. 227-255). New York: Academic Press.
Avery, P., & Ehrlich, S. (1992). Teaching American English
pronunciation. New York: OUP.
Brown, H. D. (1994). Principles of language learning and teaching.
(3rd edition). Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Celce-Murcia, N., Brinton, M. D., & Goodwin, J. M. (1996).
Teaching Pronunciation. A reference for teachers of English
to speakers of other languages. New York: CUP.
Couper-Kuhlen, E. (1986). An Introduction to English prosody.
Baltimore: Edward Arnold.
Dalton, D. F. (1997). Some techniques for teaching pronunciation.
The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1. Retrieved November
1, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.aitech.ac.jp/iteslj/.
Dalton, C., & Seidlhofer, S. (1994). Pronunciation. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Eskenazi, M. (1999). Using automatic speech processing for
foreign language Pronunciation tutoring: some issues and a
prototype. Language Learning and Technology, 2(2), 62-76.
Flege, J. E. (1981). The phonological basis of foreign accent:
A hypothesis. TESOL Quarterly, 15(4), 443-455.
Gelvanovsky, G. V. (2002). Effective pronunciation teaching:
principles, factors, and teachability. In P. V. Sysoyev (Ed.),
Identity, Culture, and Language Teaching. USA: CREEES.
Hargrove, P. M., & McGarr, N. S. (1994). Prosody management
of Communication disorders. San Diego, California: Singular
Publishing Group, Inc.
Hudson, R. A. (1980). Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: CUP.
Kelly, L. G. (1969). 25 centuries of language teaching. Rowley,
MA: Newbury House.
Kenworthy, J. (1987). Teaching English pronunciation. New
Krashen, S. D. (1973). Lateralisation, language learning and
the critical period: Some new evidence. Language Learning,
Laroy, C. (1995). Pronunciation. New York: OUP.
Lenneberg, E. (1967). Biological foundations of language.
New York: Wiley.
Lieberman, P. (1967). Intonation, perception and language.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Pennington, M. (1989). Teaching pronunciation from the top
down. RELC Journal, 20(1), 21-38.
Purcell, E., & Suter, R. (1980). Predictors of pronunciation
accuracy: A Reexamination. Language Learning, 30(2), 271-287.
English Literature and Linguistics at Athens University
and then did an MA in Applied Linguistics at Sussex
University. After that, he earned an MBA from Mooreland
University and is currently finishing the second year
of my PhD studies in Education at Nottingham University.
His academic interests include fostering cultural awareness
and learner autonomy, as well as such issues as language
and ideology, Critical Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics,
Sociolinguistics, and the Psychology of Education.
can be contacted at:
the beginning of the article
to the articles index