Causes and solutions to pronunciation problems12008815x , So Hee Kim Hong kong is one of the most preferred locations for international business in Asia Pacific, and is becoming more so. Naturally business English skills is becoming increasingly important. Business English skills can be categorized into three different parts. These parts are writing, presentation and communication. All are equally important, but this essay will focus more on commuicaition. To be be more specific, it will focus on pronunciation.
For, when I first came to hongkong, I realized that people’s grammer and vocabulary is quiet good, but it is sometimes hard to understand them because of their pronunciation. Because relatively other aspects are quite good, I think that hong kong can increase their competitiveness in business English by focusing on this aspect. So, the following will cover the objective of the essay, the causes for the inaccurate pronunciation and the solutions. The objective is to look into how hong kong people can achieve an ‘acceptable’ pronunciation.
An acceptable pronunciation is ‘ a pronunciation when other people can understand what he/she says and the speaker’s English is pleasant to listen to; in other words, the speaker is comfortably intelligible. ’ (James,2010) To be short, the pronunciation doesn’t have to be like a native speaker but just have to be understood comfortably. There are few factors that leads to the problem of pronunciation in hong kong, despite the early age the children start to learn English. One is the influence of their mother tongue. And the other is the way how pronunciation is taught in schools. Candice, 2006) There are lots of studies that proves that the first language have a profound affect on learning the second language (Carter,2001). In hong kong, their first language is Cantonese. And there are differences in phonology between Cantonese and English. First, unlike English, Cantonese is logographic. Because they learn their mother tongue in a logographic method, they might apply the same way when learning English. That is, they may learn apply visual recognition method when learning English words rather than applying the phonetic analysis method.
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And this can decrease the ability to link letters and phonemes, which can affect their pronunciation. Also there are differences in the languages syllable structure, sound inventory and prosodic patterns. (Catherine,2002) But the more pressing problem is the insignificant emphasis placed on pronunciation teaching. For these kinds of problems can be overcome with a good system. First, teachers should clarify the differences between English and Cantonese phonological systems.
In a study, a research(Candice,2006) was conducted to students of hong kong to find out where the most frequent pronunciation errors occur and the reason behind this. The research showed that most of these problems occurred, because the students did not have a clear idea of the differences between the two sound systems. For example, the /l/ sound in Cantonese cannot be found in a word-final position. So most of the students in the research had a tendency to not spell out the /l/ when pronouncing ‘will’. Learning phonics in an appropriate method is also important.
Phonics is teaching reading by training beginners to associate letters with their sound values. By learning phonics students will be able to read and pronounce properly. Recently in primary schools in hong kong, phonics has become a major component of the English language curriculum. But there still seems to be a lot of limitation concerning this. The most pressing problem regarding this issue, is that the knowledge base for teaching phonics is not established. So the teachers will have to work on finding a clear methodology for teaching phonics in secondary language contexts.
For example, in a study the researcher suggested adopting awareness raising activities for phonics learning. (paul,2008) This means increasing student’s awareness to the general sensitivity to sound-spelling correspondence. This will increase their ability to notice and deduce the specific relationships themselves. This will lead to better performance of students in sounding out a new word from it’s spelling or spelling a word from it’s pronunciation. Also, teachers should make use of today’s technology.
For example, there are so many good computer program for learning English pronunciation these days. The strong point of using computer software is that it allows student to repeatedly listen to what they want, and help them to learn at anytime, anywhere. And by motivating them to use these systems in their daily lives, they can help students develop independency in learning pronunciation. Pronunciations in English is important, in people’s daily lives and also in business society. Poor pronunciation can have a negative impression and also create prejudice against the person. saylor) So, in order to have a good communication skills in the business world, having an ‘acceptable’ pronunciation is a necessity. The main cause for pronunciation problems in hongkong can be found in the huge difference between their mother tounge and English. But by applying an effective English education system it is not a problem that could not be overcome.. As international business in increasing in hong kong, overcoming this weak point will have great effect on the nation’s competitiveness as the center for global businesses.
References. 1. http://www. ehow. com/about_6636066_importance-english-pronunciation. html 2. An analysis of Hong Kong native Cantonese Form Three students’ problems in English Pronunciation. ( Chiu Kik Ling Candice,2006) 3. Teaching Phonics through Awareness-Raising Activities (Paul Sze, 2008) 4. Learning to read English among Chinese Children (Rebecca Treiman) 5. The Significance of Pronunciation in Engilsh Language Teaching (Abbas Pourhosein Gilakjani, 2012)
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