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How to Teach EFL Pronunciation Successfully

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Is it possible teaching English without teaching pronunciation? The “NO” answer is usually attached, yet it is common knowledge which is mostly ignored not only by the learners but also by the teacher. Considering sounds play an important role in communication, foreign language teacher is supposed to give proper attention to this. To teach English as Foreign Language pronunciation successfully, good strategies are needed applying in the classroom. Since pronunciation is the first and the most things noticed by listener when speaking, it is very important to teach it in EFL class which needs knowledge of phonetics and phonology to understand the learners’ difficulties with pronunciation. Phonetics in the study of sounds the sounds of human language (O’Grady & Donrovolsky: 1992). Phonetics transcription, especially International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), may be introduced to the learners to help them understand the sounds and practice them through the symbols. In addition, the sound producing system describing how sound is produced helps the teacher to explain how to pronounce the sound correctly.

In phonetics, tone, intonation, length, and stress are also introduced which occupy certain meaning. Phonology is the component of a grammar made up of the elements and principles that determine how sound pattern in a language (O’Grady & Donrovolsky: 1992). Phonology is concerned with the organs of speech and how somebody learns to use them. It also considers social attitudes to features of sound such as accent. Thus, knowledge of phonology and phonetics is helpful for the teacher to teach pronunciation correctly. Besides knowledge, a teacher is supposed to use the appropriate strategy to teach pronunciation successfully. Nashruddin (2013) proposes to use drilling to teach pronunciation in the classroom. After demonstrating, the teacher asks the learners to drill their pronunciation. Benefit of using drilling technique is that students will get used to pronounce the correct pronunciation. Moreover, Nasruddin also try to emphasis the importance of intonation teaching pronunciation. Different pronunciation leads to different meaning.

Therefore, EFL learners need to know how to produce utterances using correct and acceptable intonation. In conclusion, drilling as teaching strategy help the learners to understand and get used to the correct pronunciation and intonation. Other strategies to teach pronunciation successfully are looking at speech sound in other familiar languages and using computer software. Octaberlina (in Cahyono and Widyati: 2011) suggested teachers to consider to looking at the speech sounds of other languages which are familiar to the EFL learners. Consideration for this strategy was taking the advantage of religious background of the learners, such as Indonesian learners, who are familiar with Arabic in Koran, or Hebrew in Bible. For Instance, the Arabic sound / ﺚ / and / ﺪ/ can help the learners to pronounce /θ/ and /ð/ in English. In Hebrew, the sounds /sh/ and /v/ are similar with English sound /f/ and /v/. Another strategy to teach pronunciation is using computer software proposed by Zunaedy (2007 in in Cahyono and Widyati: 2011).

Through computer software, the learners are exposed to pronounce of word delivered in American English and British English. By using computer software as the model, the teacher starts introducing to the learners from how to spell English letters, how to pronounce various English words, and then how to pronounce the sentences correctly. In nutshell, other familiar languages and computer software can be used as strategy to teach pronunciation successfully. All in all, pronunciation is supposed to be taught in English classroom by applying good strategies. To teach it successfully, knowledge of phonetics and phonology should be mastered by the teacher. Moreover, teaching strategies, such as drilling or using other familiar languages and computer software, can be used to support teaching pronunciation. Engaging knowledge of phonetics and phonology and appropriate teaching strategies will produce successful teaching pronunciation in EFL class.

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