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N.K. - Turkey said:
Pronunciation problems in TurkeyI decided to write an article on the topic ‘Pronunciation problems in Turkey’ because I think pronunciation is a real problem in Turkey. I think all ESL and EFL students do have pronunciation problems no matter what country they are originally from. In this article I’m going to investigate the areas of difficulties students have with pronunciation, analyze the problems to find the reasons, and finally, to find solutions. (60) To make practical experiment, I’ve gone to the ordinary ‘Orhanli high school’, where my friend works as an english teacher. He’s given me an opportunity to speak with his class and discuss the pronunciation problems they have. There were about 12 students in the class. And none of them could pronounce [?] and [ð] sounds correctly. Some of them pronounced the word ‘THANK’ like [ta?k] some like [sa?k]. The same is with the word THEN, it was pronounced like [zen] and [den]. One of the students, his name was Adem, said that it was quite difficult to pronounce words with clusters of consonant sounds like STRENGTH. Then I asked what the most difficult word was in english, he said: ‘CONGRATULATONS’. I didn’t stop asking, and to my surprise the students were very active. The next what we discussed was sounds that are not pronounced like KNOW, KNOWLEDGE, KNIFE, WRITE, WHO. Students find difficult to pronounce this kind of words correctly especially while reading. Almost all off them pronounce [kn?u], [kn?l??], [kna?f], [vra?t], [vu:]. The same way they pronounced words with –ed endings, like WATCHED and KICKED as they are written [w??ed] and [k?ked]. Then I asked students to read the word I’d written on the board ‘WEST’ and they read it as [vest], they said they could not understand the difference between two sounds [w] and [v]. Some words are even funny to the Turkish students, for example SPA. In this word fortis [s] is followed by plosive [p]. The students have found this word difficult to pronounce and add extra sound, so it became [s?pa:], that means foal in Turkish. In the same way sport becomes [s?p?:t] and so on. Also I’ve understood that students don’t understand the difference between long and short sounds for example [?] and [i:]. They usually pronounce long sounds as short, so some words take absolutely another meaning for example feel as [f?l], some words can take dirty meaning like sheet if you pronounce it as [??t] or beach as [b??]. The last thing that drew my attention was [?] sound. I asked the students to make up sentences in Present Continuous Tense, for example ‘I’m playing football’ or ‘He’s writing’. All of them pronounced the –ing as [?ng] instead of [??]. (240) Of cause the main reason of these problems is the difference between Turkish and english language. The main feature of Turkish language is the alternation of the consonant and vowel sounds, the clusters of consonants is found very rare and usually there are only two consonant sounds coming together. Also words are pronounced as they are written, so you can understand the spelling of the word as you hear it, and you can hardly confuse two different words. There are no such sounds as [?], [ð] and [w] in Turkish. So it’s quite normal to find it difficult to pronounce all above sounds in the first year of learning. Students need special training to get used to them. (80) Unfortunately classes are unequipped. The room where we had our lesson had nothing except board and desks. There were not any visual aids on the walls, a tape recorder and all the more the computer. At the lesson I asked students if they sing songs or do some pronunciation drillings. Well, they don’t. After the class I spoke with my friend about it and he told me that they have to miss phonetic part of teaching. Every year students are to pass written exams. In order to pass them, curriculum is organized in particular way focusing on the grammar and vocabulary. There is no time and activities dedicated to the pronunciation training in the program. Consequently even though students are good at grammar, their speaking skills remain undeveloped. Besides, the International Phonetic Alphabet is taught only at the last yeah of high school. Unfortunately the ordinary school teacher has nothing to do with the unreasonable schooling system and schedule. We have to follow the program, but we can be more creative and enthusiastic doing our job. english teachers’ staff all together or a teacher with his/her students can craft visual aids, including International Phonetic Alphabet for the english room. Every lesson you can leave several minutes to practice specific sound, or sing songs. It does work. After discussion I had some time left and had opportunity to teach the students to pronounce those sounds I mentioned above. We made drillings, played games and laugh, it was very enjoyable. Some of the students after some training managed to pronounce correct sounds; others need longer and deeper training. I don’t believe that it’s impossible to teach students to pronounce unusual sounds or groups of sounds correctly. I started learning english in the primary school; we had never learned Phonetic Alphabet as something specific at school, until I entered the english Teaching faculty. At University we learned the sounds in detailed way. However I knew the way sounds were written on paper, because our teachers taught every sound one by one in the process of learning the new vocabulary, writing transcription on the board. We had vocabulary book, every page we divided into three parts for english and Russian equivalents of the word and for the transcription between them. In conclusion I want to say that it is possible to teach students to pronounce unusual sounds or groups of sounds correctly without special equipment like computers and tape recorders, all you need as a teacher is to improve your own pronunciation and be the model for you class.

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