Pronunciation problems of english
learners in South KoreaThere are many problems and pronunciation issues that can arise when english
learners are trying to improve their skills. These issues him coming about from the learning of english
language, give a very wide and varied. It happened to be in Korea, there are a very specific set of pronunciation issues that are inherently common.
Some of the most unique and problematic vocalization errors made by Korean learners of english
are as follows:
• The letters "B" and "F" are vocalized as the letter "P".
• The letter "V" is voiced as "B".
• The letter "Z" sounding as "J" or "Ch".
• The letter "R" sounded as "L".
• Skipping of the letter "S", or voicing "S" as a "Th".
• Adding "ee" and "eu" sounds to the end of words.
• Soft "s" (as in "city") voice as "Sh".
• Lack of intonation, rhythm, and stressing on various words sentences.
The manner in which these problems can be corrected is through careful and meticulous teaching of how the mouth is supposed to be forming the correct sounds via correct positioning of the tongue in relation to the lips, as well as forming the correct shape with the lips themselves. It is only through careful analysis and physical study and creating a type of muscle memory and mental association with the physical body's vocal parts, can the student of english
master their skill. For example, to create the sound of the "V" in "Vet", it must be voiced, with friction of the bottom lips against the bottoms of the upper teeth. Even the mixing of the "B" and "P" sounds, however similar in their physical formation, can of course be corrected.
I would consider pronunciation to be a extremely important factor, perhaps tied for second place, in my opinion, with correct grammar usage just slightly behind pronunciation. I would personally place knowledge of vocabulary as number one. Stemming for me back to High School, my spanish
instructor always considered vocabulary to be critical, and the same was true of my japanese
instructor in college. Without vocabulary, communication is not possible. Without proper pronunciation, communication can be lost or misunderstood. And, without proper grammar, information can still be conveyed, but still very likely to be misunderstood.
The unique difficulty that Korean english
learners experience is of course related to the way in which their mother-tongue is pronounced, as well as the way their written script hangul is written. Because of the typical way that hangul is written horizontally and left to right just like Latin based scripts, Koreans are already familiar with the method of written english
. The primary difficulty is the vocalization of english
(although written issues still most certainly to occur). The Korean language itself is a "syllable timed language in which individual word stress is insignificant" (Paul Shoebottom of FIS, 1996-2012). It is in this way, that intonation and stressing, a very common occurrence in english
, becomes problematic. The lack of honorific language in english
, and instead just slight degrees of formality in speech, could make english
easier in some respects, but it could also potentially pose a problem for english
learners, as they may pause to try to address someone in a specific manner according to status - when such things as honorifics are very limited and barely existing in english
. Because of different origins between english
and Korean, cognates (words looking similar because of similar origins) would be lacking between the two languages. This lack of cognates can make for a difficult acquisition of english
for the Korean student more-so than the spanish
, German, or italian
student by comparison.
If I was to overly-simplify the english
learning experience, I would suggest that, as far as importance, the whole process can be funneled down to memorization (both mental and physical), and practice. Through continued diligence in the memorization of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and muscle memory for word formation, and practice, the complexity of english
can be broken down, and its nuances can be demystified. This whole process of course is not that simple, and will take a great amount of time and patience, but perhaps by having an extremely short and concise over-simplified mantra of sorts, perhaps then the learning process of students can be made easier with a knowledge of what is basically required of them to acquire english
Nathan Bauman, Teacher of ESL in Seoul, South Korea:
Ted Power, english
Paul Shoebottom of Frankfurt International School: