quarta-feira, 9 de março de 2011

By: D F Dalton

For ESL Students or anyone who wants to learn English it's one of the most mongrel languages on planet earth. That's because over the course of time, English has taken up words from every other major language, and so its spelling and pronunciation rules are more complicated than many languages. But for those ESL students who want to master English pronunciation like ESL teachers tutors or other native speakers, it is not hard to take the learning process step by step.

The first step is to know the alphabet very well and always to be able to think of the primary or basic sound for each letter. Some letters have more sounds than just their primary sound, but these sounds can be learned separately. First, ESL students must practice reciting or singing the 26 letters of the English alphabet together with a fluent English teacher, ESL Tutor or native speaker.

(The phonetic transcriptions below the letters will be explained during the course of these articles. Remember to recite or sing the second line faster, and to pause during the third line, so as to say all the letters in the same period of time as in the other lines. The traditional music of the alphabet song is well-known and has even been used by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a piano melody.)

A, B, C, D, E, F, G,
H, I, J, K, L M N O P,
Q, R, S, [pause,] T, U, V,
W, X, Y, and Z.

"ey, bee, see, dee, ee, ehf, dzhee,
eytsh, aee, dzhey, keh-ee, ehl ehm ehn oh pee,
kyoo, ahr, ehss ..., tee, yoo, vee,
duhbuhlyoo, ehks, waee, aand zee"

The Primary Sounds

The five letters in English that are always vowels are A, E, I, O, U; and sometimes Y and other combinations serve the function of vowels. For speakers of Oriental or Romance languages, it will be easier at the beginning to think of or associate the pure vowels as the primary sounds for these letters.

When the letters appear by themselves, the pure vowels, called the long vowels in some systems, are not as frequent in English as the short vowels; but because the pure vowels will be easier to associate, they are given as the primary sounds below. (And even if someone finds it harder to learn the distinction between long and short vowels, this does not make a big difference, because blurring this distinction is often accepted by English speakers as merely a slight Spanish accent.)

Now then, here are the primary sounds for each letter, as they appear in international words and geographical places, and the way each letter can be written in phonetic transcriptions. Letters without notes are transcribed the same way as they are spelled.

A as in father, Washington, Osaka (written as "ah")
B as in baby, ikebana, Lisbon
C as in cook, camel, Caracas (written as, and the same as, "k")
D as in did, mikado, London
E as in peso, melee, Reykjavik (written as "ey")
F as in fifty, fugu, France
G as in go, origami, Togo
H as in ahead, haiku, Holland
I as in paprika, Fiji, Nippon (written as "ee")
J as in judge, kanji, Java (written as "dzh")
K as in kids, karaoke, Kyoto
L as in left, Clinton, Lebanon
M as in mom, anime, Lima
N as in no, katakana, Ghana
O as in hope, noh, Tokyo (written as "oh")
P as in pop, pepper, Poland
Q as in qwerty, sheqel, Iraq (written as, and the same as, "k")
R as in right, Reagan, York
S as in less, sake, Spain
T as in tie, tofu, Tibet
U as in rule, you, Jerusalem (written as "oo")
V as in give, flavor, Venezuela
W as in we, wasabi, Wellington
X as in box, mixup, Lexington (written as "ks")
Y as in yard, teriyaki, Yemen
Z as in zone, puzzle, Zambia

Classical Vowels

The classical long vowels are those which correspond to the vowel sounds in Romance languages: for example, the first syllables of the Spanish words taco, bueno, pita, loco, mucho, or of the Japanese words kana, geta, miso, tofu, fugu. These are also called pure vowels because they are not mixed or diphthongal vowels.

Good transcriptions of the long vowels, in terms of the most recognizable way to pronounce the sounds reliably, are given above: A as "ah", E as "ey", I as "ee", O as "oh", and U as "oo". (Incidentally, in other systems, instead of the vowels just given, the "long vowels" are those sounds which the vowels make in their English names, and when accompanied by silent E; but this naming method is not used in the present article.)

Well, to all the ESL Students, or ESL teachers who happened to come across this, I hope you've found it both enjoyable and helpful. Pronunciation for ESL students is important to building comfort and confidence. Please feel free to drop by ESL Toronto Network and say hi to me, Mr. D.

Mr. D is the founder of ESL Toronto Network
Connecting ESL Students to ESL Schools,
ESL Teachers and ESL Tutors.

It's a Friendly and Fun Social Environment sort of like an ESL Facebook...

So Drop by Today...http://esltoronto.net

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