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IC. No. : 910705-08-6506

2. Non-native speakers of English (NNS) often have problems with pronunciation.
Discuss the problem areas and suggests ways to overcome these problem identified.
Provide relevant examples to illustrate your answer.
Nowadays, English has been used widely in every country and obviously
English is an international language. Unfortunately, Non-Native Speakers of English
language may face some problems in their pronunciation while communicating with
others. First of all, non-native speakers can be defined as speakers who are not
using English as their first language and mother tongue while according to Oxford
Advance Learners 7
Edition, pronunciation is the way in which language or a
particular word or sound is pronounced. Correct pronunciation is important because
it can drive the meaning of our thought, and if our pronunciation is wrong,
miscommunication may happen due to the wrong interpretation by the other party.
However, non-native speakers of English still have many problems in pronunciation
such as not fluent, problems in pronouncing consonants and problems in
differentiating short and long vowel sounds.
The very first problem area for non-native speakers of English (NNS) in
pronunciation is they are not fluent in pronouncing every single word. Most of them
have studied grammar for many years, but still cannot speak English fluently, for
instance students from higher institution who have learnt English since primary
school still practicing broken English. The main factor of this problem is they have
studied the grammar, but they refuse to adapt in their daily life especially in
communicating with other people. They have the knowledge, but they neglected to
use while communicating and this environment somehow will affect their
pronunciation of English words. If they refuse to practise English since childhood,
they will face many problems in future especially in pronunciation even for simple
pronunciation such as the word bed. Actual vowel pronunciation for bed is e, but
most of non-native speakers pronounce bed as e. Therefore, environment is the
most important element that can influence non-native speakers pronunciation, if they
live in English environment, they will not have major problem in pronunciation.
Hence, there are some ways to prevent the problem above which is not
influent in pronouncing words. First, non-native speakers need to practise more on
pronunciation especially in front of mirror because this way can help them to train
their mouth to move in new ways in order to make new sounds. This way will
enhance their pronunciation even slowly, they can observe on their own how the
movement of mouth and tongue so that they can recognise and memorise how the
word pronounce. Thus, this method will help them to be more confident to speak
proper English in front of other people. Besides that, non-native speakers should
also refer to authentic dictionary every time they have doubt with pronunciation of
words as dictionary have provided phonetic symbol for every words.
Besides not fluent in pronunciation, non-native speakers may face some
problems regarding the pronunciation of consonants sounds. For example, Japanese
always experience this problem because of their mother tongue has influenced their
pronunciation thus produce difficulty in pronouncing some English words which
involve /r/ and /l/ (Yamada, Strange, Magnuson, Pruitt & Clark, 1994). This is
because they have lived in their own country (Japan) for long period of time and
communicate mostly with Japanese only who use Japanese language as a medium,
hence affect their pronunciation of /r/ and /l/ sound and make it difficult for them to
communicate with others using English language. Plus, Japanese language is the
official and national language in Japan, and for that, definitely they rarely use English
for communication even students in school have lack exposure of English.
A number of previous studies have examined the role of experience on adults
production and perception of second language sounds. There are some researchers
have been done on consonants and has suggested that learning process is a
possible way to improve the pronunciation of consonants by non-native speakers of
English. For example, the results of studies with native Japanese speakers of
English show that, over time, Japanese adults may learn to accurately pronounce
English /r/ and / l/, neither of which happens in Japanese (Yamada, Strange,
Magnuson, Pruitt & Clark, 1994; Flege, Takagi & Mann, 1995). Besides, English
language experience can improve Japanese pronunciation of English words
(Yamada & Tohkura, 1991; Best & Strange, 1992; Flege, Takagi & Mann, 1996). It
appears that the learning of consonants may take place over the course of years, or
perhaps even decades. Non-native speakers rate of learning, and perhaps their
ultimate degree of success, may be influenced by the perceived similarity of English
consonants to consonants in the first language. For example, Japanese could import
or hire some of native speakers who lived near to their country to teach them wisely
the proper pronunciation of English words. This should include school children so
that they can improve their pronunciation since childhood and pronounce English
words better in the future. Besides teaching them proper pronunciation, this method
could also enhance their communication skills with others especially with native
speakers using English as the medium. Hence, intensive learning process for non-
native speakers of English in Japan is important to help them improve their
pronunciation of consonants /r/ and /l/.
On the other hand, there is another problem to non-native speakers of English
which is the pronunciation of short and long vowel sounds are different from English.
The five vowels of Spanish /a e i o u/, exhibit less movement than do the closest
English vowels and are apparently not distinguished from one another by vowel
duration differences, as is the case for English vowels such as /i/-/>/ (Harris, 1969).
Not surprisingly, auditory evaluation suggests that Spanish /i/ is closer to English /i/
than />/ (Stockwell & Bowen, 1965). Because of the differences of vowel sounds
between English and Spanish, Spanish may have difficulty to communicate with
native speakers. For instance, when Spanish are having conversation with native
speakers, native speakers may have different interpretation of what Spanish are
talking about because of their short and long vowel sounds, for example, the words
beat and bit, Spanish may have problems to differentiate the pronunciation. If they
pronounce wrongly, native speakers will interpret with different meaning, thus
miscommunication will happen.
Therefore, for the previous problem mentioned above, there are some
suggested solutions that may help to abolish the matter. Basically, parents and
teachers should start to help non-native speakers avoiding the problems with long
and short vowel sound since school period because during childhood stage children
easier to learn and adapt something new in their lives rather than adulthood. By
engaging young kids in a variety of vowel activities, they learn to differentiate
between the long and short sounds of the vowels. Kids can recognise the different
sounds by sorting objects based on their vowel sounds. This kind of lessons will be
more attractive and interesting if several small toys or objects are included. The
names of the objects should contain different vowel sounds, either short, long or a
combination based on the teaching preferences. Next, teachers at school may use
some interesting activities such as chants and songs to incorporate repetitive
practice of vowel sounds. To chant the sounds, simply say "A says A" for the long
vowel sound. Fill in the short vowel sound to practice both long and short and to be
more effective, teachers should repeat the chant for all of the vowel sounds for many
times, so that students can easily understand and adapt the actual sounds. These
are two suggested ways for teachers and parents in order to help children who are
non-native speakers of English to differentiate the long and short vowel sounds so
that they may not have problems in pronunciation in the future.
Actually, it is not difficult for non-native speakers to excel in pronunciation, but
they need more effort and surplus support from everyone especially parents and
teachers. The effective way to avoid pronunciation problems is non-native speakers
should be teach and guided appropriately since childhood so that they can perform
well in pronunciation.


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Frost. S. (2010). Ideas To Teach Short and Long Vowel Sounds.
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Holt. S. (2008). Responding to Non-Native Speakers of English.
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The Sounds of English and The International Phonetic Alphabet.
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