Intonation Problems In English

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PROBLEM 1: VOWEL UNDERDIFFERENTIATION [ʊ], [uː] A very common problem for Spanish speakers is the correct production of minimal pairs of vowels in English. This segmental problem is sometimes derived from the learners’ wrong perception of the sound due Spanish vowel [u]. In contrast, the Spanish vocalic system is significantly different from the English one. It is considered a negative transfer and might influence vowels production. The vowels underdifferentiation especially appears when differentiating between long and short vowels. The first cause is the [u] sound does not have different pronunciation in Spanish. As Mott (2005: 245) explains in the learning of foreign languages speakers “tend to transfer their own sound system and produce…show more content…
Sentence stress and intonation makes Spanish students of English are not well understood by English listeners. English is a stress-timed language and so Spanish speakers often transfer the syllable stress and intonation patterns of their mother tongue into English. If Spanish speakers stress the wrong syllable, and give unstressed syllables the same length as stressed ones, the identification of the word and ideas expressed will be difficult to understand for the listener. For that reason, the stress patterns are important parts for English…show more content…
English rhythm organises the sound of the language around the stressed syllables. Thus, the unstressed syllables are constricted in length so that they fit into the timing and rhythm of the sentence. Spanish has a syllable-timed rhythm which means that there is a tendency to syllabic isochrone. Kenworthy (1987:155) states that there are three intonation differences between Spanish and English: 1. Pitch range: Spanish speakers seem to use too narrow a pitch range. Where English speakers will start quite high and finish fairly low in their range, perhaps hitting extreme pitches within a phrase as well, Spanish speakers keep to a much more restricted pitch movement over a phrase or clause. 2. Final falling pitch range: The final falling pitch may not sound low enough. This may be due to the fact that Spanish speakers rarely use a slight rise before the final falling pitch, which makes the final pitch movement sound too “flat”. 3. The rise-fall seems difficult: This may be because the pitch-reversal itself is difficult for learners to do, specially on short phrases or one
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