Phonetics In English Language

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In Bhutan, while English comes second to Dzongkha, it has been a language of priority since the 1980s. English has been the medium of instruction for almost 90% of the subjects taught in schools. Nevertheless, due to the influence of Bhutanese mother tongue, Bhutanese speakers struggle to pronounce English words such as native speakers do. For learners of English as second Language, phonetics becomes a means of learning correct pronunciation in order to communicate effectively. However, English curriculum prescribes teaching of sound only in lower primary classes. Since phonetics is taught in lower primary classes and not supplemented, pronunciation of words becomes a challenging task for learners of higher classes. As a result progressiveness…show more content…
Most of the students spell the word to pronounce the word correctly when they encounter a new word. Since they have limited knowledge on sounds they fail to pronounce the word correctly. Instead if the students are taught with the sound of the letters, they would combine the sounds and would not have any difficulties in pronunciation. As the result of wrong pronunciation, students reading ability is hampered and subsequently the meaning of the text is lost. Furthermore their interest in reading is minimized as they cannot get the essence of what the text is saying. As the consequences, the students’ participation in English literary activities is the minimum. Teacher has to force the students to participate. One of the reasons for this limitation is, there are not many teachers who are well trained in the teaching of English phonetics in specific. This drawback has huge impact on reading and speaking ability of the students. Moreover the failure rate in class four underscores the reading ability of the upper primary students. According to Bhutan Annual Education Statistics, 2011, (as cited in Wangmo, 2017), “In 2010, of the 16,363 students enrolled in Grade Four there were 1,347 repeaters and 460 who dropped out of school.” According to her research the failure is because of the lack of phonological awareness which is directly related to the…show more content…
There should be continuity of what is being taught in lower primary classes in the upper classes too. Instead of adopting spelling-based teaching strategy to teach words, teachers can ask the students to say the sound associated with each letter in a word and combine them. In this way the sounds learned in earlier classes will be reinforced and most of the words will be pronounced correctly. The statement of Kushwah that “phonics teaches children to associate letters with sounds” (2008, p.31) highlights the importance of teaching letters and sounds simultaneously rather than in isolation. Teaching strategy such as this will not only make students aware of the sounds associated with each letters but also assist them to connect the two. In order to be in a position to do that the language teachers must be trained explicitly in phonetics to deliver it to the students. Further the students’ knowledge on phonetics should not be limited to the delivery of the language teacher. They should be exposed to the native speakers through listening activities of small narration by natives to check their progress. Rose (as quoted in Bald, 2017) recommends that “phonics lessons should be ‘discrete’ means that teaching needs to be specific and systematic, but not that phonics should be taught in isolation from everything else,”
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