Okay Mike, maybe being gifted has a little part in learning languages. there are still more important factors that influence learning a language.
The Age mentioned above by some people. The earlier you learn a language, the better you learn it. The best example is our mother tongue; we hear this language from birth if not from the our mother's womb. Experience has shown that children can learn 2 or 3 languages from an early age. I think the scandinavian are more fortunate to learn Engish earlier than other European countries.
you wrote : " but others are simply incorrigable learners unable to comprehend that a word should be pronounced this or that way. "
I ask you if nobody correct the mistakes of these people, how do you want them to comprehend how a word should be pronounced ?
Pronunciation is important because it makes your first impression.
Many Enlglish learners ignore pronunciation. They can communicate in class, so they think they are good enough. They say "I don't need to study pronunciation. I just want to communicate in English."
They think that they communicate in English because they can communicate with their teacher and other students. You have to remember :
* Your teacher has been listenting to bad pronunciation for years. He or she can understand it much easier than the average person.
* Other students are usually from the same country as you. therefore, they speak English like you and they make the same mistakes. So it's easy for them to understand you.
The good news is that you can work on your pronunciation until you speak "understandable and pleasant English" (good pronunciation). You can learn the sounds of Engish, listen to recordings, watch English language television, etc. But first you have to realize there is a problem ! Most English learners don't.
I personally believe in a gift given by God. From my experience with English and people speaking the language I can tell you that some of them are unable to remeber that e.g. stress is put on the second syllable in say 'advertisement'. You can speak the word hunderds of time, they listen closely but when its heirrn*to say something they just make the same mistake over and over again. That's my experience and I don't really think it's the matter of practice. Well, perhaps after a thousand repeats they'd be able to pronounce a word correctly.
* their turn
there is such things as internal motivation and trust in your own abilities. In my opinion, these two things mean much more than being gifted. And then you should know that people are different, so if one approach does not work well for somebody, then it should be another way.
I agree with you deaptor.
Mike, I wouldn't hire you as a teatcher if I was in position to.
I am a British and American Accent trainer with MA (Linguistics). Based in Bangalore (India), I have experience of English and accent training in MNCs and call centers like Deltaworld and Dell. I would like to give some advice to accent learners who speak English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL).
First, decide the accent model. You can choose between Standard British Pronunciation (aka Received Pronunciation – RP) and General American (GA) Pronunciation, which are a few of the standard English pronunciations understood widely in most parts of the world. Your choice depends on your interaction with foreigners. For example, many South Asians will choose RP because of British Rule legacy. But if your business or profession involves (telephonic) interaction with Americans, GA Pronunciation will be useful. Modern English print and electronic media is largely dominated by American English, so learning American English and pronunciation can be an added advantage.
Here are a few guidelines for learning an accent:
1. Listen carefully: Watch BBC/CNN/Fox, etc. news channels to learn the formal English speech style. Star World serials can be used for learning colloquial/informal American English. Pay attention to the sound/pronunciation. Observe the mouth movements. Imitate them. Do not be discouraged by comments of the people around you. Watching movies can also help you a lot. Also, you can know the culture of native English speakers, which is an essential part of language learning these days.
2. Buy audio materials and books on pronunciation. Repeat after the instructor’s voice. Record your pronunciation and listen to it. You will discover many pronunciation mistakes that need to be improved. Also imitate the vocal quality of the target accent speakers.
3. Learn English Phonetics and Phonology: This will give you scientific understanding of the English pronunciation—sounds (production of consonants and vowels), sound clusters, weak forms, stress, intonation and rhythm.
4. Use (pronouncing) dictionaries: Learn to use dictionaries for learning correct pronunciation. Learn phonetic symbols.
5. Read aloud: This will strengthen your muscles for the accent. Generally it takes about three months of daily practice to develop strong mouth muscles for speaking with a new accent. Exaggerate your pronunciation so that even if you are tired your accent is not affected.
I wish this can be of some help to you. All the best!
Thanks for this good advice.
comment to kabam and to any other person interested on improving their pronunciation of a second language, complementing yogesh good advices:
learning the phonology of the language you are learning is really helpful to improve your pronunciation, but understanding the phonology of your first language as well, helps to improve it even more.
sometimes when you take a look at the pronunciation guide of a (good) dictionary, you might think you understood it well, but, because you don't understand your own natural pronunciation rules, you might not realise that in fact, you are still pronouncing things the same way you would do in your native language.
when you understand your first language better, you are able to compare its pronunciation rules with the rules of the second language, so you can understand your own mistakes, and correcting them, becomes a much easier task.
i'm not trying to preach, or badger anyone, i'm really just trying to help.
You don't sound at all like you were preaching. I'm always glad when someone give me some advice. The more I'm informed, the better. Thank you mee.
I find that many dictionaries' pronunciation guides are increasingly aimed at a small fraction of English speakers. For instance, I have encountered several American dictionaries that use the same symbol "a:" or "ah" for the vowel in "fAther" and "clOck". The dictionary's editors did not realise that most non-American speakers differentiate between "ah" and "o"- e.g. British speakers pronounce the short "o" sound in "clOck" with rounded lips instead of the open mouthed "ah".
Both the Random House Webster's College Dictionary and the Oxford Concise Dictionary (the standard edition, not the American one) have pronunciation keys that include and indicate both American and British pronunciations.
I sent you this link for Kabam and others who are interested :
ACCENT TUTOR ONLINE
AMERICAN ENGLISH SPEECH
LANGUAGE BASED DIRECTORY
These American English sounds are difficult for French speakers:
CH as in child, much
H as in hello
J as in jump, badge
N as in no, on
NG as in thing
R as in right, or
TH as in think, with
THH as in this, breathe
EE as in eat, see
I as in it, with
AY as in ate, say
EH as in edge, set
AE as in at, ran
A as in often, not
O as in over, note
OO as in book
U as in boot
UH as in up, but
UR as in early, her
AI as in I, nice
OW as in out, how
OY as in oil, boy
Improving your pronunciation is more important than learning more vocabulary.
I have difficulties to distinguish between the two "th".
I know the "th" in thin, thicket, thirty, mouth have the same pronunciation (like the Greek teta letter)
and this, mother, father, weather the same (like a D bar). But when I come across a new word (with th) or a word that I have not phonetically checked, I am unable to say which "th" it is.
Could you please help ?
Your Q. How to distinguish between the two "th" sound....
Answer: Most of the commonly used words in English have "voiced th" sound.
Examples: in "the, they, them, their, there, this, that, these, those, then, than."
In rest of the words, the sound is more likely to be "th" as in the pronunciation of the Greek letter "theta." So it is advisable to look up pronuncaitions in a dictionary.
Thank you Yogesh Bari
thank you for your explanation. That may help me to some extent, but as the French say "on n'est pas sorti d'auberge" with English language. I don't know how to translate into English. Something like : "there're still difficulties ".