Teahing Pronunciation


INTRODUCTION Celce-Murcia, Brinton and Goodwin (1996) consider that a learner’s command of suprasegmental features of a language are more critical to communicative competence than a command of segmental ones, since the suprasegmentals carry more overall meaning load than the segmentals do. They believe that learners who use incorrect rhythm patterns or who do not connect words together are at best frustrating to the native-speaking listener. Moreover, if these learners use improper intonation contours, they may be perceived as abrupt or even rude, and if the stress and rhythm patterns are too non-nativelike, the speakers who produce them may not be understood at all. Due to the influence of non-segmental features of the language over communication, two of them were chosen to be discussed in this essay: stress and intonation.

STRESS English is a stress-timed language. This means that syllables may last different amounts of time, but it is perceived to be a fairly constant amount of time, on average, between consecutive stressed syllables. Stress-timing is strongly related to vowel reduction processes. Spanish is a syllable-timed language, that is to say, every syllable is perceived as taking up roughly the same amount of time, though the absolute length of time depends on the prosody. Syllable-timed languages tend to give syllables approximately equal stress, and do not generally have reduced vowels. Stress most often occurs on any of the last three syllables of a word, with some rare exceptions at the fourth last or earlier syllables. Spanish speakers learning English usually transfer this stress regularity to English. They do not differentiate stressed from unstressed syllables in an English word because length, pitch and loudness -the main characteristics of stress- are a difficult matter for beginners. Therefore, in some cases, they do not use loudness or length to differentiate the stressed syllable or they do not reduce vowels in...