Academic journal article K@ta

Priorities in English Pronunciation Teaching in EFL Classrooms

Academic journal article K@ta

Priorities in English Pronunciation Teaching in EFL Classrooms

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper reports the priorities in English pronunciation teaching in Indonesian EFL classrooms focusing on the English varieties, components of pronunciation, and techniques for pronunciation teaching. The results indicated that (1) international English was valued as a more appropriate variety for Indonesian learners, (2) and that while depending on a limited range of rather traditional techniques of pronunciation instruction, Indonesian EFL teachers valued segmental features more than suprasegmental features.

Key words: international English, pronunciation priorities, techniques for pronunciation teaching

In the two last decades there have been significant changes in the worldwide political, social, and commercial developments. These changes have partially influenced the status and roles of English which consequently need to be re-examined (Jenkins, 2000; McKay, 2002). The fact that English is regarded as the world's principal international language results in the increment of inter-speaker interaction: between native speakers and non-native speakers (NS-NNS) and between non-native speakers (NNS-NNS) (Jenkins, 2000; Walker, 2001).

The pedagogical implication of this situation is that there is a need to revise the goals of teaching English for ESL/EFL learners. In pronunciation teaching, the goal is neither to help learners to attain native-like accents nor to promote comfortable intelligibility to native speakers, but to ensure mutual intelligibility among non-native speakers of English (Jenkins, 2000; McKay, 2002). Therefore, in designing a pronunciation teaching model we should try to identify those phonological and phonetic features that will affect mutual intelligibility for EIL (English as an International Language) listeners and subsequently to revise pedagogic measures to facilitate the accurate production of these features by EIL speakers.

In the context of English language education in Indonesia, however, pronunciation has not received enough attention. As a result, there is no systematic clear guideline of pronunciation teaching although English is one of the important compulsory subjects at secondary schools. Many Indonesian teachers of English do not know what aspects of English pronunciation to teach and how to teach them. They are fundamentally not sure which English variety they should introduce to students in their classrooms because several English varieties (e.g., American English, British English, and Australian English) exist throughout Indonesia.

Numerous applied linguists assert that pronunciation teaching basically includes both segmental and suprasegmental features although they have set up the priorities differently. In the case of comfortable intelligibility, for example, pronunciation teaching covers the nature of speech sound (consonants and vowels), stress, rhythm, intonation, and connected speech (Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin, 1996; Dalton & Seidlhofer, 1994; Cruttenden, 2001; Jenner, 1989). Unlike these researchers, Jenkins (2000) pays more attention to interaction between nonnative speakers of English by formulating Lingua Franca Core (LFC)-which is crucial to intelligible pronunciation in EIL context-on the basis of her empirical research. Jenkins argues that the core features of pronunciation should be (1) consonant inventory with the provisos such as some substitutions of /θ/ and /ð/ and rhotic 'r'; (2) additional phonetic requirements such as aspiration of word-initial voiceless stops /p/, /t/, and /k/, and shortening of vowel sounds before fortis consonants and maintaining the length before lenis consonants; (3) consonants clusters with consideration of omission and addition; (4) vowel sounds; and (5) production and placement of nuclear stress. Jenkins is also concerned with certain holistic factors involved in the production of sounds because "problems in all these articulatory areas have the potential to lead to pronunciation errors at both segmental and suprasegmental levels, and thus to affect intelligibility" (p. …

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