Interview with Sebastián... | Learning English Through Phonetics! | What's Up!

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Interview with Sebastián… | Learning English Through Phonetics!

Interview with Sebastián...

Hello Sebastián, tell us a little about yourself.

Can you tell us about your process of learning phonetics?

The first time I had to learn more about phonetics and phonology I felt total panic, but in time it got better and better up to the point that I fell in love with it! I do believe that using phonetics and phonology is KEY to significantly improve our pronunciation. It can seem a bit difficult, but anything new is! The effort definitely pays off.

Why is it so important for a student of English to learn phonetics?   

It is important because one becomes aware that the English and our sound system are significantly different. There are various reasons why, but it would take me long to explain! English has undergone many types of changes during its history and this is the result of such changes.

I think that among the strongest reasons we could highlight that English spelling does not generally match its pronunciation, that the number of vowels in English differs widely from that of Spanish and Catalan and that their prosodies work in a totally different way. Not only does English have a wider number of vowels, but also long and short ones! In some cases, this difference is crucially important, as meaning can be affected.

Learning more about the pronunciation of English will definitely help you!  It did help me!

Where can we find more information about phonetic symbols?

The best way to learn the phonetic symbols for our students is to go to Speak Easy Classes where different sounds are taught every week. It is great that a language school offers classes in pronunciation, as not many do. This is something What’s Up! must be proud of.

However, if you think that going to class is not enough, there are several resources online which can be of great help. Surf the internet and visit different websites, you will find a wide number of resources to work independently on your pronunciation.

Do I have to choose a particular accent?

From my point of view, I believe that accent is not the key for communication. A good accent, without the right specific sounds, word stress, and prosody is not communicative. I understand that today, many people want to have an accent, but before pursuing this, I believe that there are other acoustic features one must learn first. Ganar Dinero con tu Opinión en Encuestas Pagadas 【octubre 2022 】

Never forget that your aim is for your message to be clearly understood. If you have to force an accent, your speech might become slower and more fragmented. With this, I do not mean that getting an accent is bad, but it should not be the learner’s first priority. Once you feel more confident in your speech, you can step up and go learn more about the accent you really like!

Are the symbols enough to improve our pronunciation?

Knowing the symbols will be of great help, but it might not be enough. The same way words in a sentence affect their meaning, the same happens with sounds. Every sound in an utterance affects the other one, what is known as Connected Speech. This is where practice comes in. The learner must be aware of the fact that pronunciation is not a set of isolated sounds or words; pronunciation is more about combining together those sounds and words with the right word stress, and with the right prosody. Plus being aware of what sort of influence our mother tongue has on our English will be extremely helpful as well.

Do you have some tips for our students?

  • Learn to listen to detail! If you can identify something somebody says, it will be much easier for you to produce it!

 

  • Place and Manner. Notice how your mouth and lips move. Notice where you place your tongue while producing a specific sound! Notice how you use air to produce the sounds.

 

  • Break down speech to smaller units. Separate a word by sounds, or syllables by highlighting the stress.

 

  • Record yourself. You could work on the same texts for a while and track your progress!

 

  • Be careful with ‘r’ and ‘h’, the first is very different in English (place your tongue at the back without touching the top), and the second one, well it’s definitely not (Jelou, jau are you?).

 

  • Try to practice the neuter vowel, schwa. ə  This is the most common vowel sound in English. You can find it in so many different spellings!

 

  • Practice and don’t let any of it put you off! If I could, so can you! 🙂

Thank you so much for reading this! I hope that learning more about the Pronunciation of English can help you as much as it has helped me as a non-native speaker of English! 

Thank you very much Sebastián! 

 

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