This paper is an evaluation of which strategies I have employed to improve my English pronunciation have worked in helping me achieve my goals, and analyze why they have been effective towards such ends.
On Sunday February 25th, 2007, I used the following strategies:
a.) I will first listen to the audio book, American English Pronunciation Program by Barbara Raifsnider (New York: Living Language, A Random House Company, 1999) for 10 minutes.
– This has been very effective in strengthening my phonemic awareness of the target language, which is English, and differentiate it from the phonemic structure of my native language. Phonemic awareness leads to accuracy of sound production.
b.) I will go through the two pages I will read and will write down any words that I think will be difficult for me to pronounce, so I can study and practice them individually.
– This strategy reinforces my phonemic awareness because it allows me to recognize which words I have problems with. Being able to anticipate problems and correct myself is very important to help me achieve my goals.
c.) I will record myself when reading aloud the 2 pages about Jefferson.
– This is a feedback mechanism wherein I listen to myself and check which words I am good at and the ones I still have problems with.
On Sunday March 4th, 2007, I used the following strategies:
a.) I will first make copies of chapter one of Shiloh.
– This is preparatory to the actual strategy and has no direct bearing on my goals.
b.) I will have my husband read aloud chapter one of Shiloh, while I will follow the story with my copies.
– This is similar to listening to an audio book, expect that it is a live person doing the actual reading. Actual reading is more ideal than listening to tapes because you can hear slight nuances in the speech that may not have been captured by the recording.
c.) I will highlight those words that may be challenging for me to pronounce with correct American English pronunciation.
– This is effective because it strengthens my sound awareness enough to be able to
predict the sounds that I may have difficulties with.
d.) I will record myself when reading aloud chapter one of Shiloh.
– Enables me to listen and evaluate myself.
e.) I will read chapter one of Shiloh to my 8 year old neighbor, and then I will ask him what does he thinks about the story.
– This is an important step because it allows me to check is my pronunciation is good enough that listeners can understand what I am saying without any confusion.
On Friday March 9th, 2007, I used the following strategies:
a.) I will first record myself when reading aloud the book I am Sharing.
– Again, recording and listening to myself is very effective because it enables me to make corrective feedback.
b.) I will have my sister in law listen to the recording.
c.) I will read aloud the book I am Sharing to 8 children between the ages of 3 and 4, at my sister in law’s day care center.
– Having someone else evaluate my speech is a good strategy because other people may be able to detect sound errors that I might have overlooked because of saturation. This also allows me to check for my listeners’ reaction, if they have problems understanding some words that I am saying.
On Thursday March 15th , 2007, I used the following strategies:
a.) I will first record myself when reading aloud chapter 14 of Shiloh.
– Self-awareness or metacognition is very important for me to be able to produce the proper sounds.
b.) I will have my husband listen to my recording.
c.) I will read aloud chapter 14 of Shiloh to my 18 students and my cooperative teacher.
– How my speech is perceived by others is the ultimate test of my speech. If my words are clear and properly pronounced, then my listeners will be able to understand me without any confusion and loss of meaning. Ultimately, my goal to improve my communication is to be able to say what I want without anything being lost in translation.
Improving one’s pronunciation in a new language can be frustrating, especially in the beginning when you have been so used so another language. However, as with any new skill, one’s success depends on your resolve to succeed. In such cases, it is a big help to have a support system and inspiration who will help you overcome the plateaus and be your source of strength as you continue on your journey.
In my case, I was more inspired to improve my pronunciation when I realized how important it is to read aloud to my students using correct American English pronunciation. (Gunning, 2004, p. 212) Young students may be confused by my speech, especially if they are still establishing their phonemic awareness, and thus, may hinder the development of their literacy skills.
As a teacher, I cannot allow this to happen. I have the duty to teach and not get in the way of the learning process of my students. While this does not mean that I will be ashamed of my heritage; all I want is to be able to say the English words properly in such a way that will not baffle or confuse my students. This thought was the most crucial factor in motivating me to keep working at my goals.
Gunning’s book has been an eye-opener because I realized the importance of being able to recognize the differences in the consonant sounds of Spanish and English, and make the distinction between the two of them. This has allowed me to design a strategy that will allow me to heighten my phonemic awareness of English sounds and be able to consciously reproduce them.
It also helped that I have the support of my cooperative teacher who is always there to remind me whenever I feel discouraged.
Gunning, T. (2004). Creating Literacy Instruction for all Students. Allyn & Bacon. Chapter
4, p. 212.