Some Issues in Teaching English Pronunciation in Palestinian Schools

Topics: English language, Vowel, Phonology Pages: 11 (3870 words) Published: October 7, 2008
English language is one of the international languages in all over the world. ِAs any language, it has four main aspects should be learnt in order to has a perfect one. One of these aspects is speaking in which pronunciation constitutes fundamental element that should be known. For this, pronunciation takes an important part in teaching English. As a teacher of a foreign language, there are some challenges may have through teaching this essential part of language. However, Is it really teach as an important aspect in Arab school or it tends to be neglected? In both cases, why? What are these issues which teachers face? Why are they arising? Are there specified difficulties occur in Palestinian schools? If there are what are they? And why are they specified? Are there solutions or techniques for these difficulties? What are these? And how teachers can apply them in teaching if they can? This is what the paper attempts to discuss in depth.
The primary issue which pronunciation suffers from in most of Arab schools, especially in Palestinian ones, is the negligence. Most of English teachers attempt to neglect any activities of pronunciation found in the curriculum. And if it can not be neglected, they deal with it reactively; only when problem arise in the classroom (Kelly 2000:13). The fact that pronunciation suffers from neglect is due to several reasons. The first one is that many teachers think that teaching pronunciation in early stage is not important at all. This point is denoted by Krashen and Terrell (1983 in Stern 1992:113). They hold the view that pronunciation should not be taught in the early stages because –as many teachers believed- wrong pronunciation habits can be changed later. Teachers who fall in with this view rely on the ability of learners to assimilate and correct their pronunciation later without specific instruction. Moreover, there is some teachers play down teaching pronunciation because it may impede the learning of grammar and vocabulary. Their argument is based on that when teachers concentrate on the accuracy of pronunciation during the lesson, they may disregard grammatical and lexical mistakes the students may make. In addition to the previous reasons for neglected teaching pronunciation, those teachers tend to make grammar and vocabulary their first concern and arrange them as primary stage in their planning lesson (Kelly 2000:13). That is what may happen in most of Palestinian schools. When it comes to planning a lesson, teachers tends to make grammar their first concern followed by lexicon. Kelley, again, refers the reason to the course books that incline to teaching grammar and vocabulary more than pronunciation. But the problem in Palestinian schools may be, also, because they are used to teaching those parts of language rather than pronunciation. From their beginning as teachers, they found that teaching grammar and vocabulary is more effortless than teaching pronunciation due to its activities and techniques. For them, grammar and vocabulary have rules they can follow in teaching and make students learn them while pronunciation has not like these rules.

Against these views, teaching pronunciation in early stage is very essential part in teaching English language. Allen and Valette (1977:56 in Stern 1993:113) prove that in their quotation:

It seems more convincing that teach correct pronunciation in early level get the students to draw attention on their enunciation and make them avoiding and reducing mistakes in future. As regards to the second claim that it hinders teaching grammar and vocabulary, pronunciation connects with other aspects of language (Wong 1993). Concerning this connection, Stern (1993:114) explains that there are three considerations how it relates to grammar and lexicon; linguistic, communicative, and affective. To illustrate, he mentions the following example from Gilbert (1984:21): (1) count counted

(2) mouse mouth...

References: Amer, Walid (2006) Issues in Comparative Linguistics. 2nd ed. Gaza: Sultan Company.
Dalton, David F
TESL Journal. 3/1. Available: <>, [accessed 25th
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Kelly, Gerald (2000) How to Teach Pronunciation. London: Longman
McLaughlin, Sky (2003) Strategies for Teaching English: A Guide to Vocabulary,
Grammar, and Pronunciation Teaching
Riddell, David (2003) Teaching English as a Foreign/ Second Language. London:
Hodder Headline
Roach, Peter (2000) English Phonetics and Phonology: A Self-contained, Comprehensive
Pronunciation Course
Stern, H. H. (1992) Issues and Options in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford
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Wong, Rita (1993)
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