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The sound of English

Phonetics’ role in pronunciation

Phonetics is a science that deals with the sounds of human speech. It is our way to communicate. The sounds of human speech are very complex and have been studied for centuries. Through the history of linguistics as a science, phonetics has always been an important part of studying a language.

Did you know that the first phonetic examinations occurred as long ago as 500 BC in ancient India? So if it makes you feel any better … people have been struggling with it for thousands and thousands of years.

Phonetic AlphabetScreen Shot 2017-02-16 at 15.26.43.png

The International Phonetic Alphabet is important because it allows everyone, not just linguistics, to learn the pronunciation of an utterance- no matter what language is used. The International Phonetic Alphabet has one symbol per sound. The complete Phonetic Alphabet table includes all the sounds for all known sounds in every language.

Every child should be taught in phonics, because then the child will recognize sounds in words and will be able to spell them correctly. Phonics reading is highly essential in every child’s education. It will be impossible for a person to spell any word correctly if the person is not able to recognize the sounds of the letters used in forming the words. A child, which is taught in phonics is able to recognize sounds in word and will be able to spell them correctly.

However, children do not necessarily have to be taught phonics at school in order to recognise the different sounds that make up words of a language. In fact, speech is something that is hard-wired in our brains from the moment we are born. There are areas of our brains dedicated to the understanding and production of sounds in speech such as Broca’s area located in the frontal lobe of the brain and the Wernicke’s area located in the dominant temporal lobe. It is for this reason that children learn speech naturally from their parents. Remember getting told off by your family when you were a toddler for saying a word wrong? It was all trial and error when you were a kid!Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 15.28.59.png

Since learning a new language requires students to reproduce sounds and patterns like a native speaker of that language, it is important that the teachers provide learners with instruction on the different sounds of the source language and explain these differences to the students. It will help them to understand and speak the language more accurately.

Pronunciation

The English language is often mispronounced by people from other countries who have a totally different language singsong or other vowel sound positions. They do not use the shape of their mouth in the same way or pronounce the vowels long or short or just say a different vowel than it is.

For example in many languages the sounds /θ/ and /ð/ do not exist and it is also difficult because there are two different sounds that correspond.

Three, thought, those, them, that, these, this, thirty, third, clothes

Many foreigners often replace the ‘th’ sound with [t, d, s, z, or f].

Also learners of English have problems with words like these: Feel/Fell/Fill, Luck/Look, Bought/Boat, Ice/Eyes; which all have different vowel sounds and these sounds have to be produced correctly in order for your speech to be more accurate.

Other words that English language learners get wrong are:

  • Jewelry = not JE-WE-LE-RY, better say TSCHU-LE-RY
  • Colour = CO-LOR not CO-LAR
  • Swordfish = you better say SORD-FISH than SWOERD-FISH
  • Wednesday = WENS-DAY
  • Business = it’s BEE-SNESS not BU-SI-NESS
  • Island = don’t say IS-LAND or ICE-LAND, say I-LAND

And these are just a few!! Mispronunciations happen because language learners tend to stick to the sound system employed in their first language because it comes so naturally to them; therefore, studying phonetics involves not only learning theoretical material but also undergoing training in the production and perception of speech sounds. If you want to sound more native then learning phonetics is one way to sound more natural in your second language BUT it requires work and patience – no one said it was going to be easy! You are after all learning a new sound system.

If you want to give it a go, then you can always try out our class on Wednesday afternoon (3:30pm – 5:30pm) dedicated to The Sounds of English.

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World Choice Education participates in Murcia’s “Entrepreneur Week”

Last week Murcia celebrated its “Entrepreneur Week”, it was organised by Murcia’s Council, “Murcia Conecta” and “Murcia Emplea” in collaboration with the Culture Department of “El Corte Inglés”. World Choice Education was one of 40 companies chosen to participate in this fair.

The “Entrepreneur Week” is celebrated with the intention to introduce young companies that have been working for less than three years or companies that are in the development process, established in County of Murcia.

The week consisted in personal spaces for the companies to expose their services, presentations of the participant entrepreneurs, talks, activities, raffles…

The fair started on 2nd of May and it lasted until the 6th of May. Each day was allocated a particular theme. On Monday 2nd of May the companies focused on professional services; on the 3rd of May, the tourism and leisure companies; on the 4th of May, audiovisual and photography companies; On Thursday, fashion companies; and on Friday 6th, the children companies.

World Choice Education participated in the fair on the 2nd of May as a professional services company. WCE, has been established in Murcia since 2015, is a consulting agency on educational services, which provides solutions and support in order to plan your stay in another country on a free-of-charge basis. It helps you in all fields of study no matter what your age or level: General English Course, Specialised Courses and Exam Preparations, English Junior Programs, Immersions in the British educational system for those aged 10 and above up to University studies. One of the specialities is the Work Experience Program, with high-quality internships, volunteering programs and paid hospitality programs.

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