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kamukamuume
March 1st, 2010, 13:13
when you're asked to pronounce a word, do you overenunciate? for example, with "entertainment," I generally say it slowly and clearly, but don't enunciate the first "t," as I never use it in real conversation. another example would be the glottal stop in "button."

for both of these, I try to clearly say the English how it's used in everyday conversations, but when the teachers repeat with the kids, they tend to overenunciate, which gives me the feeling they regard my way as a bit informal/sloppy.

another thing is the "o" in words like "collect" and "possible." kids and teachers tend to say a long "o," which is considerably different from at least the american pronunciation.

when they ask how to say a word, I'm unsure of whether I should say the natural pronunciation (i.e. possible with an 'ah' sound) or say something closer to theirs, as I'm sure that Japanese kids' understanding of phonemes is pretty limited. they probably can't hear the "a" in "apple" all that well, so they tend to use the "ah" from "avocado" instead. in turn, all their vowel sounds shift over a notch to compensate for it.

just wanna hear your attitudes about this. what has worked, what hasn't, and how do you bring this up with JTEs who seem to be counterproductive in some cases? seems like a touchy subject, but an important one.

vertigo_stick
March 1st, 2010, 18:08
I just say things how I want to.

And unlike my JTEs I won't add -u to the end of words to help the kids understand the word better (i.e. pronouncing 'want' and 'wo-n-tu')

The worst was when I was asking a bunch of 3rd years "What's your favorite animal?" and no one understood "animal" pronounced naturally so I kept saying it, even over-enunciating but keeping natural pronunciation of vowels and consonants, and then the fuckin JTE says "ah-nee-ma-ru" and the kids don't learn a goddamn thing YAY.

I wouldn't worry too much about your own pronunciation though, unless you go in and are like "Yo, we gots some Engrish today bitches. U rdy?"

But I don't think it's our job to talk like we're fuckin Ken from Eigo Note.

word
March 1st, 2010, 19:08
I tend to over-enunciate. My thinking is that I want them to learn to speak as clearly as possible. There are zillions of weird English dialects, and I don't want to inflict them with mine. I try to stick with either Standard North American or the sort of slightly British dialect that New Crown uses. Since I don't know what sort of English dialects these kids might be exposed to in the future, I want to teach them as clear and distinct a form as possible. Unless they end up in Kentucky or Ireland, they ought to be able to understand just about anyone who makes an effort to speak clearly, and most folks should (hopefully) be able to understand them.

I would consider a glottal stop in the word "button" and leaving off the first "t" in "entertainment" to be a form of substandard English. Please understand, I'm not being insulting; my own dialect is one of the most substandard English dialects in existence (I'm from the southern US). It takes concentration to speak without it, and I still catch myself every now and then. The kids deserve my effort, though.

Sometimes I do weird dialects to spice things up. It amuses the kids, and it's an interesting way to see just how well they can pick up different manners of speech.

FiercestCalm
March 1st, 2010, 19:21
I don't have much to add to this discussion apart from the fact that I try and over-enunciate some words (like watermelon - I try and say it like it's spelled instead of how I say it naturally, which is waddermelon).

For another question - I try and discourage students from associating English words with similar sounding Japanese words. For example, my 2nd graders say "anko" for "uncle" and my 5th graders (some bad ones, given) say "jyagabee" for "germany." I know the pronunciation is different, but for some (like anko and uncle) it's very close. Should I encourage such homonyms to help the students learn vocabulary, or be stricter on pronunciation?

word
March 1st, 2010, 19:32
LOL @ watermelon. Upon saying the word shortly after I'd arrived here, my kocho-sensei (who barely speaks any English) laughed at my pronunciation of that word and then told me to try not to speak so badly in front of the children. He imitated the way I said it and I realized he was correct--I sounded like an idiot. So, yeah, I over-enunciate.

The homonyms thing--I don't mind the association (I've used 'em to help me learn Japanese), but I stick with 'em on the proper pronunciation.

kamukamuume
March 1st, 2010, 20:41
I understand where you guys are coming from. honestly, that's exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping we could all have.

I know it's difficult for the kids to pick up on something like "waddermelon," but it seems to me like that's correct English. to me, it's a different distinction from, say, the difference between "I don't know" and "I dunno": in the watermelon case, there really is no situation where people ever way waw-ter-mel-in. even if, for example, you were giving a super formal speech in front of your city mayor back home, for example, how would you say these words? that, to me, is a good indication of whether we're talking about sloppy pronunciation or something else that's going on. notably, valid phonetic features of modern English.

that said, if there really is a huge difference between the JTE's pronunciation and mine, it's probably a good idea for me to compromise a bit, just so the kids can keep moving forward.

a bit of a separate question now: what if they said "waw-ter-mel-ohn"? would you correct it? the reason I initially asked is that I have kids who come to read passages to me, and in every situation like that, they use a long "o," yet when they puzzle over a word and ask for help, I generally don't use it. I mean, say the word to yourself and tell me it sounds like real English. what would you do there?

word
March 1st, 2010, 21:09
I do think that exposure to other dialects is important for the kids, and I suspect that may be among the reasons why we're here (a small reason, to be sure, but...). I'll sometimes read a new word in several different dialects so that the students can hear the word said in different ways. "In the Southern United States, this word would be said like this... In Britain, it would sound like this..." and so on. If we have time, anyway, or if it's a word that is pronounced very differently in different places ("schedule," for example, or "either"). I try to let the kids know that different dialects are okay, but... I do tend to lampoon my own accent, because it's often lampooned in the US. Also, studies like this one (http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-146789155/effect-accent-and-dialect.html) tend to motivate me to avoid teaching my students a "less desirable" dialect.

About your separate question: I'd say it would largely depend on the student. For an advanced student, I might correct their pronunciation, or even demonstrate a "fluent" way of saying the word or phrase. For a less advanced student, I'd be happy that they were making the attempt, and I'd be nothing but encouraging.

atheistwithfaith
March 2nd, 2010, 06:16
From a British perspective, not enunciating the first t in entertainment sounds VERY American.

vertigo_stick
March 2nd, 2010, 09:02
I guess I just don't overthink it that much, word. My goal with pronunciation is to lessen the harsher aspects of the Japanese accent on their English and learn how to make themselves understandable. I try to do vowel drills when I get a chance to drive home the point that there are more vowels in English than in Japanese.

I wouldn't correct a student for saying 'watermelon' with a T but I might for saying 'watermelOHn' with the long o, but only if it was a one-on-one situation and we were preparing for their speech contest entry "I grew a watermelon this summer." Otherwise, I don't think the word watermelon is important enough to fuss over.

I'm much more concerned with them being able to understand and properly pronounce words like 'salad' and 'color' without the cruddy katakana sound than whether they should pronounce 'often' with a t or without (for my part, I'm not personally consistent with this, so in class I try to keep the t and keep it consistent.)

Also Thursday. My dream is that we can all stop saying SARSday one day.

jandek
March 2nd, 2010, 09:05
But I don't think it's our job to talk like we're fuckin Ken from Eigo Note.

what the fuck, Ken has excellent diction.

it's that slack-jawed Mai that is always ordering pasta wrong and ruining it for everyone.

word
March 2nd, 2010, 11:46
I guess I just don't overthink it that much, word. My goal with pronunciation is to lessen the harsher aspects of the Japanese accent on their English and learn how to make themselves understandable. I try to do vowel drills when I get a chance to drive home the point that there are more vowels in English than in Japanese.

I wouldn't correct a student for saying 'watermelon' with a T but I might for saying 'watermelOHn' with the long o, but only if it was a one-on-one situation and we were preparing for their speech contest entry "I grew a watermelon this summer." Otherwise, I don't think the word watermelon is important enough to fuss over.

I'm much more concerned with them being able to understand and properly pronounce words like 'salad' and 'color' without the cruddy katakana sound than whether they should pronounce 'often' with a t or without (for my part, I'm not personally consistent with this, so in class I try to keep the t and keep it consistent.)

Also Thursday. My dream is that we can all stop saying SARSday one day.I'm overthinking it, eh? Hehehe I dunno, I take all this pretty seriously.

I should hope you wouldn't "correct" a student for pronouncing "watermelon" with a "t," since that is most certainly the correct way of pronouncing it, although perhaps not the most common way it is pronounced in some parts of the United States (where I'm from, for example)!

Often! My god, LOSE THE "T!" It's not supposed to be there. It is a sub-standard warping of the word that has become so widely used that it has become accepted as a secondary pronunciation in many dictionaries. Eh, it probably doesn't matter, to be honest, but it's one of my pet peeves. You wouldn't say "soften" with a "t" phonetic, would you?

I agree with you about the katakana speech, but it's difficult to break junior-high level kids of this (not that I don't try). I work phonetics pretty intensely with my elementary students, though, in the hopes that they'll be a bit better off when they hit the standard English curriculum in junior high.

vertigo_stick
March 2nd, 2010, 11:56
I should hope you wouldn't "correct" a student for pronouncing "watermelon" with a "t," since that is most certainly the correct way of pronouncing it, although perhaps not the most common way it is pronounced in some parts of the United States (where I'm from, for example)!

Often! My god, LOSE THE "T!" It's not supposed to be there. It is a sub-standard warping of the word that has become so widely used that it has become accepted as a secondary pronunciation in many dictionaries. Eh, it probably doesn't matter, to be honest, but it's one of my pet peeves. You wouldn't say "soften" with a "t" phonetic, would you?

I didn't finish my thought properly, but yeah, what I wanted to say was that I wouldn't correct a student out of saying a t in watermelon because it is a standard pronunciation.

I am a linguistics minor who is for descriptive over prescriptive linguistics and language teaching, so I guess you could say that informs my tendencies quite a bit. The problem is the textbook can be really mixed about this stuff. The kids learn how to say 'Can I do this?' before learning 'May I do this?' even though the former resulted in me getting corrected by my mother time after time as a child. (and lest we forget the comeback, 'I don't know CAN you?') Yet at the same time, kids learn that they ABSOLUTELY MUST say 'the' when they want to say 'I play the guitar.' even though 'I play guitar.' is used by hundreds of people all the time every day.

I think the reason I switched to saying 'often' with a t was because the JTE complained when I said 'offen' and since the dictionary has both as acceptable pronunciations. Also, really, it's easier for the kids to remember the spelling of enunciated words.

Haha of course I wouldn't say 'sofTen.' I have heard people say that before though, haha! Sounds stupid.

apron used to be napron. Perhaps we should be upset about the degraded pronunciation in use now, but language is an evolving thing and I for one want to be on the forefront of the evolution, not trying to sound like I an 18th century schoolmarm.

word
March 2nd, 2010, 13:19
I didn't finish my thought properly, but yeah, what I wanted to say was that I wouldn't correct a student out of saying a t in watermelon because it is a standard pronunciation.

I am a linguistics minor who is for descriptive over prescriptive linguistics and language teaching, so I guess you could say that informs my tendencies quite a bit. The problem is the textbook can be really mixed about this stuff. The kids learn how to say 'Can I do this?' before learning 'May I do this?' even though the former resulted in me getting corrected by my mother time after time as a child. (and lest we forget the comeback, 'I don't know CAN you?') Yet at the same time, kids learn that they ABSOLUTELY MUST say 'the' when they want to say 'I play the guitar.' even though 'I play guitar.' is used by hundreds of people all the time every day.

I think the reason I switched to saying 'often' with a t was because the JTE complained when I said 'offen' and since the dictionary has both as acceptable pronunciations. Also, really, it's easier for the kids to remember the spelling of enunciated words.

Haha of course I wouldn't say 'sofTen.' I have heard people say that before though, haha! Sounds stupid.

apron used to be napron. Perhaps we should be upset about the degraded pronunciation in use now, but language is an evolving thing and I for one want to be on the forefront of the evolution, not trying to sound like I an 18th century schoolmarm.LOL God forbid I should get a JTE who wanted me to pronounce the "t" phonetic in "often." I dunno what I'd do.

But, yeah, you're right about the mixed up textbook. Some of the stuff in there is just crazy. I try to use "may I" around the children (and JTEs) when the opportunity presents itself, if only for the hope that they'll at least understand it if they hear it.

And LOL at "18th-century schoolmarm." I probably am an 18th-century schoolmarm, deep down. On the other hand, I use "ain't" on occasion, and "y'all" on a daily basis (I try to never use these around my students, though), so who knows, there may be hope for me yet.

HareBlare
March 4th, 2010, 06:16
This is probably where I fall down. My west country accent confuses anyone who isn't English...

Wakatta
March 4th, 2010, 11:13
I'm all for breaking words down and saying them slowly, with unnaturally-precise pronunciation, in order to teach them the sounds of the letters and develop their skill with English phonemes. That said, I'm also for throwing in a "natural" reading and having them do that, too.

It's not like Japanese is any different. Saying で・す with both syllables clearly spoken makes you sound like a ditz, but I see nothing wrong with practicing "で ... す. で ... す. 自然的には、[でss]。 Or think about the many flavors of the が row. You can certainly go み・ぎ, but most people put an "n" sound in there, to varying degrees based on their accent. (see also the difference between 戦後  and 1005 -- some people treat them as homophones and some don't.)

The danger of giving in to, say, a principal correcting your pronunciation of watermelon is that even if they have a point, there's a very real danger that they will write you off as a stupid foreigner who does not know English nearly as well as the mighty Japanese. I found that I had to guard my credibility far more carefully than I'd ever bother in the US; if "corrected" in such a way, I'd try to at least explain the distinction, and if possible, point to a parallel in Japanese.

Of course, there's a danger on the opposite side of cutting them down unfairly and either discouraging them or making them dislike you. It's really quite a balancing act.

kamukamuume
March 4th, 2010, 12:50
+1 to Wakatta. I agree with everything you said. I liked your point about considering vocabulary to be a chance to practice English phonemes and not just a one-off word that isn't taught correctly.

As for the being corrected by your principal thing, it's very hard. Believe it or not, this kind of thing happens to me quite often (with JTEs, mind you, not necessarily principals). I choose my battles; I've learned to let a lot of things go by reassuring myself that 1. the word/grammar in question is obscure and not that important; and 2. scaring the JTE into using more Japanese/harming our working relationship won't benefit anyone.

Of course, if I'm back in stage 2 of culture schock or just having a rough day, I may convince myself to do more correcting than otherwise.

I find it's usually best to wait until you can avoid being excessive and point out something important when you catch it. But I always have to prep my nerves for the JTE sucking their teeth and informing me that they'll veto my "native intuition" (they say it as though it has quotation marks, too) if it's not in the book.

JackAttack
March 4th, 2010, 13:34
My two cents...

I usually over-enunciate words, especially new ones that have non-existent Japanese sounds. (Such as YEAR vs. EAR... that really threw my kids off.) If I have enough time to work with them, usually during recitation practice months, I slowly get them to repeat the word more naturally. I do this because from my experience of learning and 2nd language, it was easier for me to learn sounds by over-enunciating and it helped to learn the pronunciation. It also helps because when I over-enunciate, the point where the word is stressed comes out so students can mark it down as they're listening and not have to ask later.

My JTEs are pretty good about not correcting me. When I tell them how I say a word or that in American English it's one way and not another, they're ok with how I say it and trust me with teaching the students my way.