The improvement of students´ pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in 9th grade

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(1)School of Humanities Department of Foreign Languages. Title: The improvement of students´ pronunciation within the teaching -learning process of English in 9thgrade Major Paper Author: José Luis Jomolca Zamora. Adviser: Matilde L. Patterson Peña, MA Full Professor. Academic Year 2014-2015.

(2)  To my parents and girlfriend, for all their constant love and concern.  To all my friends, for all their help in every difficult moment.  A special acknowledgement to my adviser Matilde Patterson Peña, for all her constant love and help.  To my mentor of English at José Marti Secondary School and to all the teachers of the Foreign Languages Department, who have taught me all these years.  Last but not least, to Eida de la Paz for believing in me and helping me to find the way to get to where I am..

(3) This paper presents a system of activities for the improvement of students´ pronunciation within the teaching-learning process of English in 9thgrade. A theoretical and methodological background on the topic of pronunciation of some sounds is provided including the most important concepts related to our area of research. Several methods were used to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses regarding the pronunciation of some sounds in E nglish. The results revealed that students had some difficulties in the pronunciation of some final sounds and some sounds that do not exist in Spanish. Accordingly, a system of activities was designed to meet their needs and to help them improve their pronunciation in English. The activities were mainly directed for the controlled practice stage since the main objective of the proposal is directed to accuracy..

(4) Cet article présente un système d'activités pour l'amélioration de la prononciation des étudiants dans le processus d'enseignement -apprentissage de l'anglais en 9ne année. Un fond théorique et méthodologique sur le thème de la prononciation de certains sons est fourni, et compris les concepts plus importants liés à notre domaine de recherche. Plusieurs méthodes ont été utilisées pour évaluer les forces et les faiblesses des élèves en ce qui concerne la prononciation de certains sons en anglais. Les résultats ont révélé que les élèves ont eu quelque s difficultés dans la prononciation de certains sons finales et des sons qui n’existent pas en espagnol. En conséquence, un système d'activités a été conçu pour répondre à leurs besoins et leur aider à améliorer leur prononciation en anglais. Les activités ont été principalement orientées pour l'étape de la pratique puisque l'objectif principal de la proposition est dirigé à la précision..

(5) Index Introduction Main Part I. Theoretical and methodological judgments back up the improvement of pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in 9th grade in Junior High School 1.1. Historical background of the teaching- learning process of English in Cuba 1.2. The Communicative language teaching approach 1.3 The speaking skill 1.4 Teaching Pronunciation II. Needs´ assessment related students’ pronunciation 2.1 Regularities of the assessment III. The system of activities to improve students ´pronunciation 3.1 Characterization of the proposal 3.2 The proposal of the system of activities 3.3 The partial implementation of the proposal 3.4 Specialist criteria about the system of activity IV. Conclusions V. Suggestions VI. Bibliography VII. Annexes.

(6) Introduction As Fidel Castro Ruz expressed in 2002, “the overall goal of Cuban educ ation is to seek for a general education…”, and then he added “… we will be the best-educated people in the world by a broad margin and in a short period of time…” (Castro Ruz , 2002:11). Consequently, enrichment in the development of education and culture has been taking place all over the country. Thus, the teaching of English should contribute to the students’ communication efficiency and to satisfy the necessity of widening their knowledge as well. This means to develop knowledge and abilities in the students so that they can communicate in this foreign language, get more information and express themselves about topics related to their lives. Following these new precepts and ambitions, the Junior High School enter upon a new phase which adds to the perfection of the general, all round education as a consequence of the myriad of changes adopted within the scope of the educational policy. The current trends to Foreign Language Teaching (FLT) make special emphasis on the importance of the student-teacher interaction, and the active participation of the students that impose new demands from teachers, who should be able to create a communicative atmosphere in the school class, which offers a creative and independent attitude in the students. The development of speaking with emphasis on pronunciation has not been object of study of many researchers. In our university there is a previous work carried out by Telour Sotoukee who proposed a system of actions to potentiate accuracy in pronunciation in the English language in a major paper in 2012. Learning a foreign language implies learning how to prono unce correctly in the target language. However, the situation is quite different in class 9th3 at José Marti Pérez Junior High School. Through an interview to students, they referred to how difficult it is.

(7) to speak in English because it is an unknown language for them. The subjects of study stated that it is very difficult to pronounce English words, among them,. those. beginning with /s/ and the endings of regular verbs in past. The author also carried out the observation of several lessons where it was confirmed that the students have several weaknesses in pronunciation mainly in the sounds that do not exist in the mother tongue, in some final sounds like the /ed/ suffix, and in some consonants like the /s/ in initial and final positions. Because of what has been said before, the present paper pretends to give an answer to the following scientific problem: How can students’ pronunciation be improved within the teaching lea rning process of English in 9th grade at José Martí Junior High School? Object of Study: the teaching learning process of the speaking ability in junior high school Field of Action: the improvement of pronunciation in 9th grade. Objective: To propose a system of activities to improve students’ pronunciation in class 9th3 at José Martí Junior High School In order to carry out this research the following Scientific Questions were stated:  Which theoretical and methodological judgments back up the improvemen t of pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in Junior High School?  What is the current situation regarding students’ pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in class 9th3 at José Martí Junior High School?  What characteristics should a system of activities have to improve students’ pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in class 9th3 at José Martí Junior High School?  What are the specialists ’criteria about the system of activities?  What are the results of the partial implementation of the system of activities in the educational practice?.

(8) To answer the above questions, the following Scientific Tasks were declared:  Determination of the theoretical and methodological judgments that support th e improvement of pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in Junior High School.  Diagnosis of the current situation regarding the students’ pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in class 9th3 at José Martí Junior High School.  Elaboration of a system of activities to help improve students’ pronunciation within the Teaching Learning Process of English in class 9th3 at José Martí Junior High School.  Evaluation of the proposal through a specialist´ criteria  Partial evaluation of the proposal through its implementation in the educational practice.. Population and Sample: The population of this research is composed of 210 students who study in 9 th grade at José Martí Junior High School, and the sample is composed of 35 students of class 9th3 from José Martí Junior High School. It is an intentional sample because it is the group in which the author of this study worked during the teaching practice period. The following Variables were taken into consideration in this paper:  Dependent variable: the improvement of pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in class 9th3.  Independent variable: a system of activities to improve students’ pronunciation. The following Research Methods have been used in this paper: From the theoretical level:  Analytic-Synthetic: to decompose the reality in their qualities and parts and to establish the unit among them reconstructing it as a whole, also allowing the theoretical foundation, the elaboration of tools and the integrative synthesis of the results to elaborate the conclusions and the recommendations..

(9)  Inductive-Deductive: to establish generalizations on the base of the studies and the analysis of information and applied techniques referred to the phenomena and individual processes.  Historical-Logical: to evaluate the antecedents, evolution and tendencies of the problem declared in this study.  Systemic approach: to explain the internal structure of the elements of the proposal, and coherence of the system of activities. From the empirical level:  Interviews: to know about the methodological treatment for the development of the speaking ability and why the pronunciation of different sounds is so difficult for students.  Observation: to assess the students’ pronunciation and to know about the methodological treatment for the development of students ‘pronunciation.  Document analysis: to verify the objectives, contents and methodological suggestions for the treatment of the development of students ‘pronunciation.  Survey: It was applied to the specialists to know their criteria about the proposal.  Triangulation: It was applied to the sample with the purpose of verifying the results obtained during the application of the empirical methods.  Pedagogical test:. to verify students’ level of pronunciation within the teaching. learning process of English. From the mathematical and statistical level:  Percentage analysis: to process and quantify the data obtained during the research and implementation stages. Practical Contribution and Scientific Novelty. The significance and innovation of this paper lies on the design of a system of activities aimed at improving students’ pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in 9th grade. This is the first time that such a system of activities is implemented in 9th grade at José Martí Junior High School within the English subject..

(10) Main Part I. Theoretical and methodological judgments back up the improvement of pronunciation within the teaching learning process of English in 9 th grade in Junior High School 1.1 Historical background of the teaching- learning process of English in Cuba Under the materialistic conception of history, the different pedagogical theories, curricula, and teaching methods have been determined by the social and economic conditions of the Cuban society in which these are substantial basis for its proper and active development. The subject of English, within the national system of education, is an innovative answer to the political, economic, social, and cultural significance of foreign languages in today´s world. It is to the extent that the subject of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) plays an important role in helping the growing relationships between Cuba and the rest of the world. This subject helps the students understand, without worries, the scientific conception of the world, considering as starting point the language as a social phenomenon, and the relationship between thought, language and culture. It, t hus, provides necessary tools for the analysis of the language in order to deepen into the innermost features of that connection. The methodology for the teaching of foreign languages in our country sets communicative tasks since the beginning of the process of learning with the purpose of having students begin to speak as soon as possible in the language they are studying. Within the syllabus of the junior high school, the teaching of EFL has established as its main goal the achievement of an elementary level of communicative competence. By communicative competence, in this scope, is meant the comprehension, production, and management of meaning in the interaction between two or more people, or between a person and a text. The following are some of the more traditional methods that had been used before communicative language teaching and how each of them has treated the development of.

(11) the different linguistic abilities, specifically the priority in which they should be taught as well as the treatment of pronunciation in the teaching of English. Grammar-Translation Method (1890s-1930s): It consisted mainly of exhaustive use of dictionaries, explanations of grammatical rules, some sample sentences, and exercise drills to practice the new structures. There was no opportunity for the students to practice speaking, thus pronunciation was not a priority. Cognitive Approach (1940s-1950s): This approach introduced the four principle language skills for the first time: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Oral communicative competence became the focus, so pronunciation as well. Learning about the language was overemphasized. Audio-Lingual Method (1950s-1960s): The language learner could actually hear and mimic native speakers on reel-to-reel audio tapes. Lessons often began with a sample dialogue to be recited and memorized. This was followed up with substitution pattern and saturation drills in which the grammatical structure previously introduced was reinforced, with emphasis given to rapid fire student response. Repetition, substitution, transformation, and translation became the order of the day. The main goal was the development of oral skills and a pronunciation similar to the native. The Direct Method (1970s): Grammar learning became inductive in nature wi thout overt explanations given the pupil. Teacher/student interaction became fuller, guessing of context or content, completing fill-ins, and doing “cloze” exercises were the order of the day. Accuracy in pronunciation and oral _expression became vital. Th e priority was given to oral abilities. (William E. Bull's Spanish for Teachers: Applied Linguistics, c.1965) (Excerpts taken from Approaches and Methods—an Overview (adapted from Nunan, 1989 in Teaching by Principles HD Brown, 1994) 1.2 The Communicative language teaching approach According to Richards (1986) it stresses the importance of providing learners with opportunities to use their English for communicative purposes and, characteristically, attempts to integrate such activities into a wider program of language teaching..

(12) Language is acquired through communication, stimulating the development of the language system itself. Its goal is to develop the communicative competence . According to Canale and Swain (1980) the communicative competence is the capacity that allows the speakers of the language to produce and process oral or written texts in a coherent way. Starting from that idea, it seems important to point out that the achievement of certain levels of communicative competence is the main goa l of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach. CLT has two main guiding principles: the first is that language is not just pattern of grammar with vocabulary items slotted in, but also involves language functions such as inviting, agreeing, and disagreeing, suggesting, etc….which students should learn how to perform using a variety of language exponents. …CLT is not just about the language, in other words, it is about how it is used. The second principle of CLT is that if students get enough exposure to la nguage and opportunities for language use-and if they are motivated- then language learning will take care of itself…. As a result, the focus of much CLT has been on students communicating real messages, and not just grammatically controlled language. The deployment of many communicative activities, where students use all and any language they know to communicate, shows this aspect of CLT at work. (Canale and Swain, 1980) CLT is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. It is also referred to as “communicative approach to the teaching of foreign languages” or simply the communicative approach. Teachers are committed by the communicative approach to p rovide opportunities of meaningful communicative interaction for the learner and to give priority to the learner needs. The hidden assumption supporting these objectives is that “meaningful” is culture bound and culture specific. Yet, paradoxically, learner´s needs are both partly idiosyncratic and partly universalistic-that is, both personal and human nature. (Hymes, 1994) “Communicative language teaching has had a thoroughly beneficial effect since it reminded teachers that people learn languages not so t hat they know about them, but so.

(13) they can communicate with them, Giving students different kind of language, pointing them towards aspects of style and appropriacy, and about all giving them opportunities to try out real language within the classroom humanized what had sometimes been to rigidly controlled” (Hymes, 1994: 180) “The communicative approach is the core of the approach´s potential for being culture sensitive. It should have a built-in facility for being culture sensitive. An important function is that the facility is to put the micro business of classroom teaching in touch with macro social context” (Hymes, 1994:173) According to Richards (1986) this approach also places great emphasis on helping students use the target language in a variety of contexts and places great emphasis on learning language functions. Unlike the ALM, its primary focus is on helping learners create meaning rather than helping them develop perfectly grammatical structures or acquire native-like pronunciation. This means that successfully learning a foreign language is assessed in terms of how well learners have developed their communicative competence, which can loosely be defined as their ability to apply knowledge of both formal and sociolinguistic aspects of a language with adequate proficiency to communicate. After the emergence of CLT, it was evident that the main focus was communication and that there was the need to give students the possibilities and ample opportunities to do so. Nevertheless, while this is all true, fluency is the final go, but accuracy is part of the process of having students become efficient communicators. It is the author´s opinion that the need for accuracy still remains, and that teachers have to find the way to make students understand that there is a need to be fluent, but also correct. Communicative Language Teaching Principles The Communicative Language Teaching Philosophy is expressed through a group of principles that have been stated by important authors. Keith Morrow stated the following principles:  Know what you are doing  The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

(14)  The processes are as important as the forms.  To learn it do it  Mistakes are not always a mistake Another important author was Neil Naiman who created the following principles:  Meaningful practice beyond the sentence level  Student-centered class  Task orientation of classroom activities  Development of strategies for learning beyond the classroom  -Peer correction and group work For the Cuban context Dr. Camacho Delgado designed the following:  Classes should be active and centered on students' educative needs, interests and experiences.  Materials, tasks, activities and resources should be chosen on the basis of educative and linguistic criteria, and should provide for learning and acquisition.  Practice should be carried out through meaningful tasks, which engage students in thinking and activity.  Practice should provide for strategy development.  Students should be engaged in monitoring, self-correction and selfevaluation tasks; they must as well be asked to question and reflect on what they have learned and how they have learned it.  Opportunities should be given to learn content from other areas of the curriculum through the medium of English.  Practice should engage students in cross-cultural comparison.  Classes should foster an atmosphere of co-operation and open communication among students and teachers. The author of this major paper agrees with Camacho´s p rinciples because they are more in line with this research and they have been.

(15) redefined for the secondary school that is the level in which the research is carried out. 1.3. The speaking skill. Oral expression is a two-way process between the speaker and the listener (or listeners) and involves the productive skill of speaking and the receptive skill of understanding. (Byrne D.1989). According to Gurrey (1960) the oral expression is the ability to use the language flowingly with interactive communicative purposes: understanding, the use of communication strategies during the conversation; mastery of the system of the language expressed through students´performance. The author assumes that speaking is a productive skill that belongs to oral communication and in that process the speaker interacts with a listener where both change their roles in the conversation showing understanding (feedback); they are both able to use the needed strategies and know the linguistic content they are going to use. Most writers think that it is the most important of the four language skills, which coul d be true, if the purpose is to use the language orally. According Byrne, 1989. The speaker and listener have a positive role to perform in a conversation. The speaker has to encode the message he wishes to convey in appropriate language, while the listener has to decode or interpret the message. In this respect. the author of this research agrees that speaking. and listening. complement one another, that is why they have to be considered What are the purposes for speaking? The spoken language may be used for two main purposes: a) For interaction or social purposes: which means that the emphasis is on creating harmonious interactions and not for communicating any information..

(16) b) For transactional purposes: The emphasis is on communicating information, i.e. it is ‘message’ oriented. Coherence and accuracy are important to present the information. What is the goal of teaching speaking and how should teachers attain this goal? The goal of teaching speaking is oral fluency; that is, the ability to express oneself intelligibly: reasonably accurately and without too much hesitation. To attain this goal teachers have to bring the students from the presentation stage (where the students understand, get familiar with or recognize the new content in a meaningful context) to the practice stage (where the students may be given ample opportunities to manipulate, practice or reproduce the content presented) and then to the production stage (where the students can use the language freely to express their own ideas. The transition from one of these stages to another should be smooth. (Garcia S, .2006) 1.4 Teaching pronunciation What is Pronunciation? Pronunciation is primarily an oral phenomenon. When we listen to somebody, we listen to his pronunciation, recognize his grammar, vocabulary and style, and we make assumptions as to the purpose the speaker has in mind. On the other hand, when we speak, we produce sounds; organize our utterances grammatically and lexically, and also appropriately to the context and the situation in which we are communicating our purposes. Pronunciation teaching deals with two interrelated skills: recognition or understanding the flow of speech, and production or fluency in the spoken language. These skills rely very little on intellectual mastery of any pronunciation rules. Ultimately it is only practice in listening and speaking which will give the learner the necessary skills. Therefore, it is important to define this concept . (Taken from Gilbert, Judy B.2008) Pronunciation: the act or result of producing the sounds of speech, including articulation, stress, and intonation, often with reference to some standard of correctness or acceptability. (World English Dictionary, 2012) The author agrees with the definition given by Judy Gilbert because it is a more complete and detailed definition of pronunciation. Also it is the most accurate for this research. The author arrived at the conclusion that for the teaching of pronunciation, we should consider not only the.

(17) segmental aspects of the language, but also areas like stress, rhythm and intonation, although sometimes, depending on students’ difficulties, one has to be emphasized. For the objective of this paper, mainly the segmental aspects will be covered. Why do learners make pronunciation errors? Learners’ errors of pronunciation derive from various sources: I. A particular sound may not exist in the mother tongue, so that the learner is not used to forming it and therefore tends to substitute the nearest equivalent he or she knows (the substitution of /d/ or /z/ for the English th /0 / as in think is a typical example). 2. A sound does exist in the mother tongue, but not as a separate phoneme: that is to say, the learner does not perceive it as a distinct sound that makes a difference to meaning. In Hebrew, for example, both the /i/ and /iː/(ship/sheep) sounds occur but which one is used depends only on where the sound comes in the word or phrase, not what the word means; and if one is substituted for the other, no difference in meaning results. These are called ‘allophonic variations’ of a phoneme, or ‘allophones’. The result is that the Hebrew-speaking learner is not naturally aware of the difference in English, and may not even hear it. (On the whole, the second of the two problems is the more difficult. A totally new sound is often easily perceived as alien, and once you can hear a sound you are well on the way to being able to pronounce it. But if you cannot hear it then you cannot even attempt to pronounce it, and the problem of perception needs to be overcome before any progress can b e made.)(Penny Ur, 1996) How to teach pronunciation Pronunciation has traditionally been taught with a goal of “speaking like a native speaker,” but this is not practical. In fact, it is a recipe for discouragement both for teachers and for students. This has been referred to as “the perfection trap” (Morley 1992). A more practical approach is to aim for “listener-friendly pronunciation” (Kjellin 1998). This aim makes sense to a student who hopes to achieve something through conversations with native speakers, whether in the social or business sense. If the listener finds that it takes too much effort to understand, the speaker loses out. So mastering the basics of English communication is sensible. Refinements can come later if.

(18) the student wants to put more effort and time into learning nuances of spoken English” (Fraser, 1999/2) Pronunciation tips for secondary school students: The most important thing to remember is practice. Learning English takes time but if you practice often you will soon improve and be able to pronounce words accurately. The more the sounds are spoken, the more naturally language will come to you. 1-Practice pronunciation in front of a mirror. You have to train your mouth to move in new ways in order to make new sounds. Watch your mouth as you speak. 2-Watch television shows in which Standard English pronunciation is used. 3-Listening to the radio is another option. The more the sounds and language patterns you hear, the easier they will be to remember. (http://www.ehow.com/way) It could be stated that teachers of any foreign language should be aware that the best way to acquire a good pronunciation is listening and practicing the language orally. It means that the ability of listening comprehension cannot be put aside when dealing wit h pronunciation. Pronunciation in a communicative context According to Fraser (1999) Learners benefit greatly from explicit explanation of how pronunciation fits into the overall process of communication. A very simple model of communication, showing a listener trying to interpret a message on the basis of cues in the speakers' speech, is sufficient. This gives learners a framework within which to understand what goes wrong when they are not understood or are misunderstood, and to gain a clear, practical i dea of the nature of linguistic contrast - not just a classroom drill with 'thigh' and 'thy', but the living basis of our ability to communicate in real life contexts..

(19) “You do not need an expensive language laboratory to teach pronunciation. It does help i f you and some of your students have access to tape recorders, both for recording and monitoring in-class production and for taping outside- of-class natural conversations. None of the activities described in this chapter requires the use of a language lab oratory” and “It is true that one needs an understanding of the sound system of English in order to teach pronunciation effectively, but one does not need to be an expert phonetician. With good resources, effective and committed ESL teachers can rapidly become effective pronunciation teachers as well” (Naiman, 1989) Suprasegmentals “Students should practice the suprasegmental aspects of English pronunciation from the earliest stages (e.g. the schwa, major sentence stress, intonation, and information focus). After practicing suprasegmentals in a variety of more controlled exercises, students should be given an opportunity to practice suprasegmentals in longer stretches of discourse. It is through these longer samples of real language that the relationship bet ween suprasegmentals and meaning becomes so evident. These practice activities can initially take the form of simple teacher-student modelling and imitation, as well as oral reading. The language used for this practice should be taken from realistic dialog ues, transcripts of news reports, natural conversation (as long as the language is truly spoken language and not written language)” (Naiman, 1989) Some techniques to improve Pronunciation (taken from Naiman, 1989) Matching exercises Another way of practicing a sound contrast such as /b/ and /v/ involves the use of matching exercises. Divide the class into two groups. Group A has a written description of several people. Group B has a picture containing all of the people for which there are descriptions. The object of this activity is to match the written descriptions with the appropriate people. Chain stories.

(20) Each student receives a phrase containing the sound contrasts being practiced. The first student must embed that phrase in a short story (or string of related sentences) of no longer than four sentences. The task of the other students is to guess the embedded phrase based on the correct pronunciation of the relevant sound or sound contrast. The next student continues the story using the phrase that he or she has received. Rhymalogues In Improving Spoken English, Joan Morley uses ‘rhymalogues’ as a way of practicing contractions and reduced expressions in a semi-communicative fashion. For example, students can work in pairs or in groups with one member of the pair asking a question and the other providing a response. Dialogues and role plays Common reduced expressions such as ‘gonna’, ‘wanna’, ‘hafta’, ‘shoulda’,and ‘coulda’ can be practiced in dialogues and role plays. It is often necessary to provide stu dents with models of such dialogues. When possible, these should be done with the students attempting to generate the dialogues and the teachers serving primarily as a resource person. Shadowing After the oral reading activities above have been practiced extensively, the students can attempt ‘shadowing’. This technique requires that students follow the rhythm and intonation contours of natural language samples by producing the language at the same time as the teacher models it. I have found this technique to be both useful and fun for students. Focused activities Other more focused communicative activities involving suprasegmentals can be developed as well. For example, students can attempt to practice the difference between content and function words and the stress patterns associated with them by completing tasks where they have to send a telegram.

(21) Monitoring It is crucial that students begin to monitor and correct each other’s pronunciation. When students are monitoring rhythm, stress, and the production of segments, they must comment on it. This means that they are communicating about pronunciation. The ability to monitor pronunciation is invaluable. It provides students with the opportunities and the strategies to continue their learning beyond the cla ssroom II. Needs´ assessment related students’ pronunciation Characterization of the sample The objects of investigation are characterized by having a high level of activity and enjoying cooperative games and competitive sports which make it easier for the author to implement the system of activities. They may adopt extremes and fads in clothing, speech, handwriting and mannerisms and have a strong desire to assert individuality and independence. The objects feel unsure of their place in society and they a lso establish a personal moral code. This helps the author in having their respect and putting them in time and space. They ask many questions and want thoughtful answers so the author always needs to be prepared. They tend to develop strong interests, hobbies and collections, so they begin to think in their future roles, which is a great help for the implementation of the system of activities. They can plan ahead and organize tasks with little or no guidance from adults. Some of them enjoy humor by telling jokes.. Dimensions and Indicators System of sounds Pronunciation of sounds that do not exist in Spanish Pronunciation of the sound /S/ in initial and final position Pronunciation of final sounds mainly the /ed/ ending in the past regular verbs Empirical Methods.

(22) During the first three weeks of the course, the author of this major paper applied different empirical methods to collect all the necessary data to describe the students’ real situation regarding pronunciation in English language and to justify the implementation of the system of activities. The first method was the analysis of documents used to know the priority given to speaking ability and pronunciation in the program of the subject and the students’ workbook. Through this method the official documents of the English subject in the secondary school, the syllabus and the students’ workbook were analyzed. The other method used was the participant observation to ver ify the student’s pronunciation of the sound /S/ in initial and final position, and their pronunciation regarding the endings mainly the /ed/ used in the past of the regular verbs, and the treatment of the pronunciation for the development of their communicative competence in English lessons. An interview was also applied to the students, objects of the investigation, to get information about the students’ motivation, most common mistakes and changes in the methodology suggested by the students. A pedagogical test was also applied to the students, objects of the investigation to assess students´ level of pronunciation. Results The syllabus of ninth grade has eleven units and each unit should be taught in at least ten or twelve hours. Most of the hours should be devoted to the teaching of speaking ability, as this is the main ability that should be developed in secondary school students. The teachers have to use the communicative language teaching method, as it is suggested. It is organized taking into account the communicative functions and then the others aspects such as pronunciation, grammar and necessary vocabulary to express each one of them. As it could be observed the teaching of pronunciation is suggested..

(23) The students’ workbook has many exercises to develop the speaking ability and most of the exercises ask the students to complete dialogues, paragraphs, and activities. Many of them should be improved by the teachers because they don`t express a real communicative situation. There is not any exercise devoted to the practice of pronunciation. The author observed ten speaking lessons. Three presentation lessons, five controlledpractice and two free practice lessons. It can be stated that the majority of the students were motivated because they participated voluntarily. The main difficulties are in 29 students, which represent 82.8%, who do not pronounce correctly the sounds that do not exist in their mother tongue, sounds in words like: special, school, talked, George, words and many others. After evaluating the test, the author verified that 30 students, which represent 85.7%, made many mistakes in the pronunciation of the verbs in past and in third person singular because they tried to pronounce them the same way they are written and also made mistakes with some initial and final sounds like /s/, /id/, /d/, /t/. It means that the st udents did not have the necessary practice with these verbs in previous courses. The majority of the students express they like English but sometimes they do not feel interested because it is so difficult the pronunciation of several sounds that do not exi st in their mother tongue, sounds in words like: garage, stand, speak, worked, think, and other like the /S/ in initial and final position, and several endings mainly the /ed/ They also stated they speak English in class; but they do not speak English outside class, except when they have a homework that forced them to talk with a partner. Another statement of the students that they rarely do or practice exercises devoted to pronunciation in class because the majority of the exercise in the workbook and text book is about writing or speaking. Through the triangulation of methods, the author analyzed and processed the results obtained getting to the following regularities: REGULARITIES  The students make pronunciation mistakes mainly in those sounds that do not exist in Spanish.  Students make pronunciation mistakes and in the sound /S/ in initial and final position..

(24)  The students make mistakes in the pronunciation of final sounds, frequently, in the /ed/ ending of the regular verbs.  The students’ tendency is to pronounce words as they are pronounced in their mother tongue. III. System of activities 3.1 Characterization of the proposal: Pronunciation work can be kept simple and employ exercises which are both accessible and enjoyable for students, whatever their level. Whenever students do a freer speaking activity, the main aim is usually for them to develop their spoken fluency in the language. The work with pronunciation for attaining accuracy is mainly carried out at the reproduction stage where there is more drilling and repetition and mistakes can be corrected on the spot. That doesn´t mean, however, that in fluency activities there is no room for accuracy. That should take place when teachers give feedback on students’ use of language. The present. proposal contains ten exercises. that have been designed mainly for. controlled practice activities . These are aimed at reinforcing students’ ability to produce different sounds, as well as to create a need for students to concentrate and think about improving their pronunciation as a way to improve their overall performance in the English language. In the system of activities there is an integration of speaking and listening, based on the belief that students can produce better if they get more model input. There was a partial implementation of the proposal mainly for units 6 and 7. The activities were graded according to their complexity and taking into account the topic and language areas under study. Definition of a system According to Grijalbo´s Dictionary a system is defined as: An arranged and coherent whole of rules, norms or principles related to certain matter. Organized whole of things, means, ideas, etc., that contributes to a same goal..

(25) The Webster’s dictionary defines system as “a set or arrangement of things so related or connected as to form a unity or organic whole” Taking aspects of both definitions the author gets to that conclusion that a system is a set of interrelated parts forming a complex whole. It is a regular union of principles or parts forming one entire thing. The proposal as a system of activities The activities are related mainly to the pronunciation of consonant sounds. The proposal can be considered a system since the activities are organized to match the units of study in the 9th grade syllabus. The different activities are united by a common objective which is to reinforce elements of pronunciation for students’ better oral production. The philosophical bases of the proposal of this major paper are grounded on the Marxist-Leninist philosophy. This philosophy considers language as a social phenomenon used by men for communication in the course of labor. Therefore THE main objective of language is communication. The proposal is aimed at the development of students’ pronunciation as the bases for further communication. The proposal suggested will help the students to potentiate their accuracy in English pronunciation. From the pedagogical point of view, this work is backed up by the Vigostkian postulates and his Socio-Cultural school. He points out that the school plays an important role, as a socializing institution, in the transmission of the relevant products of culture. According to his point of view there is no learning without a certain level of previous development and there is no development without learning. That is why a system of exercises was implemented in order to develop of students’ pronunciation as the bases for further communication in English language. Form the methodological point of view the proposal is backed up by the use of the communicative language teaching approach and principles. Language is taught to develop students’ abilities in the use of the oral language at an elementary level. In order to attain this objective the communicative language principles (CLT ) should be followed. Different authors have defined the CLT principles. The author has followed the ones redefined byPh. Alfredo Camacho as they were aimed at the teaching of a foreign language in secondary school..

(26) . Principles:  Classes should be active and centered on students' educative needs, interests and experiences.  Materials, tasks, activities and resources should be chosen on the basis of educative and linguistic criteria, and should provide for learning and acquisition.  Practice should be carried out through meaningful tasks, which engage students in thinking and activity.  Practice should provide for strategy development.  Students should be engaged in monitoring, self-correction and self-evaluation tasks; they must as well be asked to question and reflect on what they have learned and how they have learned it.  Opportunities should be given to learn content from other areas of the curriculum through the medium of English.  Practice should engage students in cross-cultural comparison.  Classes should foster an atmosphere of co-operation and open communication among students and teacher.. Example of the system of activities Activity 1 Aim: to produce the sound /Ѳ/ in initial and final position Procedures: - The teacher reads the words for the students to repeat aloud. The teacher uses different grouping for the repetition practice. - Students work in pairs to increase the list with more words having the same sound. After they practice reading the words - Students are asked to use some of the words to make meaningful sentences..

(27) Listen to the following words and repeat: Thursday Without Teeth Thunder Bath Warmth Think Math Birth Thirsty Thorn Booth.

(28) Activity 3 Aim: to produce the sound /s/ in initial, middle and final position Procedures: - the teacher gives the students cards with words written on them (the words below) - The teacher reads all the words for students to recognize the pronunciation of the sound /s/ in initial, middle and final position. - The teacher asks students to repeat after him - Students pair up according to the words they have in the card, and then pronounce the words several times following the teacher´s model - The teacher discusses with the students the differences between the pronunciation of /s/ in English and in Spanish in the different positions. - The teacher asks students to write some sentences including some of the words in the exercise. Special. school. slavery. works. doors. needs. Scan. script. stole. Jewels. capitalists. division. Specimen. split. spoke. Activity 5 Aim: to produce the ed ending of regular verbs in simple past in conversations created by themselves..

(29) Procedures: - The teacher asks students to repeat the pronu nciation of the list of regular verbs below. - The teacher organizes pairs and asks them to say the verbs to one another. - The teacher asks students to correct in pairs - The teacher asks students to create a small dialogue using some of the verbs from the list. - The teacher goes around giving some feedback. Instruction: a. After practicing the pronunciation of the verbs below, work in pairs and peer correct any pronunciation problem. b. Create a small dialogue using some of these verbs where you talk about your past activities or habits. List of verbs. cooked. loved. washed invited. visited jumped. enjoyed watched. walked needed. Specialist´s criteria The pedagogic practice does not always guarantee the sufficient practice and the systematic control that allows the process of identification of the mistakes and to offer the levels of help on time. The students do not always have an active role in class. The attention to the orientation and control of the teaching of pronunciation is not enough. The proposal was shown to six specialists and they were subjected to a survey to consider their opinions about it. The following aspects were taken into account:.

(30) 1-Relevance 2-Quality 3-Suitability to the students´ level 4-Logical structure of the activities 5-Potentiality to improve pronunciation in the students 6-Communicativeness According with the items of relevance, quality, logical structure of the activities, potentiality to improve pronunciation in the students and communicativeness all of them marked in the higher expression of it, what represent 100%. Taking into account the suitability to the students´ level five of them marked in the four expression of the item, what represents 83.3%. All of them considered that it was pertinent and very, communicative. They also stated that it has great quality and it is useful for the students to improve the pronunciation. They think it is suitable taking into account the students´ level and knowledge, but it is important to make some changes in the purpose to make it more suitable, and, it is also important to continue looking for strategies to motivate students in this grade. In conclusion, they deliberate that it has to be a little bit more organized.. Results of the partial implementation of the system of activities During the implementation of this system of actions, the teacher could find out that the students made the same mistakes of the prior course. They tended to pronounce the words omit the final sounds of the words .However, most of the students were very motivated in talking about their past activities and habits; so they had participated in class spontaneously when the teacher asked them to read the mini-dialogue aloud. With the implementation of the system of activities the majority of students are able to correct their classmates’ mistakes while practicing the exercises and they pronounce the words as it is expected at the secondary school level, so they acquired a good pronunciation except for six students who still make mistakes. The students were asked about the most.

(31) difficult exercises. They mentioned the two exercises with recordings: tongue twister and dictation, they were so interested they found them difficult due to the voice in off that they heard belongs to a native person and because they had never been subjected to this kind of exercises. The authors think that to read aloud, to use choral singing and to practice the English pronunciation in front of a mirror are another very good ways t o improve students’ pronunciation, these are some techniques that should be taken into account for future research. The author also asked the students’ opinions about the activities made during those units and the students said that they enjoyed the activi ties very much even though there were many exercises and sometimes they got tired. The author’s mentor liked a lot the system of actions implemented because it really contributed to improve the students’ pronunciation.. Conclusions. 1.. The theoretical and methodological foundations reflected the importance of the speaking skill and the need to consider it in combination with the listening skill when dealing with pronunciation. Fluency is a very important aim in CLT, but accuracy in the pronunciation of segmentals should be considered in the development of communicative competence.. 2.. The results obtained through the different instruments applied allowed the author to identify the students’ strengths and weaknesses regarding their pronunciation.. 3.. The proposal of the system of activities contributes to the development of students´ pronunciation, giving them opportunities to practice and improve their performance.. 4.. The proposal of the system of activities is considered appropriate and suitable because it took into account the needs of secondary school students in the foreign language..

(32) 5.. The implementation of the system of activities contributed to improve the of 9 th graders´ pronunciation in English, though there are some students that still make mistakes due to the lack of a systematic practice.. Suggestions  To improve the system of actions implemented in this study for future implementation.  To continue using the techniques suggested for potentiating accuracy in pronunciation in the rest of the units..

(33) Bibliography 1. Brumfit. Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Routledge, 1983 2. Bull, William E. Spanish for Teachers: Applied Linguistics, c.1965. 3. Byrne, Donn. Teaching Oral English. Ediciones Revolucionarias, Cuba, 1989. 4. Camacho Delgado, A. Tesis de Doctorado.- Universidad de Ciencias Pedagógicas “Félix Varela” Villa Clara, 2002 5. Canale, M. and Swain, M. Theoretical Basis of Communicative Approaches to Second Language Teaching and Testing. Applied Linguistics, 1980. 6. Canale, Michael. From Communicative Competence to Communicative Language Pedagogy. Richards J. and Richards S. Eds. Longman. London, 1983. 7. Castro Ruz, Fidel. “Speech given by Fidel Castro Ruz, president of the Councils of State and Ministers at the Ceremony to Inaugurate Re-training Courses for Workers in the Sugar Industry, held on the Grounds of the Eduardo García Lavandero Sugar Mill in Artemisa Municipality. October 21, 2002 (digitalized version) 8. Diccionario Enciclopédico Grijalbo. Editorial Arte, pp. 451. Ed. Grijalbo Mondador. S.A. Barcelona, 1998. 9. Fraser, Helen. ESL Pronunciation Teaching: Could it be more effective? ALAA Conference, Perth, 1999. 10. Gilb World English Dictionary, 2012ert, Judy B, Teaching Pronunciation. Cambridge University Press.2008. 11. Gurrey, P: Teaching the mother tongue in secondary school Longmans, London, 1960 12. Hymes,. Dell.. On. Communicative. competence.. Harmondsworth, England. Penguin Books, 1994 13. Keith Morrow, K: Principles of Communicative Methodology in Communication in the Classroom. Longman, 1981. Sociolinguistics..

(34) 14. Naiman, N. Article: Teaching Pronunciation Communicatively. Communication Journal, INTUR, 1989. 15. Penny Ur.: A Course in language Teaching. Cambridge University Press, 1996. 16. Richards, Jack C. and Rodgers, Theodore S: Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press, 1986 17. Webster's New World Dictionary & Thesaurus Copyright © 2006 by Wiley Publishing, Inc, Cleveland, Ohio 18. http://www.ehow.com/way.

(35) Annexes of the initial evaluation. Annex # 1: Document Analysis Objective: To know the priority given to speaking ability and pronunciation in the program of the subject and the students’ workbook. Aspects to evaluate: 1. The program of the subject in 9 th grade: . Number of unit in the program. . Time devoted to each unit. . Time devoted to speaking in each unit. . Methodology suggested. 2. Students’ workbook . Number of exercises to practice speaking ability.. . Variety of exercised to practice speaking ability.. . Communicative or traditional exercises.. . Exercises related to the communicative functions of the unit.. Results -The students’ workbook has many exercises to develop speaking ability . -Most of the exercises ask the students to complete dialogues, paragraph, and activities. -Many of them should be improved by the teachers because they don`t express a real communicative situation. -There is not any exercise devoted to the practice of pronunciation ..

(36) Annex # 2: Participant Observation: Aim: To verify the student’s pronunciations of the sound / S/ in initial and final position, and their pronunciation regarding the endings mainly the /ed/ used in the past of the regular verbs, and the treatment of the pronunciation for the development of their communicative competence in English lessons. . Aspects to evaluate: . Pronunciation of sounds that do not exist in Spanish. . Pronunciation of final sounds mainly the /ed/ ending. . Pronunciation of the sound /S/ in initial and final position. Results -The majority of the students were motivated because the majo r part of them participated voluntarily -Their main difficulties are in 29 students who do not pronounce correctly the sounds that do not exist in their mother tongue, sounds in words like: special, school, talked, George, words.

(37) Annex # 3: Interview to students Objective: To get information about the students’ motivation, most common mistakes and changes in the methodology suggested by the students. Aspects to evaluate: . Students’ motivation in lessons. . The most difficult exercises. . The students’ most common mistakes. . Changes in the methodology suggested by the students. Results -The majority of the students express they like English but sometimes they do not feel interested because it is so difficult its pronunciation of several sound that do no t exist in their mother tongue, sound in words like: garage, stand, speak, worked, think.

(38) Annex #4: Pedagogical test Objective: To assess students’ level of pronunciation. Aspects to evaluate: . Pronunciation of sounds that do not exist in Spanish. . Pronunciation of final sounds. . Pronunciation of the sound /S/ in 3rd person singular. Role Play: Student A: You are a teacher of English and you met a new student, who is so happy because he spent all his vacation’s time during an unforgettable travel, in the first day at school. But he/she is your friend´s child and you want to know about what happened during his/her last vacation. *Ask your friend about what did his/her child do during his/her last vacation. Student B: Your friend wants to have more information about what happened during your child`s last vacation. * Answer your friend’s questions.. Results After evaluating the test, I that 30 students made many mistakes in the pronunciation of the verbs in past and in third person singular because they tried to pronounce them the same way they are written and also made mistakes with some initial and final sounds like /s/, /id/, /d/, /t/. It means that the students did not have the necessary practice with these verbs in previous courses..

(39) Annex # 5: Survey to the specialists Usted ha sido seleccionado por su experiencia en la enseñanza de la lengua inglesa, como especialista para ofrecer una valoración de la propuesta de la presente investigación sobre la enseñanza de la pronunciación in 9th grade. Le rogamos su colaboración y le agradecemos de antemano. Datos Personales Nombre(s) y Apellidos: Grado Científico y/o título académico: Años de experiencia como profesor de la lengua inglesa: 1-Marque con una x la casilla correspondiente en torno al aspecto a e valuar en cada caso, teniendo en cuenta que el número 1 es la mínima expresión del indicador y el 5 la máxima.. No. Aspectos a evaluar. 1. Pertinencia. 2. Calidad de la propuesta. 3. Adecuado al nivel de los estudiantes. 4. Estructura lógica de las actividades. 5. Potencialidad. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

(40) para mejorar la pronunciación de los estudiantes 6. Comunicativo. Sugerencias: _____________________________________________________________. Annex # 6: Names of the specialists consulted 1-Maria del Carmen Orama Marrero (Licenciada en Educación, 25 años de experiencia) 2-Jesús Diaz de Villegas Cruz (Master en Educación, 33 años de experiencia) 3-Reynier Creach Orellanes (Licenciado en Educación, 3 años de experiencia) 4-Sucel (Licenciada en Educación, 3 años de experiencia) 5-Meylin Pérez Pérez (Licenciada en Educación, 5 años de experiencia) 6-Teresa Mildestein Armenteros (Master en Educación, 36 años de experiencia).

(41) Annex # 7: Activity 1 Aim: to produce the sound /Ѳ/ in initial and final position Procedures: -. The teacher reads the words for the students to repeat aloud. The teacher uses different grouping for the repetition practice.. -. Students work in pairs to increase the list with more words having the same sound. After they practice reading the words.

(42) -. Students are asked to use some of the words to make meaningful sentences.. Listen to the following words and repeat: Thursday. Bath. Birth. Without. Warmth. Thirsty. Teeth. Think. Thorn. Thunder. Math. Booth. Activity 2 Aim: to discriminate similar sounds and to produce them later: Procedures: the teacher reads some words out of a pair and asks students to identify which one she has said. Instruction: Look at the following pairs of words. Identify which word the teacher pronounces. Then repeat in pairs to make the distinction between the two sounds. Three-- free. Fought--- thought. Thin--- sin. Moth--- moss. Thor--- soar. Frilled--- thrilled. Pass--- path. Three---free. Both--- boat. Activity 3 Aim: to produce the sound /s/ in initial, middle and final position Procedures:.

(43) -. the teacher gives the students cards with words written on them (the words below). -. The teacher reads all the words for students to recognize the pronunciation of the sound /s/ in initial, middle and final position.. -. The teacher asks students to repeat after him. -. Students pair up according to the words they have in the card, and then pronounce the words several times following the teacher´s model. -. The teacher discusses with the students the differences between the pronunciation of /s/ in English and in Spanish in the different positions.. -. The teacher asks students to write some sentences including some of the words in the exercise. Special. school. slavery. works. doors. needs. Scan. script. stole. Jewels. capitalists. division. Specimen. split. spoke. Activity 4 Aim: to recognize and then produce the three variants for the pronunciation of the ed form of regular verbs in the simple past. Procedures: -. The teacher elicits the rule for the pronunciation of regular verbs in past tense.. -. The teacher asks students to complete the sentences below with one of the verbs that are suggested. The hints given for the pronunciation of the verb will determine which one goes in the blank..

(44) -. The teacher organizes pairs to practice saying the sentences with the correct pronunciation.. -. The teacher selects the best couple for demonstration.. Instruction: a. Complete the sentences with verbs from the list below. The verbs in each pair are synonyms. Use the pronunciation hint to de cide which verb goes in each space. b. Compare your choice with your partner and then practice saying the sentences in pairs.. 1. Geoffrey _______ through the dark hall. (the ed is pronounced /t/) 2. Dora ________ with her new neighbors. (the ed is pronounced /id/) 3. After the storm, the tree was_______ with snow. (the ed is pronounced /d/) 4. All the students were _______for their success in the competition. (the ed is pronounced /id/) 5. The new manager really ________his new team. (the ed is pronounced /t/). List of verbs: Walked---wandered Talked---chatted Covered--- surrounded Congratulated---admired Liked --- loved.

(45) Activity 5 Aim: to produce the ed ending of regular verbs in simple past in conversations created by themselves. Procedures: -. The teacher asks students to repeat the pronunciation of the list of regular verbs below.. -. The teacher organizes pairs and asks them to say the verbs to one another.. -. The teacher asks students to correct in pairs. -. The teacher asks students to create a small dialogue using some of the verbs from the list.. -. The teacher goes around giving some feedback.. Instruction: c. After practicing the pronunciation of the verbs below, work in pairs and peer correct any pronunciation problem. d. Create a small dialogue using some of these verbs where you talk about your past activities or habits. List of verbs: cooked. watched. loved. needed. visited enjoyed walked washed invited jumped.

(46) Activity 6 Aim: to produce some fricative sounds in English. Game: Chinese whispers. (Adapted from Nicola Meldrum, British Council, Spain) Procedures: -. The teacher sits the learners in a circle or puts them on a line.. -. The teacher whispers a sound in the ear of the first student.. -. The sound is passed around the class until the last student. If the same sound gets to the end the students get a point, if not the teacher gets a point.. -. Students are asked to brainstorm words with the sound that was passed around.. Suggested sounds: [∫], [v], [ð] and[Ѳ]. Activity 7: (adapted from English Pronunciation Course) at http://international.ouc.bc.ca/Pronunciation/ Aim: to discriminate differences among fricative sounds. Procedures: - The teacher reads some words for students to repeat. He copy the words on the board (the words in the exercise, but not in a particular order) - Students are set in pairs and repeat the words again by themselves. - Students take turns to read the three words in each line. When one. student. reads, the other will write down the word which sounds different. Instructions: Work with a partner. First, repeat the words below. Your partner will write down the word which sounds different. 1. version. virgin. version ________________. 2. pledger. pledger. pleasure ________________. 3. legion. lesion. lesion ________________.

(47) 4. purging. Pershing. Pershing ________________. 6. major. measure. major ________________. Activity 8: (adapted from English Pronunciation Course) at http://international.ouc.bc.ca/Pronunciation/ Aim: to understand and shadow the pronunciation of some English sounds. Material aids: recording Procedures: - The teacher plays a recording where some sentences are dictated (it can be played several times) - Students complete the sentences while listening to the recording. - The teacher and students revise the answers on the board. - Students do some shadowing using the recording or the voice of the teacher. Instructions: a. Listen to the sentences and write them on the lines below. 1. _Roger____________________________________occasion.____ 2. _______________Parisians_______________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________ 5. __Majors_____________________________________________ b. After you complete the sentences, do some shadowing to improve your pronunciation.. Activity 9 :( adapted from English Pronunciation Course) at http://international.ouc.bc.ca/Pronunciation/.

(48) Aim: to produce statements in a quick way to reinforce English pronunciation. Material aids: recording Procedures: - The teacher plays a recording with tongue twisters (They can be played several times one at a time) - Students repeat in groups or individually.. Instructions: Say the following sentences aloud, paying attention to the sound. 1. Those of the southern and northern areas are still writhing and seethi ng. 2. Breathe the breeze, loathe the lows, and soothe the Sues. 3. Rather than loathing their mothers, soothe their fathers. 4. Bathing in the bays is soothing to those teething brothers. 5. Dan would rather scythe in wetter weather. 6. Though dough is worthy, it is worthier with their father's tithe..

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