Jumat, 09 April 2010

THE PRONUNCIATION PROBLEM IN THE CLASSROOM

THE PRONUNCIATION PROBLEM IN THE CLASSROOM

(By: SUBHAN SHABRI)

2009

1. INTRODUCTION

The target of teaching and learning English is to enable students to communicate in the language. It is expected that the students have ability in four language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. All the language skills support one another. There must be a balance among the skills. Each skill consists of three components; they are grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The components will be parameter for the learners in measuring the progress of their learning activities. How they use the correct grammar, the choice of words or vocabulary, and, of course, how they pronounce the words or vocabularies they use in spoken English (for listening and speaking skills).

However, teaching English in senior high schools means facing learners or students who have got English lesson for years in previous school levels. They are not beginners who do not know English at all. They have got a number of English vocabularies in their own mind, and even some of them are good in grammar. But, since English is taught as a foreign language, they do not have enough time and opportunities to practice this language naturally. English is not used as the means of communication. Consequently, their English is passive.

Brown (2000: p.1) says that learning a second language is a long and complex undertaking. Your whole person is affected as your struggle to reach beyond the confines of your first language and into a new language, a new culture, a new way of thinking, feeling, and acting. Total commitment, total involvement, total physical, intellectual, and emotional responses are necessary to successfully send and receive messages in a second language.

Learning and teaching English as a foreign language will be more complicated than Brown’s statement above since English is not used as a means of communication. There is only a little opportunity to communicate in this language. For that reason, the senior high school students have known about English, but they do not want to practice their English because they have problem with pronunciation.

Practice is the key word for the four basic skills in English. Concerning with the speaking skill, the learners of English as the foreign language have to be able to pronounce the English vocabulary correctly when they practice this language. So, the problem is how well they pronounce all vocabularies which they use, so that their audience can understand what they mean. Mispronunciation will make miscommunication.

2. DISCUSSION

a. Problem

The tenth year students of MAN Teluk Kuantan have English subject three times a week, each meeting is ninety minutes. The subjects are delivered in English. The teaching and learning activities cover four language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. The students pay full attention to the teacher and the subjects. In fact, the students still have some problems. Among all of the problems, the most serious one is about pronunciation. The students tend to pronounce the English vocabularies as the phenomenon above. Mispronunciation is something happens frequently.

The writer would like to give an example as the illustration of the pronunciation problem of the students. One of the students wants to make sure whether his friend will come today or no. He phones the friend and says ‘Are you going here to die?’ [a: ju goiŋ hie tu dai]? Actually he wants to ask ‘Are you going here today?’ [a: ju goiŋ hie tude]?, but he mispronounces day [de] as die [dai].

He pronounces the word day as [dai] because he is influenced by his habit reading the word in the Indonesian language, there is no difference between spelling and pronunciation in Indonesian as their mother tongue. They tend to pronounce the words they use as what the spelling are. The mispronunciation case as the example above happens frequently.

The problems can be described as follows:

  1. They mispronounce the homonyms such as:

day [de] and die [dai]

work [wə:k] and walk [wo:k]

snake [sneik] and snack [snæk]

other [Λðә] and order [o:de:]

fool [fu:l] and full [ful]

four [fə:] and for [fə]

love [lΛf] and laugh [laf]

feel [fi:l] and fill [fil]

high [hai] and hike [haik]

2. They mispronounce the -ed in the ending of past forms (V2) and past participle forms (V3). For example, how to pronounce looked, warned, needed, or wanted.

b. Problem Solving

The significance of pronunciation in English can be proved by numerous English pronunciation dictionaries. A standard English dictionary always includes the pronunciation phonetically of each entry of the word. It means that an English learner will find from the dictionary not only the meaning of the word, but something which is also important is how to pronounce the word correctly. If he knows the spelling of the word only, possibly he will be able to write the word, but he will mispronounce it if he or she does not know the pronunciation of the word.

Actually the teacher has implemented a number of approaches and methods to help the students in order to reduce their weaknesses in pronouncing English vocabularies. The teacher has asked them to ensure or clarify the pronunciation of the words on the dictionary by themselves. Dictation and Drill Method have also been implemented by the teacher to make them familiar with the vocabularies of this foreign language. In fact, the efforts are not useful enough to help them in overcoming the pronunciation problem.

There must be an approach or method to overcome this pronunciation problem. The approach or method must belong to practical things. Littlewood (1981: p.8) states that the criterion for success in communication is not so much whether he or she has managed to convey an intended meaning, but rather whether he or she has produced an acceptable piece of language. However, by emphasizing the communicative nature of this language, the activities also aim to help the learner develop links with meaning that will later enable him or her to use this language for communicative purposes.

The term ‘practice’, as used here, includes not only activities where the learner’s response is expected to be immediate, but also those where the learner has more time to reflect on the operations he or she is performing.

To gain the purpose of teaching, a teacher should be creative to choose the appropriate way of teaching. In this case, a teacher must be able to combine some techniques, methods, or approaches to make students pronounce the words easily. Because the appropriate way chosen by the teacher can influence students’ interest, motivation and their ability in pronunciation.

In teaching and improving the English pronunciation, usually teachers use Drill Method. The teachers ask the students to repeat the words they say after them. It is useful enough to make the students able to know about the English pronunciation, but there are also some weaknesses of this method. The students will merely know the pronunciation of the words which have been asked by the teachers to be repeated in the Drill Method. It is impossible for the teachers to always use this method in teaching and increasing the pronunciation ability of the students. It will spend too much time. This way tends to be far away from the term of contextual and seems to be textual. The purpose of learning a language communicatively will be out of target.

The writer offers Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) as the way out or solution of the pronunciation problem if the students in the classroom. CLT is a kind of approach in teaching and learning a language communicatively, or we can say learning a language by using (or practicing) it immediately. Finocchario & Brumfit (1983) in Brown (1994: p.79) say the characteristics of CLT seems to be the answer of how to improve the students’ pronunciation ability. They are:

1. Communicative competence is the desired goal.

2. Meaning is paramount.

3. Dialog, if used, center around communicative functions and are not normally memorized.

4. Contextualization is a basic premise.

5. Language learning is learning to communicate.

6. Effective communication is sought.

7. Drilling may occur, but peripherally.

8. Comprehension pronunciation is sought.

9. Attempts to communicate may be encouraged from the very beginning.

10. Translation may be used where the students need or benefit from it.

11. Linguistic variation is a central concept in materials and methods.

12. Language is created by the individual often through trial and error.

13. Fluency and acceptable language is the primary goal: accuracy is judged not in the abstract but in context.

14. Students are expected to interact with other people, either in the flesh, through pair and group work, or in their writings.

15. Teachers help students in any way that motivates them to work with the language.

In implementing CLT in teaching English pronunciation, teacher has to remember that the characteristics of CLT; there must be a communication activity, in this case, the listening and speaking skills must be the targets in teaching and learning activity. The activity itself can be dialogs between teacher and students, or among the students themselves, it also can be interviews, role plays, and so on. The activities have to be able to force the students to get involved in the communicative activities. They have to listen to what people say to them and try to recognize and understand, then how to respond them by speaking (producing by them). Promadi (2008: p.54) says that the activities taken by the teacher into the classroom have to be able to help the students in reaching the communicative target. The activities make them active in communication such as sharing information, negotiating, and to fulfill the information gap.

Furthermore, he says that CLT activities are begun by structural mastering exercises and other exercises which are close to the communication itself.




The stages of communicative activities in CLT

The picture shows that the stages of communicative activities in CLT are begun from pre-communicative activities to the communicative activities. In the pre-communicative activities stages, the students do not have any motivation to communicate. The learning activities target is to master the structure of the language which is learnt. Alkusyairy (1998) in Promadi (2008: p.55) states that in the pre-communicative stage, the students are trained with half of the communication mastery by giving drilling and asking questions in order to make them have basic knowledge about the language. In this stage, Al-Ribaki (1973) in Promadi (2008: p.55) says, teacher can also ask the questions whose answers have been recognized by the students to make them have possibility to speak or to use the language.

The writer can say that the pre-structural activities as the requirements for the students to be able to recognize and understand then to speak in having communication. How can anyone get involved in a communication if he or she does not know any basic knowledge about the language itself? For that reason, it is clear that pronunciation as one of the basic knowledge in learning a language (in this case is English) is necessary to be understood by the students.

The teacher will present a contextual thing as the material in the teaching and learning activities. The material should be easy to be understood by the learners in order to make them not having problem in the content of the material, so they will just pay attention how they will try to speak (pronounce) about the topic.

The opportunity in practicing the language means that the teaching and learning activities have come into the term of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). The student or learners will increase their pronunciation ability communicatively and contextually.

3. CONCLUSION

Learning by practicing are the key words in learning a language. Pronunciation as a sub-component of language skills is one of a number of serious problems faced by the learners of English as a foreign language. By always taking time to practice it, it is possible for them to be close and closer to the right way to pronounce the words of this foreign language.

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is a kind of approach which can help the learners in increasing their pronunciation ability. The learners have possibility to listen how people speak then to try to recognize the speaking, and to compare with their own way in pronouncing the words or utterances used in the conversation. For example, how they differentiate the sounds between ‘day’ and ‘die’, or between ‘God and ‘goat’.

The approach of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has the same sense with the term of Contextual Teaching Learning (CTL) because by taking the contextual things in teaching and learning process, the expectation to have the communicative activities in the teaching and learning seems to be able to be reached.

4. REFERENCES

Belchamber, Rebecca. 2007. The Advantages of Communicative Language Teaching, An article. Melbourne.

Brown, H. Douglas. 1994. Teaching by Principles; An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. San Francisco: San Francisco State University.

Brown, H. Douglas. 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. San Francisco: San Francisco State University.

Harmer, Jeremy. 1991. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Cambridge: Longman

Hornby, A. S. 1994. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Larsen-Freeman, Diane. 1986. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.

Littlewood, William. 1981. Communicative Language Teaching; An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Promadi. 2008. Pendekatan Komunikatif dalam Pembelajaran Bahasa Arab melalui Kelas Maya. Pekanbaru: Suska Press.

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