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In this essay I posit that the Japanese method of pronunciation is a major barrier to effective communication in English.The fear of speaking English with a Japanese accent is a large factor in why Japanese learners of English lack confidence in their oral communication ability.My own students kept using ‘Festival’ to start their essays.
Language learners with heavy accents tend to be poor spellers and those who go abroad can even suffer from discrimination.
The Japanese speakers of English with whom I’ve freely conversed with have spent time abroad in English-speaking countries.
But pronunciation is also about listening; it is not enough to recognise a word in writing, because if you don’t know how it’s pronounced you won’t recognise it when listening to someone using the word.
Spanish learners of English can fail to recognise the word ‘average’ even though it is spelt the same way in both languages.
In this issue of Grassroots Outreach, Robert Smith suggests that pronunciation needs more attention in English language classrooms in Japan.
Shyness to speak can be exacerbated if one’s foreign accent interferes with the speaking of the target language.
Who will understand you if your pronunciation is poor? Yes, the case for teaching pronunciation seems pretty solid, but the reality in classrooms around the world is often very different.
Time and time again, when I give talks and workshops on pronunciation, teachers confess to me that what I’ve said has been enlightening, but that sadly they don’t have time for pronunciation in a syllabus that is already busting at the seams.
If left unaddressed, Smith warns that an accent problem can lead to poor spelling, unintelligibility, a reluctance to communicate with native speakers of English, and even discrimination when students travel overseas.
Teaching Pronunciation in Japan Accents are one of several important elements that contribute to the intelligibility of speech.