Monday, January 30, 2006
Oane, tou, sri, for
I give up. Pronunciation is notoriously difficult to teach (and learn) and I spend a lot of my working life correcting the usual "z"s for "th"s and "ee"s for "i"s. Some learners are so convinced that you don't need to pronounce the "h" at the beginning of a word that they don't even bother to write it, so I get this sort of thing to in essays "I ear the bells". On the other hand, they are often tempted to slip an "h" in before a vowel at the beginning of a word, as in "I hate my dinner". It's an uphill struggle and made all the more difficult by the fact that most of the students I come into contact with have been studying English for more than eight years and the mistakes are fossilised. It's really important to be exposed to correct pronunciation models from the very beginning.
It looks as if things are not going to be getting any better. Yesterday, while reading to E., I discovered this handy pronunciation guide in which the blessed Dora the Explorer (she speaks heavily accented English in the French version) recommends that the little people say él-lo for hello, sri for three, and for for four. No, no, no, no no, no, no. Dora is a dunce.