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04

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QW 042812 “Definitely Vowels”

"Definitely vowels” said the tutor when asked to cite the areas that I’d need to work on to improve my pronunciation of English. My initial reaction was: Again? It sounds very common advice often heard from native English teachers. I needed personalized advice, not the ones in general!

My desire to improve my pronunciation keeps recurring from to time, and now is the time. Recently I’ve obtained a software to record conversations on Skype, which enables me to listen to the actual speech of tutors and me. The way I spoke during interactions always fails to meet my expectation and makes me completely disappointed. Such disappointment also makes me ashamed how I over-evaluate my speech in English in every aspect. I asked, then, a tutor who I consider is one of the most qualified teachers for me to learn pronunciation from to read an assigned discussion article aloud for me as a model speech in order for me to listen over and over, imitate, and learn from. When I explained my target and wishes in detail, he said to me: There are 15 vowels in English whereas there are only 5 in Japanese, which makes it complicated for Japanese learners to pronounce English properly. You have no problems consonants and intonation. In fact, even non-advanced students can pronounce consonants as they’re supposed to sound. Through my observation, you need to polish the way you pronounce vowels.

I think I know the mark of hopeless students: Learners who wouldn't even try considering what their teachers said that seems irrelevant to them at the first glance. Honestly, I’ve diagnosed my problems in terms of pronunciation in different ways than the tutor told me. I said so during the lesson, but some time later, I reconsidered and decided to follow his advice: The area that I need to tackle first is vowels. I’ll focus on how to pronounce vowels properly until I see some improvement. In order to do so, I’ll need to identify my target, the way I want to make my vowels sound to begin with, and the gap between the target and my current pronunciation. Yes, my English learning life goes on.

(40 minutes / 362 words)

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Aya

Author:Aya
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