Monday, 29 June 2015

Discussions--Series Seven--ELT Professionals Around the World

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Discussions—Series Seven
Topic 44
Good pronunciation skills ( producing intelligible language ) is key to every ESL student’s ability to communicate in English. So, why is it a neglected area in the ESL classroom ?
mia khalifa English Faculty at Higher Colleges of Technology-CERT Top Contributor

Despite the importance of English pronunciation , there is no place of it in the curriculum and there is no systematic approach towards its teaching.

HURRAY! I'm "TOP 1%" YouTube To view our teachers' video introductions http://youtube.com/user/EnglishTutor100
Top Contributor

You are SO RIGHT, Mia. "English teachers" are obsessed with teaching the meta-language of English-grammar - and they are extremely ineffective in both!
Christine B.mia khalifa and 1 other like this

DM (Admin & Training) at Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation
Top Contributor
We can achieve nothing without working hard. We can't become successful English teacher over night. Anyway, the discussion is timely and interesting as well. Learning and teaching good skills of pronunciation is indispensable for communication in any language, let alone English. We should teach pronunciation skills to the ESL students attaching much importance so that they can use English for effective communication. Otherwise they'll remain inefficient in other skills of the language. If we love a language, we must be careful to use it beautifully in all respects.

English Language Teacher at Cappadocia Vocational College
Top Contributor
I believe that pronunciation is practical, and should not undergo stages of teaching. Personally, I do not teach it in the classroom. However, everyday I open a sentence, randomly or selectively from the dictionary, then I ask the students to read it for the purpose of pronunciation, not anything else. Finally I play the sentence so we can hear the exact pronunciation. You will need a good dictionary on your laptop that plays the sentences like The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
mia khalifaKM Abdul Mumin and 1 other like this

Yes, those electronic dictionaries are really good sometimes.
I studied Chinese at one point, and was lucky to have understood the pinyin alphabet, which is in our own English letters, but of words in Chinese. It's pretty much exactly a phonemic alphabet.

Me
It's not true as far as schools in Thamizh Nadu a South Indian state are concerned. The English syllabuses and the course books for classes 7--12 do contain regular practice in the pronunciation of monophthongs, diphthongs and consonants, stress and intonation. This is continued at UG level as well. And the Received Pronunciation is what is used to help learners.

But it's most difficult for us to practise the distinction between the vowels in 'cot' and 'caught', to pronounce the diphthongs in 'go', in 'chair' and in 'there', to pronounce the 'u' in 'curious', to aspirate 'k' or 't', to distinguish between 'v' and 'w' for we don't have these sounds in our language and also because we don't hear them spoken around us. Even I find the vowels and the diphthong difficult to pronounce but have managed to be intelligible to American and Britishers while in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

So I don't know if accuracy in pronunciation of vowels and consonants is possible in nonnative environments.
mia khalifaKM Abdul Mumin and 1 other like this

Kolipaka, I have to disagree with you. Your teachers are focusing on "dipthongs" and other pseudo-language, instead of focusing on forming the letters and in understanding them in context.

For example, the difference between "cot" and "caught" are NOT significant. I would NEVER be caught sleeping in a cot, another night in my life!!!
KM Abdul Mumin likes this

I agree with Will. "The difference between "cot" and "caught" are NOT significant. I would NEVER be caught sleeping in a cot, another night in my life!!!"
We should focus on forming letters and in understanding them in context.

<'chair' and in 'there'>

I would present these as /(ch)er/ and /(th)er/.
KM Abdul Mumin likes this

<"cot" and "caught">

I sort of see what Will is saying. I think it's sort of like the atom being the smallest unit of matter. But then there are the electrons, protons, et al. I think it provides a sounder foundation to start instruction with these subatomic particles.
btw I pronounce 'cot' /kat/ (U.S. English).

Independent Writing and Editing Professional

There's a wide range of acceptable pronunciations in US English. In some regions, people pronounce "caught" and "cot" the same way.

There's a big difference between pronouncing English so that you can be understood (which has as much to do with rhythm and intonation patterns as it does with individual sounds) and getting hung up on minutiae.

My experience (teaching in the US) is that students who can basically be understood wind up obsessing about their accents, while students who CAN'T be understood plunge blithely onward, not realizing they have a problem.

Great Comment, Monica! "My experience (teaching in the US) is that students who can basically be understood wind up obsessing about their accents, while students who CAN'T be understood plunge blithely onward, not realizing they have a problem."

That just about sums it up, for me, too.

It is quite clear there are many programmes for the teaching of ESL often dependent on the target learners needs and ages. Personally, I see the teaching of pronunciation as indispensable in a teaching programme, but it would be part of the holistic programme. As Monica has pointed out, it is important that students "can basically be understood", so we shouldn't be hung up on a "perfection" that does not really exist. However, there is a great deal of difference surely between what our students learn and what our programme of study should be designed to offer them. The programmes of study that I have seen do deliberately introduce lessons in pronunciation at their various levels of complexity for the student ( for example, building on consonant and vowel knowledge and moving towards blends, diphthongs etc). This ensures students are all given the opportunities to move at their own pace while being exposed to the target so they know where they are headed. This is only one aspect of the exposure students need. As Mohammed has pointed out, the teaching of pronunciation is also practical, and therefore benefits from being taught incidentally. And as Will has pointed out, this focus would be meaningless if it was not grounded on the "context".
Unlike Will, I have seen many instances of effective English teachers using effective programmes to develop their students literacy, pronunciation being just one aspect of this.
Daniela V.mia khalifa and 2 others like this

english teacher at Synergy International Training and Testing
Top Contributor

Hi Mia, I am a strong advocate of Pronunciation in the classroom and also when I mix with friends in the teaching industry. In the last 10 years I have taught in a number of asian countries. The main reasons that I have found are: Local teacher has a poor knowledge of spoken english. Country of origin language to strong or slurred for listeners to understand. Students have no interest in target language, no resources is very common in many countries. Teachers unwilling to improve their skills, buying tapes or CD'S to expensive. Yes there is the internet but many students and teachers dont care, lack of practice.
In ESL we are probably in one of the most difficult branches of education, so it should be a personal challenge or commitment in your style of teaching.

In Indonesia one of their most common words is " APA " it means "WHAT " I use this on my students almost every lesson until they get the message.
mia khalifa likes this

Frank , you a strong advocate of Pronunciation in the classroom , you are my friend then!

My students like pronunciation classes. Pronunciation classes are not hard at all.
The other day I showed my pre-intermediate class a short segment of the two Ronnies British show ' Fork handles' and they liked the way the English link the sounds. 'fork handles' sounded like ' four candles' .
Carissa Peck likes this

Me
Hi Will
I was responding to the question in the discussion and the difficulties we Indians seem to have in learning pronunciation of the English sounds that put together make meaning.

I don't follow your statement:'instead of focusing on forming the letters and in understanding them in context'. Will you please elaborate? Thank you.

<minutiae>

I teach the standard English from U.S., standard for teaching purposes if you will, or standard because it is my own pronunciation. Many students want pronunciation, so I feel obligated to learn its composition and pedagogy. The base for pronunciation is the unit phoneme.

<their vocal organs do not permit them to produce accurate pronunciation>

Few students have this ability at first. There are minimal pair listening exercises to discriminate the sounds aurally; phoneme repetition to acquaint the vocal apparatus to individual sounds; then word and phrase pronunciation and intonations.
If you or your students have a problem with a particular sound, there are anatomy and physiology charts that go quite in depth with pronunciation problems.
Gangadharan N. likes this

Chief Coordinator at NSS Academy of Civil Services
As a teacher of English, I tell my students to listen to the BBC news broadcast for half an hour regularly so that they can, to some extent, familiarize themselves with correct English pronunciation. Of course, I teach them what you call 'the rules of stress', like all monosyllabic nouns are stressed, articles are not stressed, etc and also the the phonemic symbols. But however hard we try, we cannot speak English like a native speaker. We can, at best, sound intelligible/legible to the native speakers of English.
mia khalifa likes this

Hi Mia some more good news for pronunciation. Today I started a new class of 40 students, part of my getting to know you is calling the class role and becoming familiar with student names. This was a great opportunity to make them aware of the importance of pronouncing their names correctly, and trying to analise the names origin. My students are Indonesian. Lots of fun and laughter when changed into western style. I enjoy teasing them and it didn't take long to create a happy mode in the class.This is the first step of making them aware of good pronunciation and it will become easier with continuous reinforcement.
I have found this method effective in positive reinforcement for low self - esteem.
Caterina C.mia khalifa and 1 other like this

I have missed all the fun then! This is the way I teach pronunciation.

Thanks Frank for sharing your experience with us.

English Professor
Top Contributor
I, personally, don't feel like an expert as pronunciation. That's why I held back on teaching it until recently. I know grammar. I know writing rules. I know reading. I don't know pronunciation.

Nonetheless, I have found some ways to incorporate it into my class (mainly through humor) and am reading a lot to get better.

I have read a lot of studies that suggest pronunciation IS a part of curriculum. It is part of speaking and listening. It is simply that teachers shy away from this.
mia khalifa likes this

Please , please Carissa, can you share these studies with us ? ( links, books etc..) Thanks.

Remind me in two weeks :) I have to finish a curriculum by Friday and then do another one next week, so I don't have time to sort through to find them now. Sorry!
mia khalifa likes this

<speak English like a native speaker>

Please don't give up. Perfection is always two steps ahead of us.
Caterina C.Hala Fawzi and 1 other like this

Why 2 steps ahead Nelson ? I would say 1 step ahead of us !

I can sense the stress of pronunciation rippling through the thread. The complex world of diphthongs, sarongs and the other ong words. But alas and alak, no mention of one of the single, most best and superlative ways of clarifying an accent. " SINGING." One of the best renditions that I have heard came from an Indian look a like of the one and only ELVIS PRESLEY. THE COORS an Irish group that is most difficult to understand when speaking, but listen to them sing. ADELE, sung by a local Indonesian girl. Close your eyes and you cant pick the difference. Her normal voice is bad Indolish.

If you haven't tried it yet then give it a go. Put on your favorite english artist and crank up the volume.
Does a woman screaming sound the same in every country, almost identical. If you dont believe me have a screaming competition with your students.

Frank - I fail to see how you have proven your point. You said that this singer "is most difficult to understand when speaking," How has their singing helped their speaking?

<2 steps ahead>

Maybe it's just one step. Still, I remember last year, when I thought I had learned everything, but noooo, someone wrote another book.
mia khalifa likes this

<a screaming competition>

I think I'll do this. I'll invite the next-door teachers, and maybe the principal. I should get a promotion afterwards.
I taught Love Me Tender to some middle-school students in China (Hefei). I didn't even notice their accents. The other local female English teachers all got goosebumps.

teacher at Lg. Ins.
Hi there! Teaching pronunciation!
There are some course books that work on pronunciation from the beginning, like American English File series, and make students aware about stress and intonation. at the first days it's a little weird, specially when there isn't such thing in their L1. but gradually they seem to be absorbing. there is another issue too; sometimes our teachers lack a good pronunciation skill, so he or she can not be a good model for students.

In my classes I always insist listening to 'authentic language', and speaking aloud for themselves at home. We also have some sheets that we deliver to students at the beginning of the course and they should write how much time they spent listening to English material.
mia khalifa likes this

Teacher at Taos Municipal Schools
Teaching pronunciation is so important. Being able to model language correctly is an asset for any student wishing to speak "good" English. It is, also, important that students are informed about choices, such as regional styles of pronouncing words. Finally, student's hopes should be acknowledged, in terms of teaching how to pronounce words and phrases, according to meaning, and with a reasonable consideration of their future goals.
Nelson Bank likes this

There is a proper place for teaching pronunciation, however, teachers need to decide what is an appropriate method, and what amount of time they can spend on this. Would you teach student's to pronounce phrases over words? Which do you consider of greater relativity in teaching, British or American English? It is not enough to teach static word pronunciations. One must consider meaning, and offer up context, for speaking appropriately, according to situations.
mia khalifa likes this

Associate Tutor in the DL MA in Applied Linguistics programme at University of Leicester

SLA research to date suggests that teaching pronunciation is largely ineffective. Very few people indeed who speak English as a second or foreign language do so without an accent, and studies done of teacher intervention (see, for example Doughty & Long (2004) Handbook of SLA) show poor results. The question is surely: Does it matter? And the answer is that it matters to the extent that it interferes with comprehension. Prosodic features are key here, and there's some evidence that these can be taught.

<a good pronunciation skill>

I can help! But I need someone to put up a website with embedded sounds.

<teaching pronunciation is largely ineffective>

We really need to hone this skill in English teachers. Ask students if we need to.

Thanks Geoff for the question and the answer.
" Does it matter? And the answer is that it matters to the extent that it interferes with comprehension. Prosodic features are key here, and there's some evidence that these can be taught."

I'm conducting Action Research to explore whether drawing students ‘attention to English stress and intonation via authentic listening materials such as, dialogues, monologues and short segments from films can assist them in understanding spoken English and enhancing their oral intelligibility.

Can you please share studies, name of authors supporting that prosodic features are key here, and there's some evidence that these can be taught? Thank you.

Hi MIa, I'm VERY sorry, but I just can't remember the details of a really good article by Schmidt and somebody else about teaching prosodic features to EFL students, which reviewed the research literature. These might help:

Gilbert, J. 2008 Teaching Pronunciation Using the Prosody Pyramid. CUP.

Schmidt, Anke-Elaine, and Brechtje Post (under review). The development of prosodic features and ambient language effects in simultaneous bilinguals. Special issue, Language and Speech.

Jenkins, J. 2004. Research in teaching pronunciation and intonation. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics.

Thanks Geoff.

<Does it matter?>

Giving up matters. If your students have the ability to mimic native pronunciation, you should give them instruction in the subject, if you are able.
If you are a non-native teacher and think pronunciation is valuable and would like to embark on the process, you should do it.

The reason why some of the students do not pay much attention to the good pronunciation of English is that their teachers do not motivate them for that with their own pronunciation, which by all standards is not up to the mark. Most of the teachers even do not know phonetic symbols, and as such cannot refer to the dictionary for the pronunciation of any particular word from the dictionary. Quite a big chunk of teachers teaching English in India, have no ELT background, and so they teach English the way they think proper and not in the way they are expected to. Regionalism in India is yet another factor which stands in the way of teaching-learning good pronunciation. Neither the teacher nor is the student motivated to hone his or her pronunciation. J.K.GANGAL
Gangadharan N.mia khalifa and 1 other like this

Editor, Your English Supplement (Yes) & Tutor, UNED
I would suggest that the reason why pronunciation ends up being neglected is that there is practically no word in the English language that has one correct pronunciation, almost all have a range of pronunciations, which depend on the variety spoken, the register and other factors. Obviously, there are the extreme cases, such as "Byzantine", which is meant to have 12 possible pronunciations (or something like that). On the other hand there are words which the same speaker will pronounce regularly in different ways. A typical British one is "again" ('agen' or 'agein').

So, the role of a good teacher is to point out unacceptable pronunciations that are outside the range for a specific word. What tends to happen is that the teacher will teach, and insist on her/his variety's pronunciation as the correct one. New teacher, new set of pronunciations.

Hi JK. The worst thing that a teacher can do is to foist one of the 3 or 4 IPA phonics charts on somebody trying to learn a language. Depending upon which chart is used - there are from 30-50-some-odd different phonics.

I am American, and I grew up in America and learned "English-grammar" in America. I was FULLY FLUENT AND WELL-SPOKEN, when I walked through the doors of my first "Grammar School". (Yes, that is what they called them - back then!) My English-grammar teacher taught me that there were exactly 2 (two) sounds for English vowels. Long-vowels and short-vowels. Guess what! 98% of the American English speakers understand me perfectly. (Yes, the other 50 or more sounds do exist - but I learned those one-by-one, as I needed them - mostly by listening.) That is what I teach my English students and they all master at least 98% of the English pronunciations.

For the other 2%, they have an advantage that I didn't. There are hundreds (or thousands) of web sites where they can look up a word and listen to it being spoken by a native speaker (without the IPA phonics symbols).
mia khalifajagdish G. like this

EAP Pre-sessional Tutor, EFL Teacher, Author, and Life Coach
Top Contributor
I feel there a couple of reasons why pronunciation is often neglected. The first is for many teachers it seems one of the hardest things to change. Think about it, a speaker has probably been speaking that way for a long time and has an accent to contend with.

Working on pronunciation requires different skills than those for other kinds of teaching. The work done on pronunciation requires repetition and many teachers think it is boring or hard. I think this is wrong because small parts of a lesson can be used to work on one important aspect of pronunciation and students do appear to like this.

Another reason is that we often don't think about how we make sounds in a language or how the actual rules of pronunciaiton work (linkage and so on).

It seems easier to most teachers to give grammar rules and vocabulary lists rather than work on pronunciaiton.
mia khalifa likes this

Radical English Teacher TM
Lots of great comments. I like Clarissa's bold "I don't know pronunciation" which ties in nicely with Karl's "It seems easier to most teachers to give grammar rules and vocabulary lists..."
I think the problem has a lot to do with definitions. Pronunciation has been inextricably tied to applied linguistics and IPA, which have proven to be not helpful for learning English and accent reduction, which has proven to be largely unnecessary unless as Geoff mentioned "matters to the extent that it interferes with comprehension."

What learners want to do is SPEAK ENGLISH and we now understand this has very little to do with applied linguistics or accent reduction. Students want the information and confidence to be able to express themselves in the flow of normal conversation. What are those skills? When you look at it that way the task is fairly simple. What are the patterns of conversation that all children discern and build upon on their own (in the sense of without a teacher). As Will reminded us, we were all fluent before we went to school. What did we figure out on our own before we went to school such that we taught ourselves conversation skills? That is what students need to know and so far few teachers have figured that out. Sadly, the teachers who have solved the riddle are often discounted and dismissed out of hand.

<Neither the teacher nor is the student>

You can use a simplified phonemic alphabet with 36 sounds of English to improve pronunciation for teacher and student. National Unity in Language has this simplified phonemic alphabet, and it's IPA-based.
Coincidentally, I'm the director of NUL.

<the other 50 or more sounds do exist>

I only teach 36 sounds. This is well handled by students. I think the threshold of manageability for students is about 40 characters in a phonemic alphabet.
Some of the individual sounds will change a little bit, depending on what sound comes before or after it, but I don't teach all of those because the vocal tract will automatically produce them when put next to the different sounds surrounding the phoneme we're studying. So the phonemes I teach won't include each sound's allophones.
These phoneme exercises are high-intensity, fun, and engaging.

English Instructor, Curriculum/Materials Developer

Teacher-as-Model. Your students will "model" your pronunciation, instinctively.

While teaching English in Korea (2007-2008), my daughter studied Korean at YBM Sisa for six months, followed by another year of formal language-exchange lessons with Korean peers. When we moved to Thailand (for my CELTA certification), the country was besiged by an airport strike, and I couldn't return to offered employment in Korea. The wife of my daughter's art teacher directed me to a "vacancy" at a private Buddhist academy where I was offered employment. My daughter, then, continued private Korean lessons with a Korean neighbor who is a professional language teacher (She "homeschooled" sophomore and junior years: and this language met her requirement for USA diploma). At this new job, I met a native Korean co-worker who told me that she was astonished at the authenticity of my daughter's Korean pronunciation. Not knowing Korean, I had no way of knowing how well she was doing; but, my co-worker and I attributed her pronunciation skills to her studying with native Korean speakers.

In Paris (1991-1994), I met and spoke with educated French people during my tourist-capacity rounds of museums, concerts, walking-and-gawking, etc. After my daughter was born there, she was Christened at a local church, where I continued speaking French in an international fellowship that met there, regularly. Since, I've been told by Europeans that my French accent is close to Parisian: which I attribute to the company I kept (people who spoke the language correctly: native speakers who happened to be lovers of fine arts, workers, pension/hostel owners, undercover officers and regular policemen, mothers watching our children play in the parks, clerics, and church members).

As for teaching pronunciation in English classes, having 1) worked in musical theatre and 2) paid much money for professional vocal instruction in a previous-life (15 years); I, automatically, include pronunciation enhancement in lessons, using voice-lesson-learned techniques for "L1 Interference" problems (which I learned during Dr. Paul Robertson's Asian-EFL Journal TESOL Certificate and TESOL Diploma studies -- that depending on the region: Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Arabs, etc. have different L1 Interference pronunciation issues due to the structure of their "mother tongues.").

Significantly: here, in Saudi Arabia, our Prep Year Program students are remarkably missing the rolling "r" sound that many Arabian English-L2 speakers struggle with: they have daily "modelling" by qualified English language instructors from South Africa, the UK, USA, Pakistan, Krgyzstan, India and The Philippines; even from American-educated and UK-educated Saudi language instructors. Instructor pronunciation-modelling is "key" to overcoming student pronunciation issues, I believe.

Me
Hi Sheila
'...a native Korean co-worker who told me that she was astonished at the authenticity of my daughter's Korean pronunciation. Not knowing Korean, I had no way of knowing how well she was doing; but, my co-worker and I attributed her pronunciation skills to her studying with native Korean speakers.'

' ...I've been told by Europeans that my French accent is close to Parisian: which I attribute to the company I kept...'

Your daughter's success and yours happened because of 'immersion' and an innate ability to pick up languages naturally, with ease and comfort. I want to add a third dimension-- you and other participants in this discussion may be amused. I wouldn't wonder if you did. And it is this.

I served in Ethiopia for nine years and I couldn't communicate--with my neighbours and my landlady, at the market, at the shop, at bars--without Amharic, the official language. Picking up Amharic wasn't difficult because I was willing learner, I listened to it outside my residence, my colleagues and students were eager to teach me. This satisfies the two conditions I've already mentioned.

But they all said in one voice that I 'sound'ed like a native Amhara--perfect in every sense of the word, and I wondered how this was possible because I learnt Amharic from people to whom it was only a second language. The only possible explanation I could think of was I must have been an Amhara in some previous life.
Judy Thompson likes this

English Instructor, Curriculum/Materials Developer
Dear KR:

I wish that we had some special abilities, but I have Saudi students, along with their middle- and high school age siblings, who speak near-non-accented English AND Korean. They seek opportunity to study (films, music videos) outside of class and to converse with native speakers, likewise.

On an amusing note, I have read stories of people who suffered brain trauma and woke up speaking another previously-unlearned language, however! Are you familiar with this transference phenomenon?

P.S. My Korean friend, who lives in Saudi Arabia, has given "Korean Language Club" to some of my English students. So, it is SHE who has determined that they speak Korean adequately ... (I don't know nuthin' 'bout speakin' no Korean!). On a final note: I am, now, helping her Korean friends to find native English tutors for their children in international school here!

[Please let me clarify that I was, earlier, referring to a previous "professional" life, as a thespian, within my present lifespan of 57 years.]

My daughter came home from an 11 month student exchange to Brazil fluent and accent-free in Portuguese. Immersion is the secret. Plan B is English class but our students don't achieve fluency or anything close. Accent-free fluency in a second language is possible for adult learners, but we aren't achieving it in our classrooms today. Mia's question really speaks to this conundrum. Either we avoid teaching pronunciation or we teach individual sounds (that don't lead to fluency either). There are a few patterns that children and immersion students pick up that provide a model for fluency to grow organically.

I lived and worked in Korean and I do know something about Korean.
1) It is logical. Each and every symbol represents one and only one sound)
2) It is sound-based. Each sound and syllable are equally important, which give the purring sound when Koreans speak.
3) Consonants and vowel alternate strictly (no consonant blends) inside syllables
4) Words and syllables begin with consonants so syllables can be either CV, or CVC (It is the easiest way for humans to speak and is totally compatible with the rules of English Linking)

Those are the rules or patterns that are always true in Korean. That map makes Korean easier for learners. There is a map for teaching English and there are 6 rules for speaking English. How much difference do you think it would make for your students if you told them the simple rules that are always true of English?
Shelia Ann Peace likes this

<we teach individual sounds>

I choose . . individual sounds, using a one-to-one character-sound correspondence. Then we can teach the allophonic variants when two phonemes are put together. I still don't feel confident that the allophones would be automatically produced when a student puts two original phonemes together, but it might work.


Sheila Ann isn't cool to know the underpinnings of a language? Seeing Korean or any language trotted out in its simplest form gives one a yardstick by which to compare the target language.
1) English isn't logical and letters don't represent sounds - they can't 40+ sounds, 26 letters.Teachers have to manage that disconnect mindfully.
2) English is stress-based. That is why there is so much latitude for accents, individual sounds aren't that critical only word stress is.
3) Koreans and Asians in general have a hard time with consonant blends and now we can see why and address that effectively. English also pronounces final consonants. That is sometimes useful information for Asian students.
4) Regardless of how word units are printed, English speakers follow the same CV, CVC pattern as Korean (and Chinese and Japanese...) "Can I have a bit of egg?" sounds like "Ca nI ha va bi da vegg?" So number 4) is the same in Korean and English we just have non-speaking spelling, but we knew that already.

Nelson, so far the individual sound focus hasn't worked but it is always your choice.