Pronunciation Problems : Problem

Words that seem to cause Spanish speakers problems; Problem

// is used to denote a phonetic spelling

[] is used to denote a picture that might help the learner pronounce the word more clearly

{} is used to highlight what I hear a learner say

My learners are aware that it is unusual if anything written between the above marks matches the way the word is spelt in English.

All of the following have caused a number of my students pronunciation problems and the solutions I have found to work for those problems (so far).

When I try to change a speakers pronunciation I attempt to give him/her something visual as well as something aural.

Problem – often pronounced as prolem

Solution – write {pro lem} on the board

– write [prob blem] under it

– change colour of pen

– write [probblem] under neath.

Face the learner and point at the board say prolem, then point at the second word and say prob blem as two words, then point at the third word and say problem as one word, but make sure the two syllables are sounded seperately. Encourage the learner to utter the words in the square brackets [prob blem], then get them to repeat the word three or four times, then move to a two syllable pronunciation.

When the learner repeats the wrong pronunciation just write [prob blem] on the board, they will very quickly self correct. I usually attempt to get the learners to say the word correctly three times for every time they say it incorrectly – they need to unlearn the wrong pronunciation. There are times when I will save up a few prolems for later correction.

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2 Comments

  1. Harry
    Posted 04/07/2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve recently found with the modal Would a number of my students simply can’t get the hang of it. Saying either gould or even could. I came up with a couple of solutions. For the Spanish learner writing it as Guould helps as GU has the W sound in Spanish. I also point at a desk in the classroom and ask what it is made out of. This usually creates a nice link for them and the word is rarely pronounced incorrectly after that.

    • Posted 04/07/2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I had a similar problem with a student who Was better When he told me What trees Were made of.

      Mine still like to pronouce the l so I often writ:
      would …….. [woud] …… wood
      could ……..[coud]
      should …….[shoud]
      I use the square brackets to indicate this is not the correct spelling of the word – sometimes I just write the word on the board with the silent l very small and in a different colour – anything to make it stick.

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