Structure and Meaning in English
eBook - ePub

Structure and Meaning in English

A Guide for Teachers

Graeme Kennedy

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  1. 408 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Structure and Meaning in English

A Guide for Teachers

Graeme Kennedy

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Table of contents

About This Book

Structure and Meaning in English is designed to help teachers of English develop an understanding of those aspects of English which are especially relevant for learners who speak other languages.

Using corpus research, Graeme Kennedy cuts to the heart of what is important in the teaching of English. The book provides pedagogically- relevant information about English at the levels of sounds, words, sentences and texts. It draws attention to those linguistic items and processes which research has shown are typically hard for learners and which lead to errors.

Each chapter contains:

  • a description of one or more aspects of English
  • an outline of typical errors or problems for learners
  • specific learning objectives listed at the beginning of each chapter
  • exercises or tasks based on 'real English' taken from newspapers and other sources.
  • discussion topics which can be worked through independently either as part of a course, or self study

With answers to many of the tasks given at the back of the book, this groundbreaking work provides a comprehensive and accessible textbook on the structure and use of the language for teachers of English.

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Chapter 1
The sounds of English
This chapter gives an overview of the sounds of English and how they are made. The notes and exercises are to help you understand how the sound system works, rather than focusing on pronunciation problems.
When you have finished this chapter you should:
  1. Know what sounds there are in English.
  2. Be able to use phonemic transcription to show that you know how many sounds there are in particular words, and what those sounds are.
  3. Be able to show you understand the relationship between letters and sounds.
  4. Know which are the most frequent sounds and combinations of sounds in English.
  5. Be able to describe the main processes used in making speech sounds.
  6. Know the main differences between consonants and vowels.
  7. Be able to describe how each of the English consonants and vowels is made.
  8. Know the difference between phonemes and allophones.
  9. Know how to read the pronunciation information in a dictionary in order to be able to give advice to learners on how particular words are pronounced.
  10. Be able to show how sounds change in the environment of other sounds.
  11. Know what the main word stress and sentence stress patterns are in English.
  12. Know which words receive strong stress in English and which words do not.
  13. Know what the main intonation patterns of English are and some of the important meanings they can signal.
  14. Be able to describe some of the important differences between the sounds in different varieties of English (e.g. UK, US, Australian, NZ), which result in different accents.
  15. Know some of the main difficulties that learners of English from different language backgrounds have with English pronunciation.
1.1 Speech sounds
1.1.1 Sounds and symbols
Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. We can focus on how the sounds are made (articulatory phonetics), the physics of speech sounds (acoustic phonetics), or how sounds are perceived by the ear and brain (auditory phonetics). For teachers of English, articulatory phonetics is by far the most important branch of phonetics.
The human vocal apparatus is capable of making a huge number of different sounds. Each language makes use of its own small number of sounds known as phonemes which mark differences in the meaning of words in that language. The English words tin, din and some each consist of three phonemes. The words be, bee and pea each have two phonemes. Depending on how detailed the analysis is and the dialect being described, English has about 44 phonemes – 24 consonants and 20 vowels and diphthongs. Some varieties of English acquire more status than others. Such is the case with British ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP). Although it is spoken by perhaps less than 5 per cent of the population of Britain, RP is often used as a pronunciation model in dictionaries and teaching, or as a point of reference for describing varieties of English. In this chapter, the examples used assume an RP-like pronunciation. In Section 1.7 we will consider ways in which other regional varieties of English differ from RP, and thus characterise different English ‘accents’.
The 44 phonemes of British RP are shown in Table 1.1. Each sound is represented by a special symbol. The symbols are based on those used by the International Phonetics Association notation system.
Table 1.1 English phonemes
Special symbols are needed because there are more sounds in English than the 26 letters of the written alphabet. Teachers and learners of English need to be careful not to confuse sounds and letters. Letter...

Table of contents