As learners of English as a second language, we should aim for the accent that is easy on the ears. That is, when we speak in English, people understand us easily and find our ideas interesting instead of being jarred by our accent. Achieving this goal isn’t easy since ‘the accent that is easy on the ears’ implies the reduction of foreign accent and approximation of the local, in our case, the American accent.
To help you master pronunciation, this course employs the methods of phonetic comparison and phonetic consistency, as used by school teachers, speech therapists and speech-language pathologists in the US. Phonetic consistency means listening and repeating the same sounds in many different linguistic environments. Phonetic comparison means comparing phonemes that sound similar to the ears of ESL speakers. These vowel pairs and consonant clusters can sound similar to many ESL speakers.
/i/ - /ɪ/,
/ɛ/ - /æ/,
/ʊ/ - /u/,
/b/ - /v/ - /f/ - /p/,
/d/ - /ð/ - /θ/ - /t/
/s/ - /z/ - /ʒ/ - /dʒ/ - /ʃ/ - /tʃ/
/r/ - /l/
To produce these sounds correctly, you first have to hear the sameness of the same phonemes and the difference of different phonemes. And that’s what we will do in this course.
This course is co-taught by Dr. Nanhee Byrnes (ESL speaker) and Dr. John Byrnes (native speaker).