In our article, we are going to discuss a variety of ways to evaluate student’s pronunciation and intonation of English. This article comprises limited-response section which is devoted to test beginner student’s pronunciation, after that you are informed to multiple-choice hearing identification (evaluating how well students can recognize the differences in meaning that a sentence can have, depending on how the teacher pronounces various parts of it). The article concludes with a reading-aloud section that shows how to test a student’s pronunciation by having him read something orally.
The pronunciation items tend to incorporate context and meaning. Limited response (individual testing: Oral repetition). Oral repetition is one of the easiest of all exams to prepare. No distracters are needed; no clever sentence frames are required, and no drawings need to be prepared. Moreover, every pronunciation feature can be tested. In fact, in one short sentence, such as «did you say I stole the meat?» we can evaluate the pronunciation of key vowels and diphthongs (/i/, /iy/, /uw/, /ey/, /ow/),important consonants such as the troublesome «th» (or / ð /), vowel reduction (the schwa in «the» and possibly in «you,» which reduces quite often to /yǝ / in rapid speech), word linking (say I), assimilation in the «did» + «you» combination (dijǝ /), consonant clusters (/st/ in «stole»), pitch (notably on «stole» and «meat»), terminal intonation (↑), and timed stress or sentence rhythm. [2; 60]
A better way is not to test for many things at one time. For example, you could check final intonation on questions, including echo cues and question tags. These you can mix so that answers will not be given mechanically:
− Where did she put the pen? ↓
− Is that it in the room?
In order to prepare material to read aloud to the students, teacher can use exercises, dialogues, and readings from books. It is good to give part of an essay or story. When reading the material aloud, be sure to keep normal sentence rhythm. This of course includes joining the words in your phrases and keeping function words unstressed. In scoring this kind of test, listen only for the items marked on the key. Ignore other errors. Give instructions orally and keep them simple.
Group Testing: Hearing Identification
Strictly speaking, the ability to hear and identify various sounds is a listening skill, but good pronunciation depends on how well we hear what is spoken. Therefore, we include items of «hearing identification» as one kind of pronunciation test. These can be simple enough for little children and adult beginners.
Advantages of Limited-Response Items:
- (Oral repetitions) These are very easy to prepare.
- (Oral repetitions) These enable us to test students who can not read yet. Also they do not mix reading comprehension and pronunciation.
- (Oral repetitions) These can test virtually all pronunciation features.
- (Hearing identification) These combine pronunciation and meaning’
- (Hearing identification) These enable us to test students with rather limited language skills. [2;63]
Limitations of Limited-Response Items:
- (Oral repetition) These possibly test aptitude to learn English as much as present skill in pronouncing English
- (Oral repetition) These are time consuming when administered individually. They can be administered in a language lab, but the teacher must still listen to tapes individually.
- (Oral repetition) There is a need for a native speaker to model the sentence.
- (Hearing identification) It is often difficult to think of suitable sketches or find suitable pictures.
- (Hearing identification) There is a somewhat limited number of testing options. For example, consider the difficulty of representing contextualized contrasts of ramble-rumble, weird-geared, cud-could. [2; 63]
MULTIPLE-CHOICE HEARING IDENTIFICATION.
Hearing-identification items can of course be used with students who are literate in their second language as well as with those who are not yet literate. In addition, students who can read some English may be evaluated by using multiple-choice hearing-identification items. These may be in either paraphrase or appropriate-response form.
An Alternate Form of Multiple-choice Hearing Identification.
Sentence completion. (Here, checking the hid/ hit/’ll hit contrast.
Advantage of Multiple-Choice Hearing Identification is helpful combination of pronunciation and meaning.
Limitation of Multiple-Choice Hearing Identification is difficult to prepare suitable distracters.
One of the most important ways of testing pronunciation is to have students read something aloud. It is supplier of excellent control.
There are three points to keep in mind when preparing reading-aloud items:
- Evaluate only one or two points per sentence. It is extremely difficult to be accurate and consistent when checking a number of things at the same time. Student progress in mastering specific sounds, stress and intonation can be tested more reliably if only one or two features are looked at per sentence. For example, this sentence looks at the contrast between the voiced «th» pronunciation and the «d» pronunciation:
− My father feels quite bad about it.
- Use natural language. While tongue twisters and rhymes may occasionally be used in class, our tests should reflect the ability to communicate in more natural everyday language.
− (poor) I scream for ice cream
− (poor) I bought the bread that his brother brings.
- Avoid signaling the point being tested. Often a student can produce a sound correctly if he concentrates on it, but in normal speech he may not do so well. In order, then, to get an accurate measure of how students normally express themselves in English, it is best not to let them know the specific pronunciation point being tested in each sentence.
Advantage of Reading-Aloud items:
− They are easy to prepare
− They provide good control
− They test almost all pronunciation features
− They can test how to pronounce spelling combinations.
Limitations of Reading-Aloud items:
− They are limited to those who can read
− There is not a direct relationship between ability to read aloud and pronunciation in normal conversation. Sentence rhythm is probably least accurately represented with this technique.
There are given some multiple choice activities for teaching and testing pronunciation.
1) Are heart and hurt pronounced the same way?
− No *
2) Are flour and flower pronounced the same way?
− Yes *
The teacher asks students to read these sentences below aloud:
− They lived in an ice house
− They lived in a nice house
− Are you fond of walking here?
− Are you fond of working here? [4, 256]
Wrong pronunciation can cause some serious misunderstanding.
To sum up, pronunciation is definitely the most important thing that people must develop in order to achieve good communication with native speakers. Learning correct pronunciation is more important than learning grammar and vocabulary. Knowing a lot of vocabularies or perfect grammar can not help if people can not pronounce those words correctly. The most noticeable thing is pronunciation during a conversation. Therefore, poor pronunciation makes negative impact on people.
- Hughes A (2003). «Testing for language teaching» Cambridge university press.
- Harold S.Madsen (1983). «Techniques in testing» Oxford University Press.
- Paul J. Black (1998). Testing. Friend or foe? London.
- Соколов: «Практическая фонетика английского языка».