The paper deals with examples of effective EFL activities, improving student’s foreign language pronunciation through English tong-twisters within Tomsk Polytechnic University environment that contributes to the development of future engineers’ EFL speaking skills.
Key words: pronunciation, tong-twisters, consonant and vowel sounds.
English language pronunciation can be difficult for students. To come close to native pronunciation learners must engage in activities that allow them to both differentiate between the sounds and reproduce them. Repetition is a key, so these types of exercises should be repeated plentifully.
The author’s discoveries are based on the value of authentic tong-twisters usage for pronunciation and speaking practice with Russian, Altai, Buryat, Uzbek, Tuvan, Yakutian EFL learners within Tomsk Polytechnic University EFL classes.
The first language students speak is the one that will set the tone for their English pronunciation. Understanding students’ native language will help teacher to select the areas they need to work on. The trick is to identify the problems caused by the first language, and then teacher can choose the best tongue twisters to work with.
Tongue-twisters are an effective way to practice and improve EFL pronunciation and fluency. Tongue twisters can also help to improve accents by using alliteration, which is the repetition of one sound. They’re not only for children, but are also used by actors, politicians, and public speakers who want to sound clear when speaking. If engineering students master them, they will be a much more confident speaker.
Some of the more common issues for EFL students include:
Aspiration: in English, we use a small expulsion of air to enunciate some letters: “P” or “Ch” or “K”.
Mouth Shape and Tongue Position: many foreign languages require different mouth shapes for words. Students should know where their tongue needs to be and how to shape their mouth.
Throat Vibrations: in English, certain sounds make the throat vibrate: saying “g” and “k.” While the mouth is exactly the same for each of these, they sound different. This can be difficult for students to differentiate .
The authors incorporated tongue-twisters into engineering students’ EFL classes and found them to be very effective in improving consonant and vowel sounds.
Tongue Twister Examples.
Eddie edited Earl’s easy music
Gooey gopher guts
Excited executioner exercising his excising powers excessively
Annie ate eight Arctic apples
An orange oval spooks the odd operative
An awful aardvark and an aching ape ate an antelope.
2. Consonant blends.
She sells seashells by the seashore
I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen
I thought I thought of thinking of thanking you
Slim slam slap
A big black bug snoozed on a big black rug
He threw three free throws
Thin sticks, thick bricks
Fred fed Ted bread and Ted fed Fred bread
Definitely there are the pros and cons of tongue-twisters. Pros. Tongue twisters help the students:
а) gain awareness of their pronunciation problems;
b) focus on and tackle these problems which leads to quick improvement;
с) build a new muscle memory;
d) improve listening skills.
Cons. Tongue twisters:
a) can be boring especially in a classroom as different students have different problems;
b) require a lot of patience and repetition from the teacher and therefore can be time-consuming and impractical in the classroom.
The authors find using tongue-twisters useful for speaking lessons, however the authors find them helpful as an assessment tool.
The teachers may chose a specific tongue-twister with the lesson plan aim of working on a particular sound and discover that they need to do more work on particular sounds: such as “p”, “b” and “t” in the below example:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
Betty Botter bought some butter
But she said the butter’s bitter
If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter
But a bit of better butter will make my batter better
So ‘twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter
When a twister twisting would twist him a twist,
For twisting a twist three twists he will twist;
But if one of the twists untwists from the twist,
The twist untwisting untwists the twist .
The results of the interview after engineering students’ tongue-twisters practice revealed that:
87 % of respondents indicated that they were able to overcome the fear of pronunciation in a foreign language;
93 % of respondents stated that they improved EFL pronunciation and speaking skills. Thus EFL learning improvement with the help of tongue-twisters could be one of the effective methods to help students adapt in EFL environment.
Experienced EFL teachers generally know the problem areas students will have with different sounds before starting the lesson and can have a back-up plan for incorporating these trouble areas in the current lesson or make note of them for future classes.
Engineering students practicing tongue-twisters at EFL classes felt that using tongue-twisters for pronunciation was an effective strategy for them.
1. Tongue Twisters that Will Improve Your Students’ ESL Pronunciation. FluentU English Educator Blog. [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа: http://www.fluentu.com/english/educator/blog/esl-pronunciation-tongue-twisters/.
2. 50 Tongue Twisters to improve pronunciation in English. engVid. [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа: http://www.engvid.com/english-resource/50-tongue-twisters-improve-pronunciation/.