1 Teaching Spelling rules I. What does Spelling have to do with teaching pronunciation? II. Characteristics of English spelling A. It s alphabetic, i.e., letters correspond to sounds B. But it s not purely phonetic as is Spanish or Italian C. English spelling does, however, show regularity D. English spelling caters to the reader over the speaker E. English is highly visual, making new vocabulary easy to learn F. Roots of words are always spelled the same 1. Sign /sayn/ and signal /signəl/ sound different but look similar. Whereas sine denotes a different semantic family of words. A NNS seeing signature for the first time could make a logical guess. 2. English: execution, executioner Spanish: ejecuciớn, verdugo G. Some symbols used in writing = combination of two or more letters, forming a single sound: (th, gh, ph, ck, le, ch, ng, tch, sh, qu, wh) Composite symbols G. Some symbols (letters) used, not as sound value, but to signal shift in sound value of other symbols, e.g., silent e Ex.: sine, cage, ice H. Position and surroundings of critical importance Ex.: gh can = /f/ but only at word endings
2 Some Spelling Rules to Live by I. grammatical endings always spelled same (ed, ion, ing, al) will never appear differently II. Words with similar sounds appear, visually, differently. A. Homophones (e.g., sun/son; meet/meat) that have no semantic link will appear different, despite identical sounds. Would/wood, won/one, unrelated in meaning. B. Inconsistencies (violations of phonetic system) are result of preserving semantic consistencies for reader We have lots of homophones, but very few homographs (read/read) III. 17 out of 19 consonants have regular one letter to one sound correspondence A. Twelve only one letter:sound correspondence (d, f, j, m, n, p, r, v, x, y, z, t) B. One sound, though occasionally silent (b, h, k, l, w) bomb, honest, knee, could, two. IV. Doubled consonants keep their same sound value (ebb, odd, ruff, egg, call, inn, stopping, purr, mass, putt, jazz, & tobacco, unless followed by e: accept V. /th/ in function words always voiced. (the, this, that, those, these).
3 More Rules of Spelling V. Positional rules for composite symbols A. ck, le, tch, ng never at beginning of words B. Qu, wh, never at end C. Ch always uses major sound /tƒ/ at end of words (church) VI. Positional rule for single sound c Cell, certain, place, dance, city, cycle, policy, cent Cat, catch, cup, cry, coin, call, cake, came, could Vowels VII. Rules for Vowels in monosyllabic words Letter sound 1 sound 2 a /ey/ (hate) /æ/ (hat) e /iy/ (Pete) /ε/ (pet) i /ay/ (mine) /І/ (mitt) o /ow/ (note) /a/ (not) u /uw/ (cute) /Λ/ (cut) A. If followed by single consonant, column 2 (hop, bat, bit, nut, kit, sit, set) B. If followed by two consonants, column 2 (rest, past, must, cost, half, bulb) C. If followed by consonant and then e, column 1 (cake, side, joke, mute, while) when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking
4 More Spelling Vowel Rules VII. Single vowel in polysyllabic words A. How do readers know that single /a/ in relation is pronounced as /mate/? Or that e is /iy/ in Pete but /ε / in depend? Rule: count number of consonants following vowel, exclusive of suffix. If one consonant, column 1 Ex. In depletion True for a, e, o, u B. Rule for I : Always short in syllable prior to suffixes having i in it: ion, ial, ious, ian, ia, iar, io, ior, ium, ius, iate, ient, iant, iary, iable
5 Sources of NNS problems using our spelling system to pronounce words 1. If L1 also uses Roman alphabet, may often have different sound for symbol E.g., German v stands for /f/ 2. NNS whose L1 doesn t use Roman alphabet will have to adjust to spelling conventions E.g., In Japanese, symbol represents syllable, not single sound 3. Over generalization, particularly for Spanish, Italian speakers used to one to one correspondence 4. If NNS can t hear sound, will misspell it. Ex. Japanese: largers for Rogers Spanish: mass for math.
6 Impact on teaching ESL A. Make sure learners can distinguish vowel letters from consonant letters B. Learners need to be able to identify affixes: prefixes and suffixes C. Learners must be aware of syllables and identify how many in a word
7 Some Teaching suggestions (from Joanne Kenworthy, Teaching English Pronunciation 1. Self-discovery of rules Ask students to read aloud two lists of words. When they recognize that there are two sounds for c ask them to discern the rule: List A List B Cell certain cat catch Place dance cup coffee City cycle cry coin Policy cent call cake Decide cinema came cost 2. Learning about one value sounds for composite consonants Read aloud a list of words for students and ask them to write down how many sounds they hear for each word. For example Queen (3) quit (3) prolong (5) ringlet (6) mock (3) black (3) photograph (7) whip (3) when (3) stretch (3) wheat (3) usher (3) shop (3) cash (3) Then, using a list of consonants, vowels, and composite consonants, ask them to match what letters stand for each sound. E.g Qu ee n pr o l o ng M o ck r I ng l e t Bl a ck ph o t o gr a ph Str e tch Wh ea t U sh er Sh o p 3. Learning about position constraints on English words Look at a list of nonsense words and ask students which break the rules of spelling and thus could not be English words Miqu lowh meewh whipson whaply whoy Thock queep shasting plick ckall nequilt Nooqu ctacho tchert fitch phit upsiph Ling ngurt mang nong phatter (variation play scrabble)
8 4. Silent e rule Give following pairs for oral practice: cut/cute, pip/pipe, fin/fine, man/mane, etc. Then, give them only one part of the pair, and ask them to produce the other member. E.g., us/, /hope, sin/ 5. Discovering the rule of single vowel letters in polysyllabic words Using a list of words with vowel letters a, e, o, u in the stressed syllable and have students read them and identify whether the vowels are using their name sound or short sound and place them in the appropriate grid: Sample words: relation, collection, action, explosion, completion, discussion, confusion, option A e o u Name value Relation explosion confusion Short value collection Step two, for each word, have students mark the suffix and indicate the stress. E.G., re LAT/ion ACT/ion OP/tion con FU/sion 6. Play pronunciation bingo (see pronunciation segmental handout)
9 Predicting Stress some generalities 1. 90% of all two syllable nouns stress on first syllable (oven, orchid, lampshade) 2. 60% of all two syllable vowels on second syllable (begin, relate, consign) See noun/verb pairs (conflict/conflict; perfect/perfect insult/insult) 3. In three syllable words, the stress usually falls on first or second syllable (instrument, calendar, vanilla, astonish) 4. Compound nouns very regular first syllable stressed (boathouse, lighthouse, classroom) 5. Reverse stress pattern for noun clauses, e.g., he bought a white house. It was a blue bird (color, not species). 6. Words with suffixes of Latin/Greek derivation = predictable pattern. For ity, ic, ical, and tion, stress is always on the syllable before the suffix: commune to community; economy to economic; electricity or electrical; populace to population.
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