One of the things that make language study so challenging is your own language background, and its “distance” from English in terms of grammar, pronunciation and use of vocabulary. For example, Korean, Japanese and Chinese students of English have to study a new alphabet just to get started, and English grammar is always tricky for students from this region.
English is a tough language to learn for many people from Asian countries, and Vietnam is no exception. Native speakers of Vietnamese also have particular areas of difficulty, and it is a good idea to be aware of what they are, why they occur, and how to overcome them.
Vietnamese students are fortunate in that their native language has a similar alphabet to English; instead, their biggest problem is pronunciation.
There is one difficulty in particular that I would like to mention here – consonant clusters or groups (for example, street, contracts).
Questions are a terrific way of opening talk up. After all, we often open conversations with easy questions – How are you doing? Hey, how’s it going?
Today I want you to think about some techniques for making communication go more smoothly. About that…and about tennis.
Think of conversation like a friendly table tennis match: I hit a question to you; you hit me an answer right back. But you need to be relaxed about this. You don’t want to sound as if you’re a policeman questioning a suspect!
Here’s how to promote ‘give and take’ when you talk to someone. The secret is: be aware of question tags, and how they’re used in conversation.inflatable football tunnel
Students often ask me how they can lose their accent when speaking English. I have two things to say on the topic.
My first point is that you don’t want to entirely lose your accent. Accents protect you. When you’re in an English-speaking environment, an accent helps people know that you are not a native of their culture. If you make any mistakes, people are more likely to forgive you.
The second point is, of course, if your accent keeps people from understanding you, then you must try and reduce it as much as possible. Keeping in mind my first point – an accent is not always a bad thing – here are TEN TIPS that will help your pronunciation improve so that your accent does not interfere with understanding. Continue reading →
Is it necessary to get English correct every time?
The short answer is NO! Speaking English correctly every time is a great goal, but it can give students a problem – especially when speaking English.
The problem is that too many students are scared of getting something wrong and this shuts them up. Bad move. Don’t be scared of making mistakes when you speak. You don’t have to be right all the time – you only need to communicate.
Here are three tips that will help you speak with confidence, even if your English skills are not 100%.
When we talk, we want people to understand what we are saying. So pronunciation is VERY important.
Listen to this conversation between a Vietnamese person and an American:
What happened? The American could not understand the Vietnamese speaker because her pronunciation was unclear.
In my experience, both as a language learner and a language teacher, there are a LOT of pronunciation differences between English and Vietnamese. But some problems are more serious than others. A pronunciation problem becomes serious when it interferes with communication.
There are TWO common problems Vietnamese speakers have that I believe are very serious. If you consistently make these errors, people will not understand you.
The IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet. Watch this video to learn about phonemes, and how the IPA can help you improve your English pronunciation. Make sure you have your speakers turned on so you can hear the audio!