How can I Improve the Pronunciation and Intonation of the first-year English Majors? Draft by Cao Yong, Guyuan Teachers College, Ningxia, P.R. China. November 20th, 2003.

 

Context:

Some background information about me. I became a teacher of English in 1997, for students aged from 12-18. Two years later I went on to further study in Ningxia University to get my Bachelor degree in Linguistics. I have been teaching in Guyuan Teachers' College since October 2001. Here I could realize my dream to do some research on my beloved course - Linguistics, especially Phonetics.

 

I am very keen on music and poems and this helped me a lot when I began to study English at the age of 12. To mention what I have gained and achieved, I am so grateful to my English teacher, Wang Qiaoling. She was a top graduate from Shanghai Foreign Language Institute and very fluent in spoken English. This helped me a lot with my basic knowledge of English, and this also helped me considerably when I engaged in the advanced English study instead of spending that time correcting pronunciation and intonation. And often, this is the most difficult thing for English learners in China.

 

In my opinion, to be a good English teacher in secondary schools, the key issue is to make the children learn English by listening and speaking in the way they learn their mother-tongue. This helps them to have fluent second-language acquisition in oral English. Above all, the most important part of learning a second language rests on pronunciation and intonation. And this has concerned me most from the very beginning of my teaching-career. This special background gave me different perspectives and influenced my point of view about how to guide students in their English study as a second language through their three-year-study here in this college.

 

However, this is not the only thing that has encouraged me to focus my attention on their pronunciation and intonation. Namely, the situation has changed enormously during the last decade, especially since lots of the graduates from universities are now faced with the competitive job market. This derives from the government policy of enrollment expansion four years ago throughout the country among most universities as well as some colleges. We have more graduates from universities each year. In contrast, the students of our college face an even more gloomy future. What can they do to adjust themselves to this new situation? Just keep to the old ways and gain nothing, or as teachers take some action to promote their professional skills here and after their graduation from this college, be sufficiently well trained to become competent in their posts or begin their further study for an even better prospect?

 

I have reflected on these problems and tried to find some solutions. During these reflections, I realised that the college was also trying to address this problem and focus more on the vocational sphere. I could see some light at the end of the tunnel. Not all the students could go to a job-fair; not all the students could get his Bachelor degree, but the point remained that there is a large demand for certificated primary school teachers of English, so the teaching syllabus of our college has been modified to meet this demand. Most graduates of our college will take their position as the elementary school teachers of English. Concerning their professional skills and primary schools teaching aims and the practical way of teaching English in primary schools, pronunciation and intonation become vital in their college study. In other words, they are supposed to be the "short-term-trained phonetics experts" to give their students correct spoken English in order to help them form an appropriate way in second-language acquisition when they are still at a stage to put in this special language learning ability in the process of a second language learning, which on the other hand, affects their thinking in English.

 

In order to help the English majors in my class express themselves in as clear and accurate way as they can, basic knowledge of phonetics and pronunciation is very important to them from the outset. If they don't know how to pronounce each word or sentence in the right way, this is sure to lead to the failure of communication or even commence a vicious circle in which they will begin to teach their pupils or students 3 years later. They still have a long way to go before they can master English and use it well as a tool to communicate with native English speakers. Furthermore, in order to do more research work, basic knowledge becomes even more important as the world is now changing so rapidly. Actually, to be a college student, the major courses they receive from their teachers are not enough for them to be qualified to meet the standards of the employers.

 

What we are able to do now depends on what kind of knowledge they have and what kind of potential ability they could have in their own future personal development. They are sure to get further study in the future. What can help them to improve? Only an appropriate attitude and the basic knowledge for a long-term career. An appropriate attitude means that in the general sense, they should regard second language-learning, ¨C English, as scientific and systematic study and not take it for granted so they think they’re already good enough in their spoken ‘English C’ pronunciation and intonation.

 

When I interviewed them after class, Shao Hui, one of my students, told me that a good standard of English was ‘sounding English’ which refers to those who can speak good English just by the acceptance of their classmates through the standard of being ‘good to listen to’. To be a teacher of a language, I think it is really necessary to help them to change this point of view.

 

“Pronouncing a language is a skill. Every normal person is an expert in the skill of pronouncing his own language; but few people are very proficient at pronouncing foreign languages. Now there are many reasons for this, some obvious, some perhaps not so obvious. But I suggest that the basic reason why people in general do not speak foreign languages as well as they do their native tongue is that they fail to understand the true nature of the problem of learning to pronounce. Far too many people fail to realize that pronouncing a foreign language is a skill ¨C one that needs careful training of a special kind, and one that cannot be gained by just leaving it to take care of itself. I think even teachers of language, while realizing the importance of a good accent, often neglect, in their practical teaching, the branch of study concerned with speaking the language. So the first point I want to make is that English pronunciation must be taught; the teacher should be prepared to devote some of the lesson time to this, and get the student to feel that here is a matter worthy of receiving his/her close attention. So, there should be occasions when other aspects of English, such as grammar or spelling, are allowed for the moment to take second place.”

( Language Teaching on New Horizon English, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press 2002)

 

We are living in the community in which there is always someone ready to care about his fellow men, to the individual or in the sense of our motherland. And I know when we are together, we have politics around us, nobody can deny it. And it is also a matter of fact to me. When my work on “AR” was on its very beginning, the news that we became the member of WTO and the successful bid on ’2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as well as the Western Development Policy brought me the great confidence to work on my teaching of English. These opportunities will no doubt offer a market of English brains and a new wave of learning English will soon be spreading throughout the country in the near future. When I have this reflection at the bottom of my heart when I had a chance to read the comments from Zhou Yan, who made the instructions on the book The Elements of Language Curriculum of teaching English in the new century, “A nation wide policy that the popularization on the communicative ability of English will soon to face the citizens of our country, and in turn, the policy is sure to provide a broadening vision to those curriculum designers and reformers of English teaching in China. Nothing but qualified English curriculum designing project is the essence aimed at improving English teaching level and carrying out the reforms on English teaching.” Her words are full of hope and enthusiansm to encourage me to believe that I can do it and I can take teaching English as the most distinguished career that I have ever had. Sweet and hope in my heart, a blueprint then come across my mind --- to work on English teaching and explore my own value. So, chances are given to me, what is the next, Action, of course (Action Research).As the Chinese idiom says “everything is ready for the east wind.”

  The following is the detailed information what I think of for a long time as a language teacher:

 

1. Good knowledge in spoken English. This can help them speak good English and can also help them form good basis on further English study. Pronunciation plays an important role in its spelling, grammar, and even the meaning of a sentence. Literature shows us panoramas of ancient masterpieces, the knowledge of phonetics can help us read them freely. And from the spelling we also get to know the changes of English through the history.

2. This is to give them special training to teach their pupils English in the right way without Chinese accent or Chinese way of speaking English, for better and accurate communication.

3. Some certain skills on language study in order to overcome language problems. This will be achieved under my guidance. II. Actually, I began my pronunciation and intonation project on my students in September, 2001. Because of my preference on linguistics, each week I tried to teach them the right pronunciation of the international alphabets (6 per week) and correct them one by one. At this time, I met Dr. Moira Laidlaw, a new foreign teacher in our college who was facilitating some of the teachers in our department to do "Action Research".

 

I was so lucky when I began my project as a green hand: AR came into my life. The first day when I heard of it, I knew, it would constitute wings for me. This makes my idea of improving their pronunciation and intonation come into a scientific focus, and under the guidance of a theory. I also know many people from different countries around the world are doing the same kind of thing. I feel very happy and lucky to be a member of AR here in China. In this way I began my work under AR. Thus, I have my first question:

 

What do I want to improve?

How can I help to improve the pronunciation and intonation of my students?

 

What are the reasons for my concern? The reason why I want to do the work can be listed as following steps:

 

“Nevertheless, we have noticed what mentioned above and we now are so self-conscious to take our efforts for any progress and leave far behind what our so-called conventions in teaching. And to improve on purpose, we are supposed to consult the advanced methodology and borrow their effective measures for our own.”

His statements made me reflect on our own teaching of English as a second language. We, to some extent, are the teacher he refers to, but luckily, with the development and open policy to the outside world as well as the easy access to some modern teaching approaches of western countries. (e.g. “AR” introduced by Doctor Laidlaw from Great Britain), we have changed our mind to meet the demand of society, and for a better situation of our teaching here in Guyuan. I am a professional teacher of language, so I want to have fresh air to make my work step onto a new stage, and I have been trying to change, not only me, but my students --- the coming future junior English teachers. Because I know, “AR” is doing on circles, and my teaching career is involved on the processes within these circles. I enjoy teaching English and thus I care about what is happening to it.

 

How can I improve it?

When I touch this question, I come to realize what Anthony (1965) ,Richards and Rogers (1982) and Mckay (1978) commented on the essential aspects of teaching a language: approach, methods and technique. “Approach here refers to the knowledge of linguistics and the nature of language teaching; methods refers to the various ways to show the students the characteristics of a the aimed language; while technique refers to what kind of skills and knacks can be employed to organize teaching as well as solve the problems raised in the teaching process.”

So, my “AR” work is based on these three aspects in language teaching. And in my practice, I also follow the words of Brown on practical teaching of a language, approaches, syllabuses, techniques and exercises (28-29).

1. Helping them in each conversation is a good way to set up confidence in them.

-           a. I read and present the conversation in the right pronunciation and intonation. I try my best to give some good examples of how to do a conversation by saying each word and sentences in the right way according to my teaching experience and knowledge on phonetics. Some students asked me to teach the new words and phrases to make sure of their pronunciation. This shows they begin to pay attention to their way of speaking English and become interested in spoken English. When it came to their turn to practice conversation, they wanted to intimate my way of speaking English.

 

Li Yufang said in her interview that she followed my way of speaking English. Later on, three times, she asked me to give them a lecture on pronunciation and intonation, and she asked me to help her about certain specific questions such as the difference between [n]and[ŋ] and this is the universal problem that people here say  [ŋ] to substitute[n]  in Guyuan dialect but she was scrupulous in telling the difference between them. She also asked me several questions on how to improve her intonation.

 

I then gave them a short lecture to make sure everybody had chance to hear how to correct their pronunciation and intonation she was finding in her speech - such as the tone level (static tones, kinetic tones, the high level tone, the low level tone, the high rising tone, the low rising tone, the falling tone, the falling-rising tone, the divided falling-rising tone). It seems that the more information I gave on English pronunciation and intonation, the more questions they had. Actually, this is what I wanted to see. One reason is that, at least my students were able to begin to pay attention to the way they were speaking English and started to form a scientific attitude to learning a second language on their own part. They wanted to be trained to be good English learners but not dreamers to dream only that they would be able to speak English well in their opinions. And some other similar cases came to me when Li Shujing asked me some other questions (the differences between [ai][ei][e][æ] and [w][v] ).

 

Li Zhi , another student, asked me to give him some advice on his pronunciation and intonation. I asked him to read a paragraph and then I corrected his pronunciation mistakes and showed him the right way to do so, and I also let him know how to stop in the right way to make sense of his speech and to be easily understood by others. And some other students asked me questions at any time when they met me. To help them warmly as they were on the way of taking my focus on pronunciation so seriously, I saved some time at weekends and evening class to visit them for further explanation, and talked with them on pronunciation and intonation heart to heart. Not only did we share the theory of phonetics but also the value of caring about their own strong points and concerns about what we needed to do to become better qualified teachers with good pronunciation and intonation ---- a good example to our students in language-use in other words.  

 

-           b. Playing tape-recorder for them to follow. From the tapes, they got to know standard English pronunciation and intonation. They could listen and follow for good English.

c. Student-centered conversation practice. In this way I wanted them to practise speaking in the right way after my detailed explanation on how to pronounce each word and the intonation pattern they should use here.

 

- d. Grading their conversation. This gave them the comparison and contrast with others and could be used to mark if they have made enough improvement or not. Everyone wanted to get high scores. Grading motivated them to participate in their conversation practice aimed at improving their pronunciation and intonation..

 

e. Writing down their pronunciation mistakes and correcting them after their conversation. This is the most effective way that can help students know where they mispronounced and then to correct them. Because I told them I would grade their conversation for their pronunciation and intonation, they paid more attention to their pratice. I noticed that they began to pronounce in the right way. e.g. Three in[¦بri:] but not [sri:], how in[hau] but not [ho:]long[loŋ] but not[l¨¤ŋ] want[wont] but not[w¨¤nt] what [wot]but not [w¨¤t]won،Ýt[w] but not[wnt]don’t [dunt]but not[du] .They began to pay attention to liaison such as ‘take it easy’, ‘warm up’, etc..  

 

f. Asking them to read the text before the detailed study of each paragraph in order to check if they can read it in the right way and thus form the habit of speaking good English.

 

g. When it comes to answering questions, I asked my students to read the sentences for the first time and then the second time to fill in the blanks or correct the mistakes of the sentences. The first time I tried to correct their pronunciation and for the second time I heard the right and the anticipated situation of reading or speaking English in a reasonable way.

 

h. I spared 2 hours each week on purpose to do the unit revision by asking and answering questions. By doing this I could check if they had mastered the right pronunciation and intonation of some new words in each unit. At the same time, I would remind them of the right pronunciation of some everyday words, when they still had some pronunciation difficulties with them.

 

i. Asking my student to give advice on their classmates' pronunciation and intonation. This is another important way to check if they themselves know how to pronounce in the correct way and to give them the further suggestion of paying attention to their own way of uttering a word. I talked with my students and I got to know that roommates often helped each other, as they had most contact with each other on a day-to-day basis. They learned at odd times. Zhang Yinping said she helped a lot with Yuan Lu’s oral English problems. Because of Zhang’s help, this explained my sense why Yuan Lu had improved in a quicker way in her pronunciation and intonation.

  

j. Asking good students to be the partners of those who lag behind in speaking good English. Before they presented their conversations, they were to ask their partners to correct all the pronunciation and intonation beforehand. In the first place to help those good students know something about phonetics to help others. And at the same time the students who were under help could learn everywhere when they met. Such as in the dormitory, in class, or going shopping, in the dining-room, etc.

 

k. Finding and correcting mistakes was applied throughout, although there is no such thing as a perfect person. I advised my students to try to find what are the others' mistakes in pronunciation and intonation as quickly as they can. I told them, let all the mistakes appear when they are students, but not when they become teachers in the secondary schools.

 

l. Some sentences are really difficult to read for most of the students. So, I usually spare some time to stop and give them some explanations and then ask them to repeat after me.

 

Who can help me and how? There is no doubt that we need some others to help us in order to make our work and research go smoothly and stably. Some excellent teachers and those who are good at phonetics are my partners in helping me with my research work. I told them that I was doing AR on pronunciation and intonation of English majors, and I asked them to give me some information from them. Jana Thompson was the oral English teacher of my class and she did a really good job. She told me some mistakes from my students. Then, I corrected them immediately that day or the next day when I had class in my class

 

Often, I discussed the students’ mistakes with Tao Rui (Tina) because she is good at spoken English and she is a teacher of phonetics in our department. Take for example, [p] and [p], [n] and [l] are easy to distinguish in her class, but to some students here from dialect regions, they have trouble in telling them from each other. This is what I want to show to my students for improving their pronunciation. To make my pronunciation and intonation AR research work well, I asked her to give me some suggestions on it. And at the same time I asked her and Dr. Laidlaw to attend my class. I believe the communication with my colleagues gives validity to my work. I often try to learn from my colleagues about phonetics to help me acquire some other knowledge on phonetics. This has been done by:

 

  1. talking with different teachers, Dean Tian, Jana Thompson, Tasha Bleistein, Zhao Xiaohong, Jiang Hongxia, Wang Ying, Li Peidong, Ma Jianfu.

 

b. reading materials about linguistics and getting on the internet for further information:

 

“Besides the question of the time given to pronunciation, there are two other

requirements for the teacher: the first, knowledge; the second, technique.         

 

It is also possible to get a clear mental picture of the relationship between the sounds of different languages, between the speech habits of English people and those, say, of your students.

 

Unless  the teacher has such a picture, any comments he may make on his students’ pronunciation are unlikely to be of much use, and lesson time spent on pronunciation may well be time wasted.Language Teaching on New Horizon English, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press 2002

 

c)     watching English News from CCTV-4, Shanghai English News, Sichuan English News, and Zhejiang English News. The announcers speak very good English, I learn from them and I then share them with my students.

 

d. listening to the radio, such as BBC News in the morning and at 12 o'clock Beijing Time.

 

e. my own understanding and experience from studying linguistics and phonetics. I believe that only co-operation enlarges our skills to present an even better job in our classes. This is partly due to three foreign teachers, Dr. Moira Laidlaw, from U.K., Jana Thompson and Tasha Bleistein from U.S.A. They are natives from English-speaking countries. I asked them to come to visit my class and check if my students have made some progress on their pronunciation and intonation or not.

 

When will I know that it has improved?

Before I can answer this question, I conceive that “A variety of potential tools were also listed in six categories: existing information, tests, observations, interviews, meeting and questionnaires. All these tools shared three important characteristics that must be considered in selecting or creation them: reliability, validity, and usability.” Brown (1995)

 

This helps me to form the scientific way to evaluate my records and gained information.

 

I. Grading scores of their conversations show me that their pronunciation and intonation is improving. Some their scores remained in the high level for the whole process of my research work on pronunciation and intonation.

II. Tina’s comments. I asked her to come to attend my class to view that if my students have improved their pronunciation and intonation or not. Here we read her comments after visiting my class from 2:30 to 4:30 on March 6, 2003:

 

Content:  Unit2 Football (Revision)

Unit 3       Conversation Practice

Time: March 6, 2:30 -- 4:30 p.m.

When I listened to his class, I noticed that he taught his students conversations in the following way:

1. He would read the conversation

2. Then ask students to listen to the tape

3. Stimulate the students to practice their own conversation

 

There are some many good points in his lesson:

 

1. He has built up a good relation with his students, for they are active and be ready to learn. In other words, the students didn’t feel bored when asked to repeat or imitate something.

2. His pronunciation and intonation is really good, no mistakes at all. So his students are influenced well by him.

 

(It can’t be true, actually. I can’t be as accurate as a machine, but I am a man, like others, born to make mistakes. And I know is, I often make pronunciation and intonation errors. However, I try to do better and I think I am trying to approach ‘perfection’, although there is no perfect person in this world. Thanks to Tao Rui’s comments about me, I am encouraged, and in turn am motivated, as she highlighted her class as well as my AR work.).

 

3. I noticed that compared with other students in other classes, his students’ pronunciation and intonation are really better and on the way to improving, so I think he is successful when fulfilling his question --- How can I improve my students’ pronunciation and intonation?

4. Another thing is, I found his students are eager and active to imitate his pronunciation and intonation, I think it can also prove something.

 

Tina (Tao Rui) is one of the best teachers of phonetics in our department. It was she who made me believe that my AR on pronunciation and intonation would work. She was glad to hear that and wanted to help me in any way she could. She became my learning-partner in finding the problems of pronunciation and intonation our students had in common, and she gave me some very good ways of how to solve some problems I was most concerned about. For example, she created a good way to make the students distinguish [n]and [l] --- to hold one’s nose between one’s fingers and try to stop the flow of air out of one’s nose: this can help a student just pronounce [n] but not [l], for [n] is a nasal sound. Thanks to her effective ways of correcting the pronunciation of some consonants, my students Li Jei and Wei Chengbin can now pronounce them in the right way.

Brown said in his report on needs analysis (1995):“The information we have got provides a useful starting point for developing or evaluating a language program. I should stress, however, that data have little meaning in themselves. Data must be analyzed, interpreted, and evaluated before the resulting information can be applied the practical realities of curriculum development.”

 

So to me, I have my own information and I try to give a clear picture of it.

 

III. My students’ scores of phonetics tell me that my work is in effect. Among the best top students of phonetics who gained the highest marks, my students ranked in the first position. (See Appendix) I make the final statistics on Students Score Record on Phonetics by two terms.

 

The First Term:

Class:     Class 1         Class 2        Class3          Class4          Class5         Class6

 

Students

Score above    0                    1             1                   3                   0                  0

90%      

 

The Second Term:

Class:        Class 1         Class 2         Class3  Class4          Class5         Class6

 

Students

Score above  1                   0                  0                  0                   0                   0

90%                  

   

Students

Score above   3                   1                  7                  4                   2                    1

80%

 

Class 1 and Class 3 are top students who get the highest marks at their College Entrance Examination and Proficiency Test of dividing them in to the fast classes (the advanced classes). Class 2, Class 4, Class 5, and Class 6 are at the same level, belonging to the slower classes. My class is Class 4, and the students whose scores are above 90 are just 3.This is better than Class 2 of one student, Class 5 and Class 6 of no high-achieving students at all. And they were even better than the students from Class 1 and Class 3 (the advanced students classes). In the second term, my students still ranked high in number than Class 2, Class 5,Class 6 and again, compared with the advanced classes , my students proved to have the same level as those top students in Class 1 and Class 3 on their pronunciation and intonation. So the students are influenced well by the him.

 

This gives us the evidence that my AR on pronunciation and intonation helps my students to become English majors who are good at their pronunciation and intonation from the under developing state towards a developed one. They received good scores in the final examination of phonetics to a certain level. 

 

When we refer to meetings, Brown said “These meeting had three useful functions:(1).helping us to efficiently gather information on the students’ views of their language and situation needs;(2).aiding us in dissemination information (including the teachers’ views on various curriculum issues) to the students: and (3).providing vehicle for venting any student discontent and anger before it could become destructive. In short, these student representative meetings provided a way to make the students understand that they had voice in the program and a stake in its success.

IV. My interview of all the 27 students in my class said that my AR on pronunciation and intonation worked well of the past year (September2002 --- September 2003). They said they learned a lot on various aspects of phonology, such as :

 

A. The systematic knowledge of International Phonetic Alphabet

B. The speech organs and how they work.

C. The classification of English speech sounds

 

Vowels:

1.         front vowels, central vowels, back vowels

2.         unrounded vowels,rounded vowels

3.         diphthongs

 

Consonants:

1.   stops, fricatives, affricates, liquids, nasals, glides

2.   bilabial, dental, alveolar, palatal, velar, glottal

 

Tones:

        Static Tones:

                           The High Level Tone

                           The Low Level Tone

 

        Kinetic Tones:

                               The High Rising Tone

                               The Low Rising Tone

                               The  Falling Tone

                               The Falling- Rising Tone

                               The Divided Falling-Rising Tone

                            

Li Zhi, a second-year English major (one of my former students, now in a new class) told me in our interview that he could hear the mistakes of pronunciation and intonation of his classmates who came from other classes, which he had overcame a year ago. He mentioned that his classmates would say frank [fræ¦اk ]and mouth[mous], foot [fut ]and so on.

 

Li Yufang said she once pronounced interesting as[in،Ýtristi¦ا], but now she can say it correctly and she said she had formed a good habit to look up right pronunciation of a word when she is not certain about the correct way to pronounce it. All the students in my class agreed that my AR work focusing on pronunciation and intonation gave them deep insights into how to change their incorrect ways of speaking English. A year later, when they were divided into different classes, they realized they had obtained some very basic knowledge for their further development in English. They felt lucky that they had been trained to pay more attention to their pronunciation and intonation and the result was that they wanted to continue to improve them day by day. They also agreed my AR work had brought them the benefit of gaining the potential of becoming a good English teacher in primary and middle schools in their future lives. In addition, this also became a priority, they said, in their new classes - to participate well in their conversation and speech practice based on good pronunciation and intonation. I attended their classes and my records showed that their pronunciation and intonation are better than other students (in a common sense, my students have fewer mistakes of small everyday words and are good at intonation).

 

V. Questionnaire that I want to use to get some evidence (to be done this week under Dr. Laidlaw’s help). (See Appendix One for draft questionnaire before trial.)

 

What I want to say before my AR on:  ‘How can I improve my students’ pronunciation and intonation?’ comes to an end:

 

During the process of improving their pronunciation and intonation, on the one hand, they did well in conversational practice, but on the other hand, they lost their intuition of making free talk according to specific topics. Though their pronunciation and intonation is getting better, their conversations didn’t make good sense. That is what I am concerned to improve during my next cycle:

 

How can I help my students to improve their conversational skills? I am now writing my essay of ‘how can we cure the ‘dysphasia’ of English majors in our department?’ I want them to be good English speakers with good pronunciation & intonation and conversational contents rather than the ‘nonsense makers’ in good pronunciation and intonation.

 

3) During the interview, I also got some other information.

Li Yufang‘Pronunciation and intonation practice gave us good sense of language learning ability ,both for English and Chinese.’

 

Yang Jinge:  ‘It is very interesting to learn that English pronunciation and intonation can be illustrated through the knowledge of music notes. I love your way of teaching phonetics very much. I will tell my students of it and make them love English in the future.’

 

Shi Wenjuan: ‘The presentation you demonstrated to us of conversations proved a good way to open our mouth to speak English and practice our pronunciation and intonation. But now I don’t have such a chance and I became timid to answer teacher’s questions and seldom speak English .I love your way of doing conversations to practice our pronunciation and intonation.’

 

Li Zhi: ‘I now have much confidence to say English, because I know the exact pronunciation of a word and intonation of a sentence.’ He was awarded the prize as the most diligent student for the last term’s study and won the top scholarship. He was also said to be the fastest one who made much progress on his pronunciation and intonation.(Zhang Yinping, Yang Zhijun, Shao Hui, Ma linghai, Li Shujing and Zhang Ruijun nominated him as the person who had made the most outstanding improvement on  pronunciation and intonation in my former class whereas Li Yufang was made the best one who can speak very good British English --- Dr. Moira Laidlaw also sang high praise for her performance when visiting my class on March 6, 2003.)

5.I found that some students are greatly influenced by their dialect; they need work harder on their pronunciation and intonation to meet the standard of a good English speaker. Li Zhi could change his old habit to say English well and clearly, and the others could also achieve this goal. He was made the good example from which to learn.

 

6. Personal value is very important in improving one’s work. Some students have a big-city superiority complex: they don’t think their pronunciation and intonation have problems, and it turn out that their pronunciation and intonation are still at their original level. This makes us reflect on this problem before we can apply AR- concerns to them or we will have achieved nothing in the end. I always believe in the ‘attitude decides all’ principle. If we don’t want to change something inwardly, how can we hope to make any improvement on their pronunciation and intonation?

 

References:

Dai Weidong, He Zhaoxiong, Hua Jun, A concise Course on Linguistics for Students of English, Shanghai Foreign Language Educational Press (1988)

 

Tony Ghaye,  Action Research: Book Three. Creating Cultures for Improvement: Dialogues, Decisions and Dilemmas, Hyde Publications (1995)

 

*Pam Lomax, Dimensions of the Educative Relationship: Case Studies from Teaching

and Teacher Education, Kingston University (1997)

 

*Ye Mangsheng, Xu Tongqiang, The Outline on Linguistics, Beijing University Press (1982)

 

Yu Jie, The Distinctive Function of English Intonation, Hai Tian Press (1991)

 

*Zhou Yuzhong, How do Natives in Ningxia Learn English, Ningxia People’s Educational Press (1999)

 

*James Dean Brown, The Elements of Language Curriculum: A Systematic Approach to Program Development, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press. Heinle & Heinle/Thomson Learning Asia (1995 by Heinle &Heinle Publishers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A. Questionnaire from My Report on How to Improve the Pronunciation and Intonation of the First-year English Majors in Guyuan Teachers College,
Nov.18, 2003, by Cao Yong
 
1. What are the differences between your former level and present level on your pronunciation and intonation?
 
2. After a year study on your integrated skills, do you think there are some beneficial points that you have after our concentration practice of pronunciation and intonation in class? What have you obtained and what haven’t you?
 
3. What are the potential problems you still have to solve after the practice on your pronunciation and intonation in my class?
 
4.  In what ways do you think the conversational practice is a proper form to help you with your English pronunciation and intonation in my class of integrated skills? Do you have any good suggestions for me to improve your pronunciation and intonation?
 
5. What are the strong points of our attention and focus on your pronunciation and intonation?
 
6. Compared with the students in your present class, what are your strong points and weak points concerning pronunciation and intonation?
 
7.  How much progress do you think that the students in our former class have made? Give reasons for your answer.
 
8. What are some of the points of view of your friends and the students from other classes towards our AR work on pronunciation and intonation?