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V. Lectures on the Theory of English Phonology
esponding to this need of students for instruction in English phonology, I developed a series of fifteen 5- to 15-minute "minilectures," one per week for a semester, on the theory of English pronunciation. These lectures are particularly appropriate for university students, whose intellectual skills can lead to more rapid language learning than shown by children, but they would also be good for high school students. The lectures cover the connection between pronunciation and listening, the schwa, the reduction of function words, focus, syllables, syllable-final consonants, consonant reductions, Korean-English equivalents, linking, difficulties arising from spelling, and using Korean letters in writing English. Although they were developed for a pronunciation class and used in conjunction with a pronunciation text and tapes, the lectures are appropriate for any conversation class for high beginners or above.
Other English teachers in Korea have also felt the need for formal instruction in pronunciation. In a paper calling for such instruction in EFL programs, Lee (1997) found that in 30 consecutive 70-minute conversation classes, the explanation (in Korean) of articulation accompanied by repeating from NS tapes for five to ten minutes a class was "effective enough to contribute considerably to improvement in pronunciation." Lee looked at the issue from the production side, citing Brown's (1994) call for "clear, comprehensible" rather than "accent-free" English, not a realistic goal anyway.
Han (1996) looked at the teaching of pronunciation from both the production and reception side, and concluded that the teaching of pronunciation and of listening through pronunciation-oriented listening tasks improved both pronunciation and listening. Han found that students were weak in recognizing contractions/reductions in English, which "strongly reflects the fact that Korean students have received segment-oriented pronunciation teaching" (p. 44). She also found that students with higher proficiency in listening tended to have better pronunciation, which agrees with Gilbert (1993). Because Han's subjects were students in a phonetics class, she also taught them phonological rules, and concluded that "EFL teachers should explicitly raise EFL students' awareness of how English sounds are actually spoken and how suprasegmentals are used to communicate meaning" (p. 54).
Another researcher, No (1997), working with the effect of students adding the vowel as a "finishing vowel" for syllable-final English consonants that cannot be syllable-final in Korean, also concluded that a suprasegmental, in this case syllable structure, was more important for pronunciation rating than the accurate production of segments.
While for Lee (1997) and Han (1996) the medium of instruction as to how English is spoken was Korean (ideal for rapid learning), the lecture series in this study is in English, either by a NS or near-NS. For Korean EFL instructors, who have usually studied phonology, this would at most entail learning to put theory into practice with examples, but most NSs in Korea have no training in phonetics. Han (1996) has called for EFL teachers who have a solid background in both methodology and the sound system of English, so it would be advisable for NSs planning to use the lectures to spend time with a general pronunciation book, such as Prator and Robinett (1985) or Kreidler (1989).