К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2005
Автор: Смит Р.
of pronunciation in EFL classes has not always been as high a priority as other
aspects of teaching English. In the past in most countries, it did not really
matter if the sounds of the new language were authentically produced, since any
contact with the foreign culture was most likely very limited. Today, oral
communication has become much more important because of the ever expanding
opportunities for face-to-face contact with native speakers. World-wide
communication is now available to even the remotest parts of the world.
especially true in the country of Kazakhstan. The fall of Communism
brought many changes to the former Soviet Republic, including
the freedom and openness to previously forbidden contacts with the outside
world. The new found freedom has provided renewed expressions of culture,
heritage and language. While the resurgence of Kazakhstan nationalism
grows, there is also a need for them to operate within the world community.
English in Kazakhstan can be both
rewarding and challenging. This article presents the challenges of teaching
English phonology in this relatively new republic.
of the Russian and Kazakh languages is discussed to provide clues for points of
needed attention in pronunciation teaching. This contrastive analysis reveals
areas of differences between English and these two very different languages and
shows the most likely trouble areas the students will encounter related to
preliminary evaluation will be made as to what are the best approaches to
teaching pronunciation in Kazakhstan. It is assumed that the
teaching will be done in institutions of higher learning and in training
classes for teachers of English. It is the ultimate goal of this article to
give general and practical insights and suggestions to effectively and
efficiently teach phonology in Kazakhstan.
the Russian and Kazakh Languages
have found that if they analyze and study the phonological system of a language
that they are teaching and compare it to the native language of the students,
they are able to teach the foreign language more effectively. Contrastive
analysis allows them to focus on the ways in which the phonological systems of
the two languages differ” (Edwards and Shriberg, 1983:8).
in Kazakhstan is such that
both the Kazakh and Russian languages would need to be analyzed, since, in
1995, the new constitution stipulated Kazakh and Russian as state languages (Olcott,
Analysis of the Russian Language
Russian is an
Indo-European language and belongs to the Slavonic branch of that family. It is
written in the Cyrillic alphabet, using 23 consonants and 10 vowels. Two of the
consonants “ъ” and “ь” (hard and
soft sign) do not indicate any sound. They show how to pronounce the preceding
or the following letter.
Russian vowel sounds are all similar to English vowel sounds, with the
exception of “ы”. It should
be noted that the Russian vowel sounds are pronounced more open than in
English. Most Russian consonants are pronounced slightly more forward than in
English. For example, the sounds [t] and [d] are dental and [s] and [z] are
created by touching the tongue to the top edge of the lower teeth. One Russian
consonant is not formed in English, щ, and is pronounced [∫t∫] as in
“fresh cheese”. There are two groupings of consonant sounds in Russian, often
known as “hard” and “soft”. The “hard” sound is the normal formation, while the
“soft” sound is pronounced as a palatalized velar, with a raised tongue
position. English approximation examples are talk and costume; body and beauty.
there are no consistent rules for stress patterns and, especially, there is no
secondary stress. Vowels are pronounced differently depending on their
relationship to the stressed syllable. Vowels in stressed syllables are
pronounced as the basic vowel sound. In unstressed syllables, they may have
altered pronunciations depending on their position in the word. The vowel “й” is used
only with other vowels to form a diphthong. It is like the English “y” at the end of words such as boy, guy or may.
Over half of
the Russian consonants can be divided into voiceless and voiced pairs. The
consonants that do change in phonemic assimilations are the same as those found
in English (digs = [digz] not [digs]). It is rare to find double consonants in
Russian and there are only three consonant clusters, in which the middle letter
Below is a
basic phonological chart of Russian consonants and vowels.
Consonants: stops : p,
b, t, d, k,g > affricates
: ts, t∫
: f, v, s, z, ∫>, з,> x nasals
: m, n
and flaps : l, r semi-vowel : y
iy, e, a, o, u soft: I, e, ya, yo, yu
general distinguishing features between Russian and English are the absence of
English short and long vowel differences and the basic absence of diphthongs in
Russian. Stress and rhythm patterns also cause difficulty. Vowels that can be
problematic are (Swan and Smith, 1987:118):
sound /зr/, which is not found in Russian, causes Russian learners of English
the greatest difficulty. They often substitute the Russian sound /э/ or /o/. Particularly
troublesome words are words beginning with w, such as work, warm, worth,
tends to be replaced by the more frontal Russian /a/ in unstressed syllables.
tends to be replaced by a more close sound resembling /e/, leading to confusion
between pairs such as sat and set.
second part of diphthongs, and the second and third parts of triphthongs tend
to be ‘over-pronounced’.
sound /ɔ/ is often
replaced by the more frontal Russian /o/ or diphthongized into /oƱ.an"'>6.
general, long vowels are pronounced insufficiently tense, which makes them
sound similar to short vowels.Field may be pronounced like filled,
for example, or seat like sit.
difference in the length of long vowels, depending on the final consonant
(compare pea, peal and peat) is also difficult to master.
is often pronounced as a ‘glide’, almost like /wα/.
difficult consonant sounds for Russians are /θ/, /ð/, /ŋ/ and /w/. Also,
the sounds /t/, /d/, /l/ and /n/ are formed differently by Russians, giving
them a strong foreign sound. Russians usually devoice /b/, /d/ and /g/ in final
voiced positions, causing mispronunciation. When /p/, /k/ and /t/ are at the
beginning of words, Russians often mispronounce these sounds. The sound /h/ is
replaced by a rougher sound like ch in loch. They often soften
many consonants before front vowels and replace the dark /ł/ with the
clusters that are especially challenging are /s/ + /θ/, /ð / + /z/ and
/θ/ + /s/. Other problems include pronouncing /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/ followed
by /y/; exploding the first plosive in a combination of two plosive consonants;
inserting the sound /ә/ in the combination /tl/, /dl/, /tn/ and /dw/;
and pronouncing the initial clusters /tw/, /tr/, /pr/, /dr/ and /br/.
to leave out secondary stresses in larger English words and often have
difficulty with sentence rhythm. As to intonation, they usually have a fall at
the end of yes/no questions, often are confused by tag questions and end with a
rise on alternative questions.
Phonological Analysis of
the Kazakh Language
language is part of the Nogai-Kipchak subgroup of the north-eastern Turkic
languages. It was first written in the 1860s, using Arabic script. In 1929, the
Latin script was introduced. In1940, Stalin decided to unify the written
materials of the Central Asian republics with those of the Slavic rulers. A
modified form of Cyrillic was introduced.
alphabet has 42 letters. Extra letters were added to the Cyrillic alphabet for
those sounds not existing in the Russian language.
nine vowels which are generally pronounced short. Vowels are pronounced long
when they follow the consonant. The vowels can be classified as follows:
Front Rounded: θ, ү
Back Rounded: o,ұ
Front Unrounded>: e, i Back
Unrounded: a, <>I
other Turkic languages are closely related to one another and there is a high
degree of mutual intelligibility among them. All Turkic languages abide by the
Law of Vowel Harmony. This law demands that the first vowel of a word
determines the character of the remaining vowels. For example, if the first
vowel is back, the remaining vowels are back also. Therefore, Kazakh words
either contain front or back vowels. Borrowed foreign words may use both front
and back vowels. In addition, there are glides “и” (iy), “ю” (yu), “й” (y) and “y”
(w). The glides “й” and “y” are
also treated as consonants. Kazakh has diphthongs that can either be written
with two graphemes as they are pronounced, or with three graphemes.
remaining letters of the Kazakh alphabet, 25 are consonants, and they can be
divided as follows:
stops: p, b, t,
d, k, g, q affricates: ts, t∫>/dз
v, s, z, ∫>, з>, x,γ,> h nasals:
m, n, ŋ
flaps: l, r semi-vowels: w, y
assimilation does occur with one of the consonant sounds being either partially
or totally made similar to the other consonant. This mainly occurs when adding
suffixes with initial consonants to stems with final consonants. There is also
a general voicing of “к/қ” (k/q) to “г /ғ” (g/gh).
possible exception of Russian and English loan words, stress or accent falls on
the final syllable. Adding an affix shifts the stress to the new syllable.
and Smith (1987:158-161) do not specifically discuss the Kazakh language, they
present important issues to consider for Turkish learners of English. A teacher
in Kazakhstan would be
wise to be aware of these Turkish language issues since Kazakh is a Turkic
would need attention include /iy/, /e/, /æ/, ɔ/, /uw/, and /ә/. The diphthongs /ey/,
/ay/ and /ɔy/ in final
positions; /eә/; and /әƱ/> also cause difficulty. When
/I/ and /ә/ come
between “s”and a consonant, they may become voiceless or even
be aware of when teaching Kazakh speakers include:
1. /θ/ and
2. /b/, /d/, /dз/ and /g/ in
3. /v/ vs. /w/
between dark /ł/ and clear
5. when /p/,
/b/, /m/, /f/ and /v/ are followed by /æ/ or /a/
6. final /m/,
/n/ and /l/
It is also
important to watch for initial consonant clusters and clusters of more than
three consonants. When speaking English, the Kazakh learners will tend to
insert vowels after the first consonant.
speakers will have difficulty with English rhythm patterns and with word
stress. The Kazakh wh- questions tend to vary from the English wh- questions. Pitches after repeated or secondary material in English are foreign
to Kazakh speakers, as is the fall-rise pattern in warnings or sentences of
Approaches and Techniques Teach Phonology in Kazakhstan
The scope of
this paper assumes the learners to be intermediate level students in
institutions of higher learning or to be national teachers of English. The
students’ goals will relate to their future professions of teaching or
translating. They will need to communicate effectively by understanding and
being understood. The teachers’ goals would include learning methods of
teaching pronunciation, principles of English phonology and patterns for
practical use in the classroom.
issues to initially consider are the teaching methods familiar to the students
and teachers and the seemingly limited emphasis on pronunciation teaching in
the past. Emphasis should be placed on pronunciation in order to best be
understood, rather than on sounding native-like. Helping these learners to
understand the need for good pronunciation should be made easier by the fact
that they are now able to actually interact with native speakers.
allowed for pronunciation teaching is most likely limited, it would be best to
initially focus on the most crucial issues of pronunciation for the learners.
Dickerson (1981:44-45) sets forth general objectives to pronunciation teaching.
She suggests the use of perception, production, and prediction skills. Perception
skills help to discriminate English phonemes and understand spoken English. Production
skills allow the learner to be understood by native speakers and prediction
skills help the learner determine probable pronunciation of both segmentals and
learners already have a good grasp of the English language and pronunciation,
it would be best to concentrate on their needed areas of improvement. In
teaching the segmentals, it would be advisable to first give a general overview
of the consonant and vowel sounds and symbols. Having a native speaker as a
teacher should help to correct any basic pronunciation mistakes that are made
with sounds that are similar in English and their native language. More time
should be spent on those sounds that differ in English and the two local
languages. A first priority would be those sounds that are difficult for both
Russians and Kazakhs. These sounds include (Nilsen & Nilsen, 1971):
/iy/ vs. /i/
/p/ vs. /b/
/æ/ vs. /a/
/a/ vs. /ɔ>/
/ð/ vs. /θ/
/ә>/ vs. /a/
/v/ vs. /z/
/ð/ vs. /d/
/w/ vs. /hw/
/e/ vs. /æ/
/p/ vs. /f/
/w/ vs. /ŋ>/
permits, the following sounds should be practiced:
For Russian Speakers
For Kazakh Speakers
/m/ vs. /ŋ>/
/ð/ vs. /z/
/v/ vs. /ð/
/ey/ vs. /e/
/w/ vs. /v/
/θ/ vs. /s/
/w/ vs. /r/
/u/ vs. /uw/
/a/ vs. /aw/
/hw/ vs. /h/
/dз>/ vs. /з>/
/a/ vs. /ow/
/f/ vs. /θ/
At the same
time, consideration should be given to the functional load of these sounds in
spoken English (Catford, 1987:89-90). The more often the sound is used in
English and the more difficult the sound is to pronounce for the learner, the
higher the priority should be for practice of this sound. Special attention
should also be given to diphthongs and consonant clusters that are considered
difficult to Russians and Kazakhs.
national teachers, it would be especially beneficial for them to have a basic
working knowledge of places and manners of articulation and voiced vs.
voiceless issues. Vowel height, position of the tongue, lip rounding and
tenseness vs. laxness should also be taught to help the teachers better grasp
segmentals is important, but teaching the suprasegmentals would be of greater
benefit in helping the learners reach their goals. For communication to be
effective, the suprasegmentals must be practiced because they play a primary
role in natural speech. Emphasizing the suprasegmentals provides a means to
transfer the speech to “real-life” situations and allows for the capability to
more accurately predict certain sounds.
topics to consider in teaching the suprasegmentals include:
word stress, sentence stress and construction stress issues are key for both
Russian and Kazakh learners of English. Russians tend to leave out secondary
stress in longer English words and Kazakhs usually put all stresses on the last
syllable. Key English stress rules should be taught.
rhythm patterns are also difficult for these learners. Memorization of poems,
songs and dialogues are familiar methods of learning in Kazakhstan, so memory
work and the use of jazz chants (Graham, 1978) would work well in this
should be addressed with special attention to yes/no questions, tag questions,
alternative questions, wh- questions and fall-rise patterns in warning
and sentences of incompleteness.
English natural speech phenomena would also help the students better understand
native speakers. Lessons on linking, assimilation, deleting and reduction of
English words and phrases should be included in the curriculum. Listening,
modeling and creative exercises would be important in teaching the natives
taught accurately and thoroughly, all of the above elements can help the
learners better predict pronunciation (Dickerson, 1994:19-35). This ability to
predict will aid them long after completing the class work and will assist them
in progressing toward their professional goals.
will already be familiar with certain teaching and learning techniques that can
readily be used in teaching pronunciation. They have been taught using
repetition, sequencing and drills. Repetition will reinforce their learning and
sequencing from simple to complex will provide a framework for progress. Excellent
pronunciation drills include listening, same/difference, word 1-2-3, yes/no,
substitution, transformation and appropriate response. Ear training should come
first, followed by production. Recycling of material will also be important.
in the former Soviet
Union have brought with it a gradual openness to change in all aspects of life. Teaching
English in Kazakhstan would
require high-quality instruction, culturally appropriate lessons, a creative
imagination and an adventuresome and flexible spirit. An analysis of both the
Russian and Kazakh languages and a comparison of these to English provide a
basis for beginning to teach pronunciation in Kazakhstan.
understanding the above mentioned issues can one develop a preliminary approach
to teaching pronunciation in Kazakhstan.
J.C.: “Phonetics and the Teaching of Pronunciation.” Current Perspectives on
Pronunciation: Practice Anchored in Theory, J. Morely (ed.). Washington DC: TESOL,
Lonna: “Evaluating, Selecting and Adapting Pronunciation Textbooks: Guidelines
for ESL/EFL Teachers.”TESL Studies, 4, 1981.
Wayne: “Empowering Students with Predictive Skills.” Pronunciation Pedagogy
and Theory: New Views, New Directions. J. Morley (ed.). Washington DC: TESOL,
Carolyn: Jazz Chants. New Roman"'>: Oxford University Press, 1978.
5. Edwards, Mary
Louise, and Lawrence D. Shriberg: Phonology: Applications in Communicative
College-Hill Press, Inc., 1983.
6. Nilsen, Don,
and Alleen P. Nilsen: Pronunciation Contrasts in English. Englewood Cliffs:
Regents Prentice Hall, 1973.
Martha Brill: The Kazakhs. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987.
Michael, and Bernard Smith: Learner English. A Teacher’s Guide to
Interference and Other Problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2005