THE hue and cry over the DidikTV teacher’s poor pronunciation of English words during her Science lesson may have quietened down by now, but the Education Ministry should not treat the matter lightly.
Students spend a long time (for most, at least 11 years) learning English in school. The fact remains that the teacher is a by-product of the system of language teaching and learning in the country.
Forgiving the teacher for her slip-up is one thing, but closing our eyes to the problem would be like sweeping garbage under the carpet. When students are exposed to the wrong pronunciation on DidikTV or elsewhere, they may be confused or, worse, accept the errors as correct.
The Education Ministry should not tolerate substandard achievement in any area of learning at school, including the English language. Though it is true that English is only a second language in the country, it is still the lingua franca of the globalised world.
The government has invested a lot in the development of English language learning in the country. The teaching and learning of pronunciation should not be taken lightly because speaking is a primary skill in any communication.
Teaching of pronunciation to students has little to do with theory. Rather, pronunciation involves intensive use and practice of the language. This requires repetition and exposure to spoken words as they occur in real contexts. Learning to pronounce words properly, not just English but all other languages, should start from Year 1 and continue until students complete Form 5. If the right resources and methods are used, 11 years would be enough for students to have a solid command of pronunciation.
One of the resources that can be used by the teacher to teach pronunciation is songs. In pronunciation teaching, songs provide drilling that is painless and enjoyable. Singing can also lower the anxiety level in classrooms.
Many songs use repetitive lyrics that can enhance memory retention. Students may even sing or hum the songs outside school, thereby consolidating their learning process.
There are countless songs in English that could be used in pronunciation teaching. These songs are further enhanced by the colourful and appealing videos accompanying them.
Another valuable feature of songs is their wide range of themes that could be eye-openers for the students. For example, Colours Of The Wind by Vanessa Williams is about environmental preservation, My Name is Luka by Suzanne Vega is about child abuse, and Child by Freddie Aguilar is about parental love.
Teachers could tap the multiple benefits of songs to teach proper pronunciation in a pleasant way.
DR AMERUDDIN ABD MANAN