When starting at Callan School, many students are often too shy to speak for fear of making mistakes in pronouncing a word /words correctly. Making mistakes is a natural part of any learning process and only by making mistakes do we learn from them. Every student, in every class, in every level, makes mistakes and it is nothing to be afraid of. You are at the school to learn and the teacher recognizes that each learner is different. At the Callan School, although we cover all aspects of learning a language such as the grammar, reading and writing, we put our focus and energy into teaching you how to actually speak the language correctly. We do this by constantly correcting your pronunciation in the classroom.

Sometimes when pronouncing a word it’s better to over pronounce it so that what you’re saying is clearer. For example, sometimes the teacher cannot hear the difference when you say “I can” or I can’t” because the word is pronounced very weakly and the ‘t’ is not heard when speaking in the negative. Some letters in English are also pronounced differently in Spanish such as ‘I’ and ‘e’ the latter in Spanish when using the letter ‘i’.

E.g.

“ship” (English word) and “sheep” (Spanish sound when spoken)

“kiss” (English word) and “keys” (Spanish sound when spoken)

This is one of the main reasons why you are always corrected on your pronunciation because depending on how you pronounce a word, your answer will either be correct or incorrect, and can make it seem out of context. When we speak, we have to change the shape of your mouth. Try saying the letter ‘a’ then the letter ‘o’. It’s impossible without changing the shape of your mouth. During the Callan class you will be corrected all the time. It’s important to repeat vocabulary as much as possible thus strengthening your ability to speak properly and more fluently. Remember to also use contractions when you speak. It’s how we speak naturally. By process of repetition and correction you eventually realise your own mispronunciation and start to self-correct. Many words have the same spelling but are grammatically different and have a different sound.

E.g.

“close” (verb) and “close” (adjective)

These words look the same and are spelled the same. However, how we pronounce and use them is important. With the verb “close” ( to shut something) the ‘s’ is pronounced with a ‘z’ sound whereas when we say the adjective “close” (meaning near) the ‘s’ is pronounced with an ‘s’ sound. This is a perfect example of when it is best to pronounce the ‘s’ emphatically when using the word to make its meaning clearer.

There are many additional ways to learn the sound of a word in English, such as a phonetic application for your phone such as ‘Macmillan’ Sounds: Pronunciation App. There are two versions , one which is free and one you can pay for. The free app allows you to see and hear the phonetic alphabet and hear examples whilst also offering a quiz in listening and writing. You can also sometimes see the and hear a word phonetically on Wikipedia.

D. Lindsay

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