Phonetics are an important part of learning English Many accent reduction course involve comprehensive software and training materials that help people reduce their accents and improve confidence and intelligibility in mission critical jobs. What is meant by phonetics? Merriam Webster’s definition:
a) the system of speech sounds of a language or group of languages
b) the study and systematic classification of the sounds made in spoken utterance
c) the practical application of this science to language study
The dictionary description continues:
“It deals with their articulation (articulatory phonetics), their acoustic properties (acoustic phonetics), and how they combine to make syllables, words, and sentences (linguistic phonetics). The first phoneticians were Indian scholars (c. 300 BC) who tried to preserve the pronunciation of Sanskrit holy texts.”
The individual sounds in a language are called ‘phonemes’. English has about 44 phonemes although the number varies according to the accent or dialect with which the language is spoken. Phonetics is the study and teaching of word stress, sentence stress and intonation
Your ESL teacher is well equipped to work these aspects of spoken language and therefore to really help you with your pronunciation in the classroom setting. Some classrooms will have phonetics software, or other interactive and written course materials. Phonetics software is available so widely on the internet that your teacher can refer you to phonetics websites that offer exercises that are the most effective for an ESL learner.
Teachers constantly work on their students’ pronunciation – phonetics – as one of the most important objectives in an ESL course is to help you communicate in a second language. The teacher must assess whether the student’s pronunciation is adequate for their level and for the tasks that are required of them once they graduate. Phonetics is always an important aspect of ESL courses.