sábado, 18 de enero de 2014

Why do I have difficulties in understanding natural speech?

In late December 2013 World Teacher published a short summary of a webinar hosted by Cambridge University Press and presented by Johanna Stirling under the title The Spelling Thief.

The webinar is still available for registered members of the Cambridge English Teacher community, but you will have to sign up if you want to have full access to everything Johanna said.

However, in the short summary made by Andrea Noginsk in World Teacher we can begin to understand the reasons why we usually have difficulties in understanding English.

Here are the reasons Johanna talked about and Andrea included on her post:

Why don’t students understand natural speech?
It’s too fast for them to process.
The words aren’t spoken clearly.
They aren’t listening properly.
They don’t know all the words.
They panic.

The first two are probably the main reasons for non-comprehension.

From here Johanna moved on to deal with the way the listening skills is taught today through prediction activities, listening for gist (the main idea), listening for specific information and inferring .

But it doesn't seem to be enough. Pronunciation, which is very often neglected in the classroom, plays an important role in developing the listening skills. Johanna mentioned 5 main types of 'receptive pronunciation' which are closely associated with listening:

1 Ellipsis (incomplete sentences)
2 Weak forms (many syllables are squashed)
3 Elision (some sounds are lost when we speak)
4 Word linking (words join together in fast speech)
5 Assimilation (some sounds change when they are near other sounds)

If you want to find out a little bit more about receptive pronunciation and see some examples of the main five types Johanna mentioned , drop by World Teacher and read Andrea's post.

You can also make a point of dropping by Johanna Stirling's excellent The Spelling Blog, which we have commented on in this blog several times.