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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte BULKELEY CREDLE

Making English Spelling and Pronunciation Easier for Francophone ELLs (TESOL France, 2022)

Full Presentation and Paper available below.

Whether it’s rules like i before e, except after c or 11 reasons the English language is impossible to learn,” it is no question that English spelling and pronunciation are challenging components of language learning. Native speakers all too frequently fail to correctly use there, their, and they’re, so it’s no wonder that English Language Learners (ELLs) meet with specific challenges when attempting to acquire orthography and pronunciation rules. The good news is that rules like i before e and are neither the authorities when it comes to the complexity of the English language, nor the keys to success. In fact, there is even better news. According to Kreidler (1972), the complexity and seeming irregularity in English spelling and pronunciation rules are quite “regular” when viewed through a lens of “position” (3). Furthermore, conceptualizing spelling and pronunciation rules based the position of the word allows ELLs to glean information about the word’s meaning, function in its thought group, and even etymological origin, ultimately yielding a more fuller acquisition of the words they are incorporating into their linguistic repertoire (Kreidler, 1972, p. 3-4). This paper aims to explore the existing research on the relationship between English orthography and pronunciation, identify teaching methods that mitigate common struggles for both young and adult ELLs, and suggest possible applications and new approaches to build on current methods in use in ESL classrooms.

The general perception among native speakers and ELLs alike is that there is little rhyme or reason to the relationship between what we see and hear when interacting in English. When surveying the past and current approaches to teaching pronunciation and spelling, Kreidler’s prediction has unquestionably come true. In his 1972 article, Teaching English Spelling and Pronunciation, he discerned that the “failure to provide instruction and guided practice in pronouncing written English words may result from an erroneous notion that there is little or no system to teach” (3). Since 1972, it is clear that as the number of global English speakers has grown, the standard exposure to and instruction of the clear rules to the English pronunciation system has not followed the same trajectory. While there are certainly ESL classes that benefit from teachers who both understand the rules and can explain them in comprehensible and applicable ways, many ELLs do not receive the same quality of instruction in this specific language development area. Even for native speakers of English, explaining the pronunciation variation in words like through, thorough, thought, and throughout is a challenge. However, the research of Kreidler (1972) and Dickerson (2015) provide a significant basis for equipping the pre- and in-service ESL teacher with the understanding and explanations suitable for learners of all L1s, proficiency levels, and cultural backgrounds....

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Charlotte Bulkeley Credle Meaning First, Then Spelling_41st TESOL France Colloquium
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TESOL Fr Conference
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