What is Phonetics ?
What is Phonation?
What is Phonics ?
Phonetics for kids
Issue of basic english phonetics
How to develop accurate pronunciation
What is Phoneme
Importance of Phonic worksheets
What is Phonetics
In simple terms, Phonetics is the systematic study of human speech sounds. Traditionally, Phonetics has depended upon careful listening and observation of speech sounds. The study takes into account how these sounds are made and what is the auditory impression of these sounds on us. There is a certain framework to understand different speech sound which is also known as International Phonetic Association (IPA). It is a very important part of understanding the process of phonetics. IPA has remained very crucial in helping us understanding the language, sounds and pronunciations.
Phonetics is a discipline of linguistics. Interestingly, Phonetics is more concerned with phonology which refers to the way sounds are understood in different languages and not on aspects like meaning of these sounds. Additionally, you don’t get any idea of how sounds are produced and heard by reading phonetics. Semiotics plays a crucial role in the subject of phonetics.
Phonetics is divided into three major branches of Articulatory phonetics, Auditory phonetics and Acoustic phonetics. All the three segments cover different aspects of speech and sounds. The articulatory phonetics deals with how speech sounds are produced by the human vocal apparatus. It is also credited with first stage of phonetics study. Even the non-linguistic scholars have started studying phonetics with articulatory branch. Auditory phonetics is all about how sounds are perceived by the ear, brain and auditory nerve whereas acoustic phonetics is the study of the waves involved in speech sounds and how they are interpreted by the human ear. Professionals from different field of specializations including computer speech synthesizers and speech therapists etc consistently use these branches of phonetics to get a better understanding of our speech and communication process.
Sounds are also called as ‘phones’ and IPA has devised different alphabets for describing all the different sounds. Credit goes to constant endeavors of linguists who kept applying different techniques to measure speech objectively. From hand tools to electrical and electronic machines and digital computers, plenty of different forms of techniques have been applied to properly understand the sound and speech system. As a result of these efforts, we now have better scientific understanding of how speech works.
What is Phonation
Phonation basically refers to the making of sound. You start phonating when the vocal cords come together and air flowing between them causes them to vibrate. That’s the simplest definition of phonation. It would be wrong to assume that speech is only made of phonated sound. In reality, there are different sound sources like vibrating vocal cords, blocked air flow and uproar caused by constraint. Phonation takes place in the larynx, also known as voice box. It is hard to understand the complex physiology and anatomy involved in phonation. The larynx muscles work involuntarily. We have no control over these muscles. Larynx manipulates vocal stream and that results into breathy or creaky voice and other glottal sounds. It is not really impossible to master the vibration of the vocal cords through the sound it feels and creates. But, it can take a lifetime to have even a bit of control over this process
Phoneticians can tell you about type of phonation by placing their fingers in front of the throat. They specialize in understanding the quasi-periodic vibration of the vocal cords. If you are curious to understand how to know the type of phonation then you can do so by feeling for vibration during the speech. A voice sound is produced when the vocal cords are vibrating during speech. Voiced sound includes everything right from, consonants to vowels and nasal sounds.
Good phonation can be achieved by maintaining a balance between two extremes of pressed phonation and breathy phonation. The former one refers to applying muscular efforts to the vocal cords whereas breathy phonation is all about not applying excessive efforts and because of which air escapes audibly between the cords while vibrating. The perfect balance is also known as flow phonation in which there is a fine equilibrium between the muscular activity of the vocal cords and the air pressure beneath them. It results into high-quality sound.
Different languages have different voice distinctions and manipulation of sounds. For instance, English language relies heavily on glottis. With practice, one can make his phonation appropriate. The onset of the sound should never be breathy or glottal. One can find plenty of phonation exercises on internet and apply them for optimum effects.
What is Phonics
Phonics is taught to students of English with the idea that they will learn the language using the sounds of the letters. Using phonics helps the students to read many words in English as they have mastered the main sounds of the letters used in the language. The method thus has an advantage over simply learning the alphabets.
Earlier before the advent of internet, teaching phonics was a constraint as it is difficult to learn the same from a printed book. One really would find it difficult to understand the sounds from the written words. Also, while some people used an audio cassette, they did not see the letters and so found it difficult to learn from it. However, with the help of internet, it became easy for people to understand phonics and learn from various websites where one could hear the sound and see the letter and thus have full control over what one is studying.
Phonics is a widely used system by teachers across the world. Most of the phonic rules and patterns used to decode words are easy to understand however these rules may have some exception. Sounds of vowels are taught to students. Example: ‘A’ is pronounced like in RAT, ‘O’ is pronounced like in ‘DOT’, ‘U’ is pronounced like in PUP, ‘E’ is pronounced like in SET and ‘I’ is pronounced like in BIT. These are pronounced like they are short vowels. Whereas, long vowels are pronounced as in the letter names such as ‘A’ in BABY, ‘O’ as in BROKEN, ‘U’ as in HUMOUR, and ‘E’ in METER.
Another important sound in the English language is the indistinct sound of Schwa. For example, when one pronounces the word ‘LESSON’, one pronounces ‘ON’ as ‘uh’. Yet another important part of phonics is Dipthongs. These are two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. For example pronounce the words cow, eye, boy and you will know that the sounds they make occur within the same syllable. Then there is vowel digraphs where two letters represent the vowel sound such as ‘AI’ in sail or ‘OO’ in tool.
There are many more rules used in phonics that are taught to students who undergo this method to learn English language. Phonics is no rocket science and parents can teach this method to their kids with some basic knowledge of the language.
Phonetics for kids
Words or language are the basic medium through which human communication takes place. Words belong to a particular language and that is what makes the entire process of communication a successful one. Phonetics, as we know is the study of sounds in human speech. For parents, it is important to provide the right basics when the kid starts to learn, speak and read. Phonetics for kids is all about helping your child read in best way possible. Parents should be prepared with requisite knowledge and tools to make this process smooth and enjoyable for the child.
There are plenty of phonetics methods and tools that have been employed by parents as well as preschools successfully. For instance, take a compilation of words, looking at which children will instantly understand its meaning and identify the object. Words should never be ambiguous. For a child, it is important to start words that are simple and have just one meaning. Parents should ensure using of English phonetics. The letters must be sounded correctly to the kids. Children quickly grasp the things. They also have good memory so if phonetics for kids is used in a proper way, it can contribute a lot to child’s effective learning.
When it comes to reading instructions, the two main methods are analytic phonetics and synthetic phonetics. Most of the schools use both these methods. If we compare these two approaches, the synthetic phonetics makes children approach the words at the most basic level. It purely focuses on the letters and sounds of a word. Analytic phonetics is introduced to the kids when they progress to a certain level of literacy. This method helps children in focusing on word as whole. Children are taught to use beginning and ending sounds of the words to build the word. Compared to synthetic phonetics, analytics phonetics is certainly more complex. Used primarily for advanced reading skills, analytic method is very effective.
Phonetics help kids in reading and pronouncing words properly. Quite a number of kids are not very comfortable with reading sessions. They find it difficult to read in an appropriate manner. But if parents and teachers have worked on phonetics aspect, reading becomes a joyous experience for the kids.
Issue of basic English phonetics
English is not a phonetic language. Those who are willing to learn English need to understand this fact. That also makes English complicated language to learn. So how does it affect learning English for non-English speakers? One, you never pronounce some of the words in the same way all the time. Many words bear the same spelling but are pronounced differently. Similar, sometimes one does not pronounce the words the way they are spelled. One more case is of words that are pronounced in the same manner despite being spelled differently. That is not the case with most of the languages. But English as a language has its own phonetics rule.
For instance, words ‘way’ and ‘weigh’ are pronounced in the same way, though they are totally different words with different meanings. This is quite surprising for English language learners but that’s the way it is. To master such differences, one needs to study all the uses of the words in different context, meanings and spellings. Only a specific learning of English can make one a proficient English reader and speaker. Many people are prone to make mistakes when they come across such words.
Let’s take one more example. The word ‘Pneumonia’ starts with P and yet, the pronunciation has no p in it because the letter p is silent. With due practice, an English learner slowly starts to recognize and remember such words. There are no less than 52 different sounds in the English language and if one wants to speak and learn English perfectly, he will need to learn all these different pronunciations.
Some English alphabets have a broad assortment of sounds associated with their spellings. For instance, if we take letter ‘S’, and try using it in words like ‘shame’, ‘sign’, or ‘resignation’, we will find three different sounds and the letter is same. This goes for many other letters like ‘c’ etc. the main function of phonetics is to help us with pronunciation and the sounds we make. How these sounds are made are dealt using phonetics but at the same time, phonetics also makes it hard to understand the English language.
Spelling and pronunciation are two different things. For a new learner, this can get really confusing because we cannot exactly point out a reason for such contradictions. However, with due practice and with the help of dictionaries, one can understand detailed pronunciations using a wide range of characters.
How to develop accurate pronunciation
Not everyone is able to pronounce words accurately. In fact, while learning a foreign language, pronunciation is one factor where most students stumble. This particularly holds true for those who are learning English language. We all are quite good at speaking words of our native language. But when it comes to how to say something in a foreign language, the situation becomes difficult. Many of you must have experienced this while trying to talk to someone in a foreign language and finding the face of that someone totally puzzled. Yes, it can breed frustration and embarrassment. But then, we always have solutions for such problems.
First of all, one needs to learn phonetic rules. It is important to use dictionary because it can help you in finding the meaning of the word and also in how to pronounce a particular word. Problem is, not many students regularly use dictionary. Almost all the dictionaries contain the phonetic pronunciation of the words. Pronunciation learning becomes a truly comfortable experience with the help of phonetic symbols. When you look at a certain word in the dictionary, you will find its phonetic pronunciation also. One does face a lot of difficulty initially while learning the phonetic alphabet but with practice and patience, learning process becomes quite easy in the long run.
You must accept the fact that you cannot speak and pronounce words like a native speaker. That will take some time. Learning a second language is always difficult so one should aim at acquiring proper intonation and pronunciation instead of focusing on perfection. It always pays to have realistic objectives. What you need to remember is, English language focuses on principal elements of a sentence like nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. These are also called as content words that get the highest priority in spoken English where function words like articles, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions etc are considered less important words.
You should also use online dictionaries where you can hear pronunciation of the words. Using the option of phonetic symbol, you can hear the word. This helps you in learning both symbols and pronunciations. Finally, keep practicing and one day you will be able to develop accurate pronunciation.
What is Phoneme
A phoneme, stemming from the field of phonics, indicates the basic unit of sound, using which one builds the language. All the words that we speak are made of one or more phonemes. All languages have emerged from the different sounds that humans can make. However, not all sounds available to human speech are used in the languages we speak. According to research, there are a standard set of phonemes from which so many words have emerged and evolved. One must remember that there isn’t always a correspondence between a phoneme and letter.
There is a differencing factor between the sounds a human can make and the specific sounds that affect the meaning of a particular word. Linguists use the term ‘phones’ specifically to describe different speech sounds a human can make and they use the word ‘phonemes’ to describe the sounds that help humans to build a language and understand or attribute the meaning given to a particular word. Most of our languages do not capitalize all the possible phones that humans can create.
In most of our languages, linguists have assigned some standard phonemes that represent the common sounds used in our speech. It is these phonemes that we use in English and other languages to create a variety of words that convey our meaning in our communication process.
Alphabets ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘P’, ‘R’ etc are nothing but sounds which get together and form meanings. A phoneme is quintessentially tied to the meaning of a word. The first sound in the word ‘PAT’ is ‘P’, if this phoneme is changed to ‘B’ the word will become BAT and the meaning of the word will completely change. Similarly, if the first sound in the word RAT is changed from ‘R’ to ‘S’, the word becomes SAT and takes on a new meaning. It is said that if two phonemes can be exchanged in a word without altering the word’s meaning, then the two sounds are called allophones. One must keep in mind that different dialects of the same language may pronounce words differently for the same phoneme. However, the essential role of a phoneme still remains the same.
Language comprises of words and sounds. Language is the most common and effective medium of communication. Thinking of it, an illiterate cannot read or write but he can speak using different words in certain way. All of us can speak language, understand it and communicate using words. So that makes a language the most powerful medium of communication. Without language, humans wouldn’t have been able to keep a community together. It is a unifying factor that has contributed significantly to the evolution of human civilization. However, occurrence of even a slight distortion in the language, the words become meaningless. It not only hampers understanding but also renders the entire communication process pointless.
That’s why; it becomes important for us to maintain an acceptable form of sound system. We need to preserve the basic of language, words, pronunciations and that’s phonetics as a subject comes into the picture. English is a universal language that is spoken in almost every part of the world. But language is not just about its spoken form. It also involves orthography, spelling in the written form. Learning English can get complicated for non-native English speakers because, one, it is not a phonetic language and second, usually different vowels are seen to produce different sounds at different places. The reason for this phenomenon is that fact that English words are derived from different root languages. While teaching English, it becomes very important to focus on the spelling mode of speech.
Coming to the phonetic communication, it is used for specific purposes. Many people are not aware of use of phonetic communication for specific purposes like aviation. Phonetics is ideal tool of communication for certain tasks. In phonetic communication, emphasis is on using small sentences or words for quicker delivery of messages. Long words and sentences are often avoided in this form of communication.
Phonetic communication is mastered by those who know what phonetics and how it can be used for specific purposes. It makes communication crisp and clear. Also used in military services to send top secret messages, phonetic communication is a form of coded language. Considering the presence of different languages and their complexities, it is only viable to use a common language like phonetic communication. It simplifies the process of understanding. Phonetic communication is also used in medical transcription business. Phonetic communication is indeed a common form of communication that works effectively despite the difference in countries, cultures and languages.
Importance of Phonic worksheets
Phonics is a proven and popular method for learning to read. Despite the fact that English is not purely a phonetic language, phonics plays an important part for beginners in their quest to learn to read the language. Phonic instructions are employed by many schools and educational institutions. It is a very effective method of teaching and that explains its soaring popularity in recent years. Phonic instructions are not just used by teachers. They are also used by parents who teach their children at home with the help of these instruction materials. Some of the common tools used by teachers and parents to make the children learn to read are, students practice learning vowels, diphthongs, beginning consonants, long vowel sounds, ending consonants and plurals, silent consonants, beginning blends, R-controlled vowels, ending blends and phonic worksheets.
Phonic worksheets are wonderful preschool tools for educating the children in an entertaining way. Children learn quickly using these worksheets. Considering the importance of mastering languages in a fast shrinking world, phonic worksheets have come as a real handy tool in the hands of parents and teachers. The worksheets are available in different levels and teach different rules of any given language. The basic function of the worksheets is to improve the language skills of the children. Using them, teachers get a good idea of where the child stands in terms of language knowledge.
If we take English language as an example, for a child it is really difficult to understand and absorb all the rules and exception associated with the language. Worksheets are not just wonderful phonetic teaching tools. They also make the process very enjoyable and relaxed for the kid. Children look forward to learn the language in a more effective way.
Phonics worksheets work effectively with phonics books. Some of the lessons that are usually taught using these sheets are connecting letter to words, letter association and tracing over dotted lines to form words etc. Drawings, stories, paintings, puzzles and games etc are used in the teaching process. The best part about phonic worksheets is that they simplify learning and that further motivates the children.