First International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 90)

Kobe, Japan
November 18-22, 1990

Teaching English Pronunciation to Japanese University Students: The Voiceless Fricative /s/ Sound

Hisako Murakawa

International Budo University, Chiba, Japan

It is generally believed that an adult has more difficulty mastering the pronunciation of a second language than does a child. Various studies, from psychological and methodological viewpoints, have found evidence that the child acquires the phonetics of speech much faster than does the adult. Various writers have discussed techniques and methods of teaching classroom. However, in Japan, very few researchers have attempted to verify scientifically whether or not the application of phonetic information in teaching English pronunciation will enhance adult performance. The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not the phonetic method, used with laser discs which show the articulation of English pronunciation, produces any significant differences from using the audio-lingual method only. The target English voiceless fricative I si sound is chosen. Althought the /s/ sound exists in the Japanese language, the English fricative /s/ requires a much stronger breath stream than the Japanese /s/. It is, therefore, one of the most difficult English sounds for Japanese to produce. Learning the correct way of breathing and articulation will facilitate the production of this significant /s/ sound. Subjects for the experimental group were from the junior class of International Budo University majoring in budo (martial ways). The control group are juniors from IBU majoring in physical education. Both groups are in the highest class of English proficiency of the four instructional levels. An identical measurement test is given before and after the training session. A sound analyzer, one of the devices of PROTS(Pronunciation Training System) is used. All spoken data from both Japanese groups are compared with those of native speakers of American English. The results will be observed.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Murakawa, Hisako (1990): "Teaching English pronunciation to Japanese university students: the voiceless fricative /s/ sound", In ICSLP-1990, 1181-1184.