(a) English has the following tongue-twister for saying /?/:
Round and round the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.
Try saying this with different approximations to English /?/. Is [w] better than [?] or vice versa? Does lip-position help? Can you manipulate ‘darkness’ or ‘clearness’, and if so, does that help? Can you do a tongue-tip down /?/? (Many American speakers have one of these.) Are tapped or trilled versions of /r/ good enough for English (define ‘good enough’).
Try the same exercises with /l/. Is /l/ different? For a real tongue-twister, try
Red lorry, yellow lorry (or, alternative version: red leather, yellow leather).
(b) Try alternating between [s] and [θ] to feel what the difference is. Try the same exercise with English [?] and Japanese [?] (the difference should include some of the same features). Can you turn [s] into [?], and how could you instruct someone to do that? Can you turn [s] into [θ], or is there a better approach to teaching [θ]?
(c) Try saying words like hens, pens, lose, sheathe, leave with voiceless final fricatives. Do they necessarily turn into hence, pence, loose, sheath, leaf? Try manipulating length and intensity so that they do not. If you are not a native speaker, you might prefer to listen to the sound file of me saying some of these words from the lecture.
(d) In the words below, which voiceless plosives are aspirated and which are not? Does your variety of English provide the same results as the variety described by Gimson? If not, describe the differences. Can you state a general rule which will describe why the relevant plosives are (un)aspirated, EITHER for your variety OR for the one described by Gimson if these differ?
(f) From Rogerson-Revell, p. 102, do Activity 3. The link to the sound files is here:
This is a really useful exercise to hear places where consonants are unreleased or deleted in English consonant clusters.
(g) Rogerson-Revell, p. 123-4, talks about consonant deletion and vowel insertion as being the two main strategies learners employ to deal with consonant clusters that they cannot handle, with the second of these being preferable for intelligibility. Do you agree with this? What advice do you give your learners for dealing with unmanageable consonant clusters?
(h) Have a look at the attached suggested activities for teaching particular consonant problem areas within a communicative approach, from Lane, Linda 2010. Tips for Teaching Pronunciation: A Practical Approach. New York: Pearson Education. Can you think of similar exercises for problems with particular consonants, or consonant clusters, for your learners? What do you think about this approach, emphasising production in context, as opposed to the approach of emphasising perception out of context, advocated in the Bradlow reading?
• Rogerson-Revell, Pamela 2011. English Phonology and Pronunciation Teaching. London: Continuum.
• Cruttenden, Alan 2008. Gimson’s Pronunciation of English. 7th edition. London: Arnold.