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Q: A non-native speaker learning English would most likely struggle with which grammatical structures?
A: There are four reasons that it can be hard to understand non-native English speakers whose grammar is good but whose intelligibility is poor: 1. Vowels and consonants are inaccurately pronounced, substituted or entirely omitted. [ Since vowels and consonants carry a lot of meaning to words, a substitution can alter the meaning drastically. Other languages don't use the same alphabet as English
does and so non-native speakers must learn entirely new sounds. Among the harder sounds to learn are /r/ and /l/ as well as many of our vowels. Vowels in particular, if mispronounced are going to cause miscommunications. Consider the vowel in the word "pet." If someone substitutes a long ee sound for this vowel, the following sentences could be interpreted very differently: "The den was messy and ugly" would sound like, "The dean was meesy and ugly." Although the context of a sentence may help the listener figure out what was said, doing this frequently is tiring. Often times, a non-native speaker will adopt the sounds of their own language to say the words. Another problem is that many English words are not pronounced like they are spelled. This can create problems even for the native speaker learning to say an unfamiliar word. 2. Inappropriate stress is placed on syllables in words. Again, a non-native speaker will use the structure of his/her native language and apply it to English. Some languages don't stress syllables like English. In order to stress a syllable, we lengthen the vowel sound of the stressed syllable and we increase our pitch and our loudness on this syllable. Consider the following two words: thirty and thirteen. The first syllable is stressed in the word "thirty" and the second syllable is stressed in "thirteen." A non-native speaker whose native tongue gives equal length to all syllables is going to say these two words almost identically. Word meaning is carried in these stressed syllables in American English. If this syllable is not stressed, there will most likely be an issue with understanding. 3. The rhythm and melody of speech (intonation) doesn't match American English intonation patterns. This issue is similar to the problem we just discussed. ]
Expert answered|wisbest|Points 211|
Asked 6/29/2011 7:31:13 AM
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