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Learning English transcription and its role in teaching to read in English


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Learning English transcription and its role in teaching to read in English


It is difficult for schoolchildren and students, as well as adults who are just starting to learn English, to master pronunciation: the sound appearance of the English language is very different from the Russian we are used to. Listening helps to understand how a particular word sounds, but transcription helps to understand how letters and their combinations are read. These are the same obscure symbols in square brackets that “translate” letters into sounds.

But the difficulty of transcription is that you also need to learn how to read it: how softness, sound length, interdental pronunciation and other nuances characteristic of the phonetic system of the English language are indicated. Transcription will help you learn how to read letters in different combinations - the pronunciation of a sound in English depends on the context. Such a phenomenon occurs in the Russian language: we do not read all the letters in the word "what", we pronounce [INTO], but in colloquial speech it occurs [cho]. But we master the norms of our native language from birth, we “grasp” many things intuitively, and when learning a foreign language, the lack of linguistic experience will do a disservice.

Why do we study transcription?

Transcription helps when learning any foreign language: English, Chinese or Norwegians use transcription when learning Russian. So, the letter B is read differently in the words "barrel" and "felling". Modern electronic dictionaries without transcription will tell you how this / that word sounds - but this is not a universal knowledge applicable in similar cases. The child will not realize for himself that Th is pronounced as [ð] - a voiced interdental at the end of a word before the letter E or in service words - the transcription will allow you to remember, learn the basic laws of reading, and not memorize individual words.

  • Knowledge of transcription allows you to read words by sound: this way pronunciation is learned more clearly than by sound pattern. Listening does not always allow you to catch the difference between long and short vowel sounds, and the written designation of sounds trains visual perception, allowing you to remember "by eye" which combination of letters is pronounced.
  • The transcription helps to understand where the stress falls (a short slash above in front of a syllable is the main stress, below is an additional one - stressed and pre-stressed syllables).
  • Knowledge of transcription allows you to avoid electronic translators, to cope in a situation where you cannot listen to a word. Educational literature or reading novels often contain translations, transcriptions of complex words in footnotes, or endnotes at the end of the book.

Knowledge of transcription helps to hone reading skills.

How to read English transcription?

Transcription is a universal way of conveying pronunciation: the sound of a word is conveyed using special characters and is written in square brackets. This is not at all the same as writing down an English word in Russian letters, because the phonetic system is too different: often, well, there are no letters in the Russian language that can convey English pronunciation. In addition to knowing the signs denoting specific sounds, to read the transcription, you need to master the symbols of stress, longitude, brevity, etc.

It is easier to start mastering transcription by identifying the sounds of the language: learn the transcription of the English alphabet, remember how to pronounce common sound combinations. Many sounds are denoted similarly to the letters , , , , , while others - by unusual symbols , help to read sounds that have no analogues in Russian ([θ], [ð]).

The vowel sounds of the English language are divided into long and short: if the sound is preceded by a symbol similar to our colon (:), then the sound is long. In English, there are vowel sounds read together - diphthongs .

It is not easy for kids who begin to master a new language to learn and remember the laws of transcription - they learn it in the process, understanding intuitively. And for adults who are ready to analyze, it is easier to learn the universal rules of pronunciation, learn to read transcriptions before language classes.

For convenience, make a table of English sounds, make a memo with the transcribed English alphabet. Believe me, such a little tediousness will greatly facilitate your business!

Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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