max_bt wrote:Should we teach pronunciation? yes or no
Pronunciation is something that comes naturally I think.
Pronunciation involves the use of a whole set of muscles in the mouth and jaw, some of which are more or less developed according to the native language. In some cases it is physically impossible for a speaker of one language to produce a sound that a speaker of another language can produce easily. To some extent pronunciation should come naturally, or be encouraged to come naturally, but - and this depends on the combination of L1 and target language - frequently careful explanation and physical training are required. Unfortunately, pronunciation is often relegated, partly because many teachers are unaware how they themselves physically utter a sound.
Another aspect of pronunciation that can never be overemphasized is stress - word stress
and sentence stress
. And to carry the Thai example on, Thai is a tonal language and not a stress-based language like English. Helping Thai speakers understand this basic concept will go a long, long way in improving their intelligibility when speaking in English. Conversely, I know native English speakers who have spent years trying to pick up Thai tones "naturally", without success.
We all learn our first language naturally. We learn it 24/7, even while in the womb. Yet it takes two or three years of this input before we utter a single word. The trouble is that as learners of another language we don't have that luxury. So while all natural approaches to language learning are to be extolled, it has to be accepted that additional methods are needed. Perhaps the phonetics classes your friends took simply weren't very good
It's all very well sitting in a phonetics class looking at phonetic symbols, and even listening to their sounds, but unless someone explains to you where to put your tongue, so to speak, it will remain of academic value only.