Monday, August 20, 2007

Contractions and ESL Speakers

Many of my private ESL students are advanced level ESL speakers. Many come to me because they want to sound more like a native English speaker. Together, we work on many ways to improve their American English pronunciation and reduce their native accents. We look at intonation, pronunciation of words and of individual sounds, we look at voiced and unvoiced sounds, etc.

We also look at reductions and contractions. Most advanced ESL students are very familiar with contractions. They've been taught about them many times. However, very few of my students use contractions. As a matter of fact, when they are reading aloud to me, they will even take apart a contraction. "I'll" becomes "I will" when they are reading. So it is often very difficult for ESL speakers to consistently use contractions.

And yet, the use of contractions during speaking is one of the best ways to move toward sound more "native." With a lot of practice and reinforcement, non-native English speakers can move towards sounding more native by using this one technique.


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