Pronouncing a language is a skill. Every normal person is expert in the skill of pronouncing his own language; but few people are even moderately proficient at pronouncing foreign languages. Now there are many reasons for this, some obvious, some perhaps not so obvious. But I suggest that the fundamental reason why people in general do not speak foreign languages very much better than they do is that they fail to grasp the true nature of the problem of learning to pronounce, and consequently never set about tackling it in the right way. Far too many people fail to realize that pronouncing a foreign language is a skill—one that needs careful training of a special kind, and one that cannot be acquired by just leaving it to take care of itself. I think even teachers of language, while recognizing the importance of a good accent, tend to neglect, in their practical teaching, the branch of study concerned with speaking the language. So the first point I want to make is that English pronunciation must be taught; the teacher should be prepared to devote some of the lesson time to this, and should get the student to feel that here is a matter worthy of receiving his close attention. So, there should be occasions when other aspects of English, such as grammar or spelling, are allowed for the moment to take second place.
Apart from this question of the time given to pronunciation, there are two other requirements for the teacher: the first, knowledge; the second, technique.
It is important that the teacher should be in possession of the necessary information. This can generally be obtained from books. It is possible to get from books some idea of the mechanics of speech, and of what we call general phonetic theory. It is also possible in this way to get a clear mental picture of the relationship between the sounds of different languages, between the speech habits of English people and those, say, of your students. Unless the teacher has such a picture, any comments he may make on his students' pronunciation are unlikely to be of much use, and lesson time spent on pronunciation may well be time wasted.
26. What does the writer actually say about pronouncing foreign languages?
A. Only a few people are really proficient.
B. No one is really an expert in the skill.
C. There aren't many people who are even fairly good.
D. There are even some people who are moderately proficient.
27. The writer argues that going about the problem of pronunciation in the wrong way is
A. an obvious cause of not grasping the problem correctly
B. a fundamental consequence of not speaking well
C. a consequence of not grasping the problem correctly
D. not an obvious cause of speaking poorly
28. The best way of learning to speak a foreign language, he suggests, is by_______.
A. picking it up naturally as a child
B. learning from a native speaker
C. not concentrating on pronunciation as such
D. undertaking systematic work
29. The value the student puts on correct speech habits depends upon_______.
A. how closely he attends to the matter
B. whether it is English that is being taught
C. his teacher's approach to pronunciation
D. the importance normally given to grammar and spelling
30. How might the teacher find himself wasting lesson time?
A. By spending lesson time on pronunciation.
B. By making ill-informed comments upon pronunciation.
C. By not using books on phonetics in the classroom.
D. By not giving students a clear mental picture of the difference between sounds.
26. C 27. C 28. D 29. C
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