some strange reason, one component of ESL that seems to be missing from
many teacher- training ESL programs at the university level is phonology
and how to use it. The concept that an instructor would "waste time,"
with accent reduction seems to be widespread. As a result, many students
are being neglected in this area of their training. It is not currently
fashionable in many places. However, I have noticed that my ESL students,
at all levels:
1. Enjoy this type of training.
2. Are able to discriminate and distinguish words much better than others
at their overall level. This has a global effect on their comprehension.
3. Learn to read faster by having some control of the American English
sound system in advance of heavy exposure to written English.
4. Are understood better in a bank or mall by persons unaccustomed to
dealing with people who speak other languages.
5. Find good jobs quicker than some.
Some persons of a sociolinguistic persuasion feel that accent reduction
takes away the identity of some of the non-native speakers of English,
and that it is a putdown on who they are. Others think that accents are
"cute." Some accents ARE cute. However, when people are job
hunting, even in a field in which they are totally qualified, employers
and human resource persons tend to think in terms of, "Will clients
understand Mr. X on the telephone?" The best of both worlds is to
modify one's accent for the real world and to keep it for dating and avoiding
OBJECTIVES: This workshop is designed to introduce ESL teachers to American
English phonology, including basic phonemics and a review of phonetics,
including important allophones that cause an extensive array of problems
for Spanish speakers, in distinguishing and producing various English
sounds. The systems introduced are designed for instructors with some
or no background in this subject. Participants will be given a new text
"Listen and Speak; Applied Phonology for ESL Teachers of Spanish-Speaking
Students" (©2006 Ted Klein.) Exercises in this book are
immediately usable in the classroom for Spanish speakers and speakers
of many other languages and will be accompanied by an audio compact
This text will include
exercises to help your students resolve these problems. Concentration
will be on the spoken language and listening skills. Teachers whose students
are not Spanish speakers should also profit from the methods involved
in looking at the phonological systems of two languages and doing problem
analysis. My workshops are not connected with any other institution or
agency that I have been affiliated with or worked for. The cost of my
workshops will remain in line with payments made by the Texas Education
Agency to contract trainers/consultants for similar workshops, including
travel and housing when necessary.
1. An introduction to phonology, including phonemic and major phonetic
features of American English. Both segmental sounds (vowels and consonants)
and suprasegmental factors will be covered, including stress, juncture,
pitch and general intonation. Certain key acoustic factors will be included.
2. A step-by-step presentation of problems facing Spanish speakers on
each of the sounds of American English, what is causing the problems and
how to resolve them, for beginning, intermediate and advanced students.
3. Time: The subject matter can be covered in 4-6 hours.
4. Materials: Participants should bring three-ring binder notebooks for
notes and handouts.
5. Prerequisites: None.
6. Problems of speakers of other languages will be discussed with any
Theodore A. (Ted) Klein, Jr.