Phonology and Adolescent English Language Learners
Christine Olson, Saint Xavier University
Phonology is an important area of linguistics to consider when teaching English Language Learners. Phonology, the study of the sound systems of a language, is concerned with what sounds are in a language and what rules are for combining those sounds into larger units (Rowe & Levine, 2009). With proper support, younger students have an easier time acquiring a second language than adolescents. Adolescents have a developed phonology system in their first language, which interferes with learning a second language. Adolescent English Language Learners may mispronounce words, have difficulty spelling words, and may have difficulty decoding words while reading.
In order to support adolescent English Language Learners, teachers need to enhance the students’ awareness of speech sounds in the second language. Adolescent English Language Learners benefit from practicing the speech sounds of the new language. It is important for teachers to determine where their English Language Learners are having difficulty. Specifically, what sounds will each student have to practice? Once teachers determine where their students may need extra support, teachers can begin to work with their students on correct pronunciation, segmenting sounds, and/or decoding. While this may seem like a tedious task for teachers and students, there are many activities that can be adapted or implemented to address the phonological needs of English Language Learners.
Christine Olson is a graduate students studying special education with an endorsement in ESL at Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois.
|The ITBE Link - Summer 2014 - Volume 42 Number 2|