Words Worth Blog

Mother Tongue Influence and Its Impact on Spoken English

English is valued highly in the Indian society with a lot of prestige being attached to the language. A lot of time and energy is dedicated to teach or learn English in the Indian schools. Despite this, not much attention is given to enhance the speaking skill in the average Indian classroom. That the learner will pick up the skill from general classroom activities and instructions over a period of time is a false assumption made.As a result, the learners are not able to develop this skill and hence lack confidence while conversing in English.

To further this, though articulation of individual sounds while teaching this language is addressed, teaching of pronunciation is not given much importance either. In regular Indian classrooms, the importance of native-like accent is not given due stress. One strong reason that could be attributed to this could be that number of dialects found is so large that it is practically impossible to address all the accents in a classroom. This is serious challenge in the Indian classrooms. The areas of sound relating to spoken English and to pronunciation in the Indian context needs to be consciously addressed to counter this challenge and to make native-like accent in Indian learners more plausible.

The importance of pronunciation in communication cannot be denied. In fact it is as important as grammar and vocabulary. Yet, the evidence of mother tongue influence on English is very obvious. This manifests in the form of incorrect pronunciation.

Pronunciation error may be due to many issues. Guesswork or vagueness of the correct form of a word or sentence, or a general ineptness of the language could be the reason of mispronunciation. The most common reason is transfer or interference from the mother tongue. Generally, errors made in pronunciation are due to difference in the sound system and spelling symbols between the mother tongue and English.

As a regular practice the teacher is seen as a model for correct speaking in class. The learners are expected to be introduced to the pronunciation of words in English by their teacher during the day-to-day interaction. It is when the teacher her/himself has coloured pronunciation that the learners are unable to acquire correct skills in spoken English. The pronunciation samples they are exposed to in their classroom environment being inappropriate, the learners are most likely to adopt a similar pronunciation skill.

Added to this is the challenge of the fossilised sound system of the mother tongue of the learners that inhibits the acquisition of the pronunciation and sound system of the second language. It is understood that if the second language is introduced to the learners before puberty, the chances of attaining a native-like pronunciation skill is easier. This challenge can surely be met by using the mother tongue removal tool offered in good digital language lab. Words Worth English Language Lab has an inbuilt facility to meet this requirement.

To help reduce this problem in Indian schools, it is vital that while on one hand spoken English be encouraged and promoted, on the other hand, such sound patterns as which are likely to be confused and faltered be identified and drilled. The learners should be able to practise these sound patterns over and over again using a model voice to emulate.

It has been realised that such activities when done in digital language labs, not only help eliminate the mother tongue influence, but also hasten the acquisition of the target language. Digital language labs equipped with this facility allow learners to listen to correct pronunciation of a word and the check their own learning during the practise session.