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Aml Ghonaim

Reflective paper 5

ECDI 5545

                                                    Reflective paper 5: Phonetics

     Phonetics refers to knowing how to produce the sound of a letter and where that sound occurs in the beginning or middle or end. Although, it is complex, but I am more interested in how phonetics can be used more in English language. It is a fundamental branch of linguistics which concerns how human beings make correct pronunciation. English pronunciation involves too many complexities for a learner. English second language learner interferes with English pronunciation. Listening is very important in enhancing phonetic awareness. Students can produce the correct sound they hear. Teachers need to describe the sound and its mouth position which can help students increase an awareness of sound differences. Teachers also need to focus on pronunciation features in order to help students to pronounce sound properly. Phonetics is dealing with increasing reading and writing skills. It facilitates the process of writing and reading with great comprehensions of words. If students understand phonetics then they will be able to read quickly, automatically, and more fluently. Teacher should give learners plenty of activities and practices to reinforce their ability in pronunciation. A learner who has mastered how the speech sounds of English are produced, will easily and effectively master many skills.

      In English, there is no relation between the system of pronunciation and the system of spelling but in Arabic there is a strong relation. Speakers of Arabic language may pronounce words, assuming that the English spelling system is like the spelling system of Arabic language. In this case, teachers have the responsibility to indicate to students how spelling differs from English and their native language. Each language has its own phonetics system. English second language teachers need to accommodate one's language to those who learn English as second language with the correct pronunciation of sounds.

The distribution of vowels and consonant sounds are different for each language. More specifically, Arabic language shares with English similarities as well as differences especially in phonetics system.

      There are phonemes common to both languages. For example, some consonants are common in English and Arabic (d,b,t,j,f,θ,ð,z,s,h,l,m,n,w,r,x). In English, /t/, /d/ is alveolar but in Arabic it is dental. These consonants sounds did not exist in Arabic language /p/,/g/,/tʃ/,/ʒ/,/ŋ/,/v/.However, we can find this sound /g/in some Arabic dialects such as the Egyptian dialect. Arabic language has three of English vowels, (e, i, u).But in Arabic the vowels are represented by the diacritics which is essential in spelling. There are many differences especially with place of articulation in the formation of consonants and vowels. Arabic learners face difficulties in pronunciation but I assure it is considered to be very few when I compare Arabic to other languages, so the learner can improve his pronunciation and get ride off all the obstacles. Correct pronunciation will facilitate communication with other people who speak English as their native language. I faced many difficulties in learning English especially incorrect pronunciation at college because there is a great lack of emphasis on pronunciation. Teaching pronunciation was rarely incorporated into the English program. I decided to be a specialist in this language to make it easy for Arabic speakers.

   ESL learners always suffer from the ability to master the correct phoneme for many words. They make mistakes in producing sounds which lead to incorrect pronunciation. Some learners fuse the sound of the mother tongue into the pronunciation of English language. Teachers need to raise ESL learner’s awareness and comprehension toward the sound of English and to improve the quality of their speech. There are many activities and exercises developed to enhance the learning performance of English pronunciation.

 Teachers can use many computer programs in class in order to improve learners in pronunciation. Learners should have the opportunity to practice how and where they can produce sounds. 


EDU 5545: Reflective paper 5: Phonetics                                March 25, 2010    I. Munro


            Pronunciation is generally not well taught in ESL/EFL classes. In fact, it is often not included among skills (speaking, reading, writing, listening) given in the typical course curriculum, and in the lessons archive of the invaluable ESL Teachers Board, an online source for ESL/EFL teachers (, there are virtually no tips for teaching pronunciation among the abundance of ideas for teaching vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension and the like.

            This omission no doubt reflects in part a lack of training in phonetics among EFL teachers, but perhaps is a result also of lack of agreement among ESL professionals on whether pronunciation can be effectively taught at all, at least to older students. This is the subject of Pardo’s study (2004), which surveys research dealing with pronunciation instruction. Pardo finds that the majority of the studies published in the three decades prior to her study conclude that attention to pronunciation is effective.  A more recent study by Venkatagiri and Lewis (2007), however, suggests that while L2 learners differ greatly in their pronunciation skills, the differences may owe more to their metalinguistic capabilities – their ability to think about language – than to phonological training. Others have suggested factors like a gift for mimicry as being more influential on learners’ pronunciation skills than actual instruction.

            Even if, as Pardo suggests, most researchers support teaching pronunciation to L2 learners, there is little agreement among them on what types of instruction are most useful. Pardo, for example, concludes that fluency-oriented training is ultimately more helpful than a segmental focus on individual, specific sounds, while Liu (2008) calls for more attention to explicit phonological training.

            Perhaps the most salient reason why ESL teachers shy away from teaching pronunciation, however, is that it can be very difficult to do within an actual classroom context. Even if one has had training in phonetics or at least recognizes the need to devote time to pronunciation, teaching it in practice should involve knowing something about the L1 language or languages which are influencing students’ pronunciation strategies, and then working closely with individual students, phoneme by phoneme, to restructure the way they are shaping sounds.

            I’ve had a couple of experiences with teaching pronunciation that can bear this out. For some years I worked with small groups of Japanese students who were spending the academic year at my college. Armed with Prator and Wallace’s Manual of American English Pronunciation (1985), which features diagrams of the mouth, I spent hours with these students working on their pronunciation. I was untrained in either Japanese or phonetics, but because the group was so small, some progress was made.  I had to accept that some sounds, /l/ and /r/ particularly, might never be adequately distinguished by the students, though I was practically reaching into their mouths to get their tongues into the right place. They did make progress in the overall clarity of their pronunciation over the year.

            On the other hand, with students in Morocco I was unable to make any progress, simply because of numbers. Though my students were English majors, the pronunciation of some was so poor that their speech was incomprehensible; I often thought they were speaking to me in Moroccan Arabic before realizing they were attempting to speak English. I attempted to include pronunciation practice in my “speech” class, but the number of students made it impossible: there were over a hundred students in the class. Even choosing only the more accomplished students and giving them individual attention, I was spending three or four hours a day on pronunciation with limited effect.

            Perhaps as a result of the lack of attention to pronunciation in EFL/ESL classes, a new industry devoted to “accent reduction” for NNS of English has sprung up, promising clients that – usually for a considerable price – they can learn to “speak like an American.” The conflation between “pronunciation” and “accent” is itself interesting, since effective communication is surely more closely related to clear pronunciation than “accent.” The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however, does not make this distinction; “accent-related,” but not “pronunciation-related” job discrimination is forbidden under U.S. law.




Liu, Y. (2008). The effectiveness of interactive instruction on the intonation learning of Chinese college learners. Cross-cultural Communication, 4, 90-103.

Pardo, D. (2004). Can pronunciation be taught? A review of research and implications for teaching.

            Revista Estudios Ingleses 17, 6-38.

Prator, D.H.,  & Wallace, R.B. (1985). Manual of American English pronunciation.  New York: Holt,

            Rinehart & Winston.

Venkatagiri, H.S., & Lewis, J.M. (2007). Phonological awareness and speech comprehensibility: an

            exploratory study. Language Awareness, 16, 263-277.




EDCI 5545 Reflective Paper #5

Diane Olson

March 23, 2010

Chapter 2/ Vowels


            I have been speaking English for almost 50-plus years and not once have I never stopped to think about how my mouth was shaped when I spoke. I did not think about the position of my tongue during speech or how it affected the way I talked. When I taught English as Second Language, I did not teach these techniques to the students. I simple had the students listen to me and mimic what I was saying. Who knew there was front (unrounded), central (unrounded) and back (rounded) vowel sounds?  Since reading this chapter, I think about what my mouth is doing while I am speaking. I think this is a valuable bit of information to have when teaching English as a Second Language. We need to think of these techniques when teaching oral reading. Lip rounding is very important for producing sounds like boot, book, and boat. I can see that now. However, having the lips apart is important when saying beat, bit, and bait. The phonetic symbols for vowels do rarely correspond to English spelling because there are many more vowel sounds in English than there are vowel letters. That is something else that I did not know. In fact everything in this chapter has made me stop to think about how people speak and that this may be why non-English speaking people have accents. They also have trouble saying certain words in the English Language. When ESL students pronounce the tense vowels of English, they often omit the semi-vowel, producing vowels that sound to the English ear more like the lax counterparts of the tense vowels. We need to teach ESL students that there are pure vowels and semi-vowels. The semi-vowels are called off-glides and reflect the fact that there is movement of the tongue during the pronunciation of each of the tense vowels. I have never heard of pure vowels, semi-vowels, or off-glides. Then there are the diphthongs or complex vowels. In fact, there are three complex vowels. How is a person supposed to keep all of this information straight? How do we absorb this information so that we can teach it to the ESL student? It will take me some time to learn and remember all of these new concepts. It is interesting that when the letter /h/ is at the front of the word, the formation of the mouth is determined by the vowel that follows the /h/. When teaching ESL students, we must teach them the similarity between the semi-vowels and their corresponding vowels. ESL students have difficulty with words like ‘would’ and ‘year’ because students omit the word-initial semi-vowels. We as teachers can tell the students to make two identical vowel sounds in succession and to emphasize the second of the identical vowel. This is taken directly from the book. I think it would be difficult to explain to and teach the ESL student to make two identical vowel sounds when they probably are not that familiar with our vowels in the English language. Especially when the book says for them to emphasize the second of the identical vowels. Will they know what succession means? I find this all very difficult to make any sense of let alone try to teach it to a non-English speaker. I think what we need to do is to learn all of these concepts as good as we can. Then when we go to teach English to the non-English speaker, it will become second nature for us to teach it to them. I really enjoyed teaching ESL. I thought I did a pretty good job at teaching them English. However, I now see that I was only teaching them the tip of the iceberg. I was missing all of the parts that are written in this chapter. Now, when I teach ESL students, I will know how to do my job a lot better. I will be able to think in a new way, but use parts of the old and new techniques.


Erin Strack

EDCI 5545

Reflective Paper #4- Pragmatics                                   

This, pragmatics, is one of the most interesting parts of language to me because it’s such a great outlet for humor. Pragmatics deal with how a language is interpreted. While only one interpretation is usually the intended one, the possibility of a multitude of interpretations also exists, and the confusion that accompanies the process of trying to ascertain the one intended interpretation is usually outright hilarious.

Fromkin, Rodman, and Hyams (2007) spoke of illocutionary force, or the speaker’s intention (p. 207). This is a very tricky part of language because it not only depends on what is being spoken in that very moment, but the speaker’s entire background and culture also affect their intentions. The very same words could be spoken in two different cultures and carry two completely different intentions behind them. I learned this the hard way in Kazakhstan. The Kazakh culture is very different from American culture- very polite, very willing to please, and very service-oriented. So much so, in fact, that it’s part of their culture to give any item, no matter it’s monetary or sentimental value, to anyone who expresses interest in that item. Therefore, the words “I like your…… ” are very dangerous words in the Kazakh culture. The speaker’s intention, or the illocutionary force, is very different depending on who is saying these words. If I as an American say “I like your necklace,” my intention is to compliment someone. If I as a Kazakh speak those very same words “I like your necklace,” my intention is to be offered the item. This means words that are seen as polite in one culture can be very rude in another culture. It took me weeks of coming home with other people’s earrings, bracelets, lipstick, before I learned to stop giving compliments. I also quickly realized, by the looks on people’s faces, that the correct response when I was given a complement was NOT to say thank you and walk away!

The authors also spoke of deixis, the idea that certain words or phrases can only be correctly interpreted if you know the context in which they were spoken (p. 202). The time and place deixis are often the most difficult (and cause the most trouble when misunderstood) for my ESL students. I spoke in my last paper about how my Kazakh students would confuse “here” and “there.” My ESL students here in Kansas City constantly mix-up the words yesterday and tomorrow to say something like “Tomorrow I was late for my bus and my mom had to drive me.” They have the same kind of trouble with the words next and last, these and those, this and that.  These types of mistakes are pretty understandable though, and if I correct them enough it doesn’t take them long to memorize which word means what. What’s more interesting to me, however, is how different cultures can create this same confusion when speaking even the same language. I had many Hispanic friends when I went to college in Texas, and they all spoke English fluently, but even when we were speaking the same language their time deictic expressions meant something completely different from mine. When they would say the words “right now,” they usually meant two or three hours from now, whereas I meant right now.  If I was meeting my roommate at a restaurant and she called to say she was leaving our apartment “right now,” I knew it meant I’d be waiting for another hour or so. Their “right now” just meant something completely different from my “right now.” Even though we were speaking the same words, our different cultures led us to interpret each other’s intentions in different ways.



 Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., &Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language. (8th Ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth.



EDCI 5545

March 4, 2010

Hyunsim Kim

Reflective Paper 4: Pragmatics

            Fromkin, Rodman, and Hyams (2007) stated that “pragmatics is concerned with the interpretation of linguistic meaning in context” (p. 199). When ESL students interact with others in English, they often make numerous mistakes. One of the biggest reasons for the mistakes is that ESL students may have insufficient pragmatics competences. According to Fromkin et al. (2007), discourse analysis involves question of style, appropriateness, and grammatical properties, and so on. This means if ESL students learn the types of discourses, they can communicate with others and express their thoughts and feelings easily. In other words, ESL students can get a pragmatics competency successfully. Therefore, ESL educators should teach pragmatics in the classroom in order to not only decrease their mistakes but also communicate with others successfully.

            The following is an example of ESL students’ grammatical mistakes and pragmatics problems in communication: One day my ESL teacher asked us what we did in the morning. Most students answered, “I take a shower in the morning.” Using the correct tense is a common mistake for ESL students because they do not know the grammatically correct way to speak. As well, they might not be familiar with speaking in past tense, even though they know the grammatical rules. My ESL teacher explained that when we speak about the event in the past, we should use past tense instead of present tense. Moreover, in the classroom, we practiced a lot by imagining other situations, such as what we did yesterday, what we did before we came here, and what we did last year, and so on. Even though I still make a lot of mistakes in conversation, I recognize these mistakes after I speak, and I try to gain a pragmatics competency in communication.  

Another example of a mistake that I made in the ESL classroom was when I answered incorrectly when my teacher asked me a negative or a kind of polite question. My teacher said, “Would you mind closing the door?” I said, “Yes,” and then I closed the door. At that time, my teacher was not satisfied because his expectation was not matched to my answer. The reason I had this kind of mistake was because I was not intimate to the polite way and negative types of question. After that, my teacher let students practice in other situations, such as “Don’t you think…,” “…, isn’t it,” “Why didn’t you…,” etc.

As you can see, ESL students can have a pragmatics competence by a lot of practice and ESL teachers’ assistance. Thus, it is obvious that teaching pragmatics would help ESL learners understand better and engage more actively in a discourse. Also, teaching pragmatics would promote students to think at a higher level and enable them to better understand pragmatics. 



Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson-Wadsworth.



Erin Strack

EDCI 5545                              Reflective Paper #3- Semantics

            I enjoyed this chapter on semantics so much more than the chapter on syntax. To me, semantics are much more important than syntax when it comes to teaching my students English. Many of my newly arrived students who know very little English are so afraid they will say something wrong grammatically that they don’t even try to speak. I tell them over and over all that matters is that they can communicate to me what they want to say, and we’ll worry about how to say it correctly later. I know syntax is important but I always focus on semantics first.

            I like what the authors said about the usefulness of dictionaries. They’re only helpful in defining a word if you understand the words in the definition, which are usually just as challenging as the word you are trying to define. It frustrates me when my 5th Grade ESL students are in their mainstream class completing a test and their classroom teacher tells me she’s modified the test for my students by letting them use a dictionary. It shouldn’t count as a modification if it doesn’t do any good. It’s not that the students don’t know how to use a dictionary either. I’ve had them find the word and read the definition to me, then ask them what the word means and they still don’t understand because the vocabulary of the dictionary is too advanced for them. We ordered elementary level picture dictionaries and children’s dictionaries that have much simpler explanations and they were great. The problem was, they didn’t have any of the words my 5th graders needed to know in them, like metamorphosis or condensation or phylum. The best solution I’ve come up with is using Google Images and typing in the word so they can have a picture to associate with the advanced vocab. Technology is a huge help.

            When I read the section talking about polysemous words it reminded me of a common series of children’s book that I used to read and that our teachers still read to the lower grades. They were Amelia Bedelia books, and the entire theme of the series was this type of polysemous word play. The character in the book is told to “dress the chicken” for dinner so she puts it in clothes and a hat, and when she’s told to “draw the curtains” she sits down with a pencil and paper instead of pulling them closed. The books continue like this. All of the 1st and 2nd and 3rd graders laugh at Amelia’s confusion when she gets in trouble, and my ESL students are completely lost. The same thing happens when my 5th graders do a whole unit in writing over idioms. Like our book said, the meanings of these idioms just have to be memorized, because they usually make absolutely no sense. Every year my students ask me why we say “you drive me up a wall” if we’re annoyed with someone or “I’m in a pickle” if we’re in trouble and every year I tell them I have no clue. I remember being just as confused when I was in Kazakhstan and trying to learn their idioms. They are definitely an odd part of language.

            Something else that often confused me in Kazakhstan was when my students would mix up their antonyms. It happened all the time, especially with the words “here” and “there” for some reason. These situations were particularly confusing, especially since I changed classrooms depending on which class I was seeing. I would tell my students to meet me here in one classroom, then I’d return and they’d all be gone. I’d find them all sitting expectantly in a different classroom, asking me why I was late. It happened even with my University students who spoke almost fluent English. This, again, is why I say semantics are more important than syntax. They could say everything grammatically correct but they meant something completely different from what they said, and it lead to utter and complete confusion.



 Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., &Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language. (8th Ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth.



Melissa Thomas            EDCI 5545 Applied Linguistics for ESOL teachers                   Reflection 2
Fromkin (2007) chapter 4  Syntax

            This chapter opens with the familiar idea we saw in the previous chapter about morphology; the idea is that language is infinite and that humans have the ability to produce and understand an infinite amount of sentences. That we are designed and equipped to perform such complex tasks suggests an organizational structure that makes this profound amount of work humanly possible. The organizational structures that our brains understand and produce at the sentence level reflect the syntax of language.
            All languages have rules for proper sentence formation and word order. English is a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) language, although other languages are not. And while it seems illogical to me that a language would frequently produce sentences with the order OVS, for example, I also recognize that the reason I believe that to be illogical is more because my own mother tongue is an SVO language. Logic has nothing to do with it at all; it is my personal, daily, deep experience of language that is influencing what I perceive to be normal or abnormal. Certainly there is the chance that I will have students who think English word order is odd and when that time comes, I will agree that the order is arbitrary but that the structure and consistency is not at all arbitrary and in fact is systematic.
            In addition to word order, the rules of syntax tell us about the grammatical relationships of a sentence, for example, how the subject and direct object work together to make meaning. The differences between “I said what I meant” and “I meant what I said” are good examples of how these grammatical relationships affect the meaning of the sentence. And on another level, these specific sentences illicit the need for English Language Learners to develop their skills in L2, so that they will be able to say what they mean to say. Even a native speaker is not always able to perform such high level tasks when seeking to be precise or diplomatic.
            Sentence structure can be illustrated using tree diagrams to visually demonstrate the relationships between constituents in a sentence or phrase. The example of “synthetic buffalo hides” on p. 119 shows that the relationship is ambiguous, even if we do know the parts of speech of each word. Which is synthetic, the buffalo or the hide? A third possibility that was not shown in this example is that there is a synthetic buffalo and he is hiding, such that the relationship is yet again different.  To know the relationship, then, requires human interaction with another, or continued interaction with the text. This, after all, is a primary goal of communication.
            Not only do parts of phrases relate to one another by following rules of syntax, they also relate to other phrases. Phrase structure trees and rules show how there are many variations in sentence development, but even so, there are limitations and more common or frequent possibilities than others. I saw this as I was reading to my seven year old before bed the other night. If he’s too tired to read to me, I read to him, but end the sentence before the last word. Without fail, he adds a word that is syntactically appropriate. I want to help unlock that skill in my ELL students and look forward to finding the resources to do that with them.

Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language (8th edition). Fort Worth, TX: Thompson Learning.




Reflective Paper #3: Semantics

R. Dawn Palmer

University of Missouri – Kansas City


            Semantics is what carries meaning from speaker to listener and writer to reader. It is at the very core of communication, and without it, language is meaningless. Once an individual who is learning a second language has grasped a basic foundation of semantics in a new language, then he or she can use context clues to determine the meanings of new/unknown words. This use of context clues to build vocabulary and proficiency in a new language would be related to lexical semantics, “which is concerned with the meanings of words, and the meaning relationships among words” (Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams, 2007, p. 174). As a reading teacher, I use many lessons in context clues in order to help my students develop vocabulary – including building a semantical framework for understanding an unknown word.

            For teaching context clues, I present students with a sentence that includes a new vocabulary word. Together, we make predictions as to the word’s meaning, thinking aloud through the process of using the known words around the new word in order to make sense of the new term. Even though direct instruction of vocabulary is essential for learning a new language, it is also important for non-native speakers to recognize the importance and benefit of using context clues to determine the semantical meaning of a word as it appears in a specific sentence or passage. This skill of interpreting language is also critical when examining anomalies such as metaphors and idioms.

            In many ways, being able to correctly interpret metaphors and idioms is an indicator of the highest level of mastery in a language. “The fact that we are able to understand, or at least interpret, anomalous expressions, and at the same time recognize their anomalous nature, demonstrates our knowledge of the semantic system and semantic properties of the language” (Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams, 2007, p. 183). If I use an idiom such as “You better be careful with your spending! That money is burning a hole in your pocket.” and the receiver does not understand the semantic properties of all of the words in the phrase, then he or she will not be able to determine that I am not suggesting that money is literally hot and able to ruin a pair of pants by igniting the pockets into flames. On the other hand, if the listener knows that fire acts quickly and that a hole in one’s pocket would result in money falling out of one’s possession, then he or she can determine the meaning of the idiom. Additionally, by using context clues, the listener could figure out that I was talking about losing or wasting money based on the way I framed the idiom with the preceding sentence, “You better be careful with your spending!” This concept is also important for teachers to recognize so that they get into the practice of helping English language learners understand idiomatic language and other anomalies by including words and phrases the listener can use as context clues.

            Another effective strategy for teaching the semantic value of words is semantic mapping. This strategy calls for students to identify an unknown vocabulary word, preferably from their own reading, and then use a graphic organizer to visually display the word’s semantic features. In order to fully grasp the term’s meaning, the learner is asked to identify synonyms for the word as well as antonyms. Additionally, in order to fully immerse themselves in the word’s usage, students are asked to provide examples of the word as well as non-examples. The sample graphic organizer I have attached is an adaptation from Janet Allen’s book Word, Words, Words (1999).

I have found that even though students sometimes struggle with supplying appropriate antonyms or non-examples, when I work with them until they understand it, they always end up having a much more concrete understanding of the new vocabulary word.

            Even though I don’t typically focus on spelling in my remedial reading classes – spelling isn’t a feature of reading comprehension, it is a memorization skill – I do work much more intently on it with my English language learners due to the ambiguity that can exist when they encounter homonyms. Some homonyms are spelled the same, but others are not and understanding the difference between bear and bare in their various contexts can be challenging enough when you consider that both of those words may be verbs, bear may be a noun and bare may even be an adjective! In order to best prepare my English language learners for interpreting the semantics of a sentence, I must also stress spelling when it comes to homonyms.

            By using context clues, semantic mapping, and spelling drills, I can better prepare my students who are learning English to interpret unknown words, building vocabulary, and understand the English language as a whole.



Allen, J. (1999). Words, words, words. Portland: Stenhouse Publishers.

Fromkin, V., Hyams, N., & Rodman, R. (2007). An introduction to language (8th ed.). Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.

Johnson, C., & Johnson, D. (2008). Why teach vocabulary? Retrieved February 21, 2008, from



Jing Zou

EDCI 5545

Feb. 23, 2009


Reflective Paper 3: Meaning of Language

            As Fromkin, Rodman and Hyams (2007) write, all of the knowledge about meaning “extends to an unlimited set of sentences, just like your syntactic knowledge, and is part of the grammar of the language” (p. 174). However, how the meaning of sentences—semantics, differs from syntax, is that “if you know the meaning of a sentence, you know its truth conditions” (p. 174). This feature of semantics presents problems to children and L2 learners when their cognitive or language abilities are not proficient enough to provide knowledge of the “conditions”. Teachers, on the other hand, could use semantic rules in teaching other linguistic components.

            Entailment, for instance, can be applied in vocabulary acquisition. While synonyms and antonyms are often used for memorizing word meanings, their extensions—paraphrases and contradictories, might be more effective in understanding and retention because of the conditions they create. Use one example in the chapter, the learners may have knowledge of the verb postpone but have difficulty with its synonymous phrase put off, since there are too many verb phrases contain put and off. By explicitly pairing sentences like “Jack put off the meeting” and “Jack postponed the meeting” as paraphrases, their meanings will be acquired with ease, thanks to the same condition—“meeting”.

       Semantic feature categorization can also facilitate learners to enhance lexical and syntactic information. Teachers may use definition activities as a theme of one class, in which the first task is to identify the semantic features of words as cuckoo, crow and peacock. After the students reaching to an agreement of “bird”, they will be asked to define “bird” and the possible answers can be “a bird can fly” and “a bird has feathers”. Then the teacher will challenge them to fit a specific word such as penguin into their definition. If they decide that penguins are birds, but cannot fly and have no feather, the students will have to modify their definitions. To reinforce the effect of the activity, the students will read an article in which many animals’ names were never seen before, and try to identify some names for birds. This method can be especially beneficial for L2 learners in understanding unfamiliar words or phrases by reading the context, when they have “considerable knowledge about the meaning relationships among different words in their mental lexicons” (Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams, 2007, p. 189).

       In the meantime, the authors note that knowing a language also means “knowing fixed phrases, consisting of more than one word, with meanings that cannot be inferred from the meanings of the individual words” (p. 184). For L2 speakers, certain nonlinguistic knowledge, such as cultural differences in expression and thought are required to understand the target language. A Chinese L1 speaker may understand English idioms like “never too old to learn” and “kill two birds with one stone” easily because these expressions in Chinese are almost identical. In other cases such as “cry over the spilt milk” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the free” often need further explanation, otherwise they might be understood as “regret for the wasted milk” or a “statement of a physical law”. If the teachers are not able to translate the idioms into the learners’ L1, then they must know how to put these expressions into appropriate context for the students to comprehend.

            Moreover, the learners also need to refer to real life discourse conditions to learning how to use a learned language component properly. In the case of those who have trouble in distinguishing the use of evening and night, teachers may show a video of English evening news and remind the students to pay attention on when do the announcers say “good evening” and “good night”. By watching movies and TV, the learners can learn how to properly greet people in different occasions and acquire polysemous vocabulary like “Freeze!” and “turn in”. After all, semantics relies on both linguistics and knowledge of the real world.



Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language (8th Ed). Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth.



            Geoffrey Talboy

Dr. Wei

EDCI 5545

Reflective Paper 4

When discussing vowels and how they are formed as individual pieces of the speech pattern, it is important to remember there are no words in the English language that exist without vowels.  Teaching pronunciation is something I believe the English as a Second Language curriculum dangerously avoids.  It is human to avoid making people feel stupid or inferior, so I think we as educators miss prime opportunities to help our students to make the corrections that are necessary in speaking English.  I also believe that one of the major reasons we avoid these educational or correction opportunities is because we ourselves are not exactly sure how to fix the problem.  We do not know how we make the sounds we do, so how is it we can teach a person, who is not pronouncing correctly, to make the necessary adjustments.

            Our dialect has a great impression on how the sounds are pronounced.  If you are learning to speak the language, you are going to imitate the sounds and the production of sound that is around you and you are exposed to daily.  It is imperative for an English as a Second Language teacher to make their pronunciations as close to the General English dialect as possible.  This is definitely a difficult request for teachers, it is almost like you are being asked to speak a new language yourself, but you are a model and the sounds you produce should place your students at the best possible advantage. 

            “If students have difficulties in pronouncing words such as ‘would’ and ‘year’, ESL teachers can exploit the similarity between the semi-vowels and their corresponding vowels” (Avery & Ehrlich, 1995, p. 35).  My Spanish speaking students, who have very little experience with the English language pronounce the word “year” much like the word “jeer.”  Now, it would make sense to those who are familiar with the English language that these mistakes in pronunciation are just problems with accent.  To me, this is something I did not know exactly how to address the issue.  I did my study and research, but I could not find simple exercises for my students to use.  The exercises I did have were intended for someone like myself, who is an English speaker and learning about pronunciation.  I found this disheartening.  It was a limited exercise and something I did not see as a proper exercise to present to someone just learning English.  Most notably, the words given in the practice were very advanced and would not be familiar to my students. 

            Knowing what exercises will assist your students in pronunciation gives them a leg up in the learning of the English language.  It does not give them everything and there will be mistakes and problems, but the ability to diagnose and correct those problems creates a classroom built on success.



Avery, P., & Ehrlich, S. (1995). Teaching American English pronunciation. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press




EDCI 5545

Group Discussion Leader

Joe Herdler

Word Stress Placement.




Part One


Gather into three groups and write out the words below, indicating the stressed vowel using both methods of indicating stress, and indicate whether or not the word is a compound word.




Nouns                                                                       Verbs


Airplane                                                                     Produce                                        

Artichoke                                                                   Eliminate

Conflict                                                                      Harvest

Biscuit                                                                        Carry

Railroad                                                                      Destroy

Tomato                                                                       Create

Ocean                                                                         Observe

Seaway                                                                       Humiliate

Canal                                                                          Congratulate

Observatory                                                                Graduate

Lighthouse                                                                  Abdicate




Part Two


Now, I would like for each group to develop a simple strategy for teaching the concept of vowel stress to new learners of English, and present your ideas to the class.



Joe Herdler

EDCI 5545


Annotated Bibliography


Jiang, N. (2004). Semantic transfer and its implications for vocabulary teaching in a second language. The Modern Language Journal, 88 (iii), 416-432.



This article is a replication of a previous study by the author published in 2002, and studied semantic transfer in L2 learning in a Korean ESL environment (Jiang, 2004). It is a quantitative study, with some statistical data presented. The study asked Korean ESL students to make a judgment on whether or not a pair of English words was semantically related (Jiang, 2004). The word pairs either had or did not have the same Korean translation, and the results demonstrated that when the word pairs had the same translation, the semantic judgment response was significantly faster and the judgments were more often correct (Jiang, 2004). This article was well laid out, with clearly marked sections for the introduction (listed as ‘present study’), method, results, discussion and conclusion. There were four tables, an interesting flowchart graphic, and an extensive bibliography. In all, this was is an excellent article.




Nassaji, H. (2003). Higher-level and lower-level text processing skills in advanced ESL reading comprehension. The Modern Language Journal, 87 (ii), 261-276.


This quantitative study examined higher-level “syntactic and semantic processes” and lower-level word recognition (Nassaji, 2003, p. 261). The participants were 60 adult ESL students whose L1 was Farsi. The participants were given a two hour reading assignment, and were tested for reading comprehension, syntactic, semantic, lexical, phonological, and orthographic processing skills (Nassaji, 2003, p. 261). The findings indicate that lower level word recognition is essential for L2 reading comprehension (Nassaji, 2003, p. 261). This article was well designed, with clear sections for introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion, further suggestions for research, and as with all publications by Nassaji, a strong pedagogical implications section. The main classroom implication given was the necessity of continuing instruction on word recognition processes even with advanced ESL learners. (Nassaji, 2003).  There were advanced statistical methods used, and there were five tables presented, along with an extensive bibliography.





Jiang, N. (2007). Selective integration of linguistic knowledge in adult second language learning. Language Learning, 57 (1), 1-33.


This article is a quantitative study concerned with the “development of integrated knowledge or automatic competence” in adult SLA learners (Jiang, 2007, p.1). The study involved 52 participants reading sentences for comprehension as fast as they could from a computer one word at a time, pressing a key to get the next word. The study looked at the sensitivity of ESL (Chinese L1) learners compared to L1 English speakers to ungrammaticality based on the delay in reading the ungrammatical words and sentences. The article has an extensive introduction which touched on retention, knowledge (semantic) transfer, input and output reactions and competence; as well as a sound literature review. The method section was clear and to the point, and the results and discussion was in depth. There are three tables presented, and basic statistics are used. The conclusion is short, and there are no pedagogical implications stated.




Loucky, J.P. (2001). When eastern oriental meets western occidental language system: crossing the Kanji barrier. Bulletin of Seinan Jogajuin Junior College, 48 (12), 19-38.



This article is concerned with improving strategies for helping ESL learners from kanji based language backgrounds more effectively acquire reading skills and English vocabulary (Loucky, 2000). The article has an extensive introduction and background section of the use of Chinese Kanji and their exportation to both Korea and Japan. Then the concept of a ‘threshold level’ of a minimum English vocabulary for the ESL learner to independently read is discussed. The author develops a taxonomy of vocabulary and semantic learning strategies and then has recommendations for improving the pedagogy of the ESL classroom for learners from a kanji language background. This article has one troublesome problem, which is the author’s reference to oriental learners. Today, it is considered inappropriate to refer to people as oriental, the accepted term being Asian. This article despite the use of an unacceptable ethnic label is interesting and helpful to the ESL educator.



Bitchener, J. (2004). The relationship between the negotiation of meaning and language learning: a longitudinal study. Language Awareness, 13 (2), 81-95.


This qualitative study was a longitudinal examination of negotiated interaction and L2 language learning (Bitchener, 2004). The participants were thirty pre-intermediate ESL students at a New Zealand university. The participants were given two communication tasks consisting of an information gap exercise and decision making, and the correct responses were negotiated between a same gender pair of learners. The study tracked them for twelve weeks to determine how well the learners retained the lexical and semantic relationships of the words that they learned by having them repeat the same exercises with the same partner at three different times (Bitchener, 2004). The results suggest that there is strong retention when the correct semantic meaning of a word is found by negotiation rather than by rote learning. This article was interesting, had a solid introduction/background, methods and results section. There were five tables presented, and a solid conclusion.


Chimbganda, A.B. (2000). Communication strategies used in the writing of answers in biology by ESL first year science students of the         

        University of Botswana. English for Specific Purposes, 19 (4), 305-329.


This qualitative article studies the communications strategies of university level ESL biology students in Botswana, and examines four of these strategies, including risk taking, risk avoidance, L2 based strategies, and semantic simplification (Chimbganda, 2000). The subject area of biology was chosen because it was the only science subject that required writing both short and extended texts as part of the content acquisition evaluation process. The article has a separate introduction and background section, a section devoted to research questions, a method and data analysis section and a results section. The data analysis section is subdivided into ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ sections, though this paper only qualitative. The only statistical analyses presented were very basic percentages and means. Two tables were presented along with several graphs, and a strong implications section was given after the results. The author pointed out the limitations of his study, and gave a very short conclusion.



Juffs, A. (1998). The Acquisition of semantics-syntax correspondences and verb frequencies in ESL materials. Language Teaching Research, 2 (2), 93-123.


This article is a qualitative analysis of the “frequency of verbs and their syntactic requirements” in a poplar series of ESL textbooks titled Interchange (Juffs, 1998, p.93). The author performed a corpus analysis of Interchange and found that series in particular and ESL materials in general might under-represent classes of verbs that are known to cause difficulty for ESL learners (Juffs, 1998). The author digitized all 71,933 words from the series, including supplemental material, and analyzed the verb content (Juffs, 1998). This article has an extensive introduction and background sections followed by a very short and direct methods section. The results are presented with four tables and one graph, which are followed by a solid discussion and a short conclusions section. The paper is well cited but contains few classroom implications; the only suggestion being given is that teachers and ESL material writers need to provide more instruction on difficult verb classes.



Haznedar, B. (2006). The acquisition of tense-aspect in child second language English. Second Language Research, 23 (4), 383-417.


This qualitative article is a longitudinal case study of a fifty month old male Turkish ESL student living in the UK, who was exposed to English starting at age forty eight months. The study followed him for approximately eighteen months, and data collection was done by tape recording (Haznedar, 2006). The two research aims were to test the Aspect Hypothesis and second, to test Gavruseva’s aspectual features account. This author claims that the data from this study does not support either hypothesis. This article has the usual introduction and background sections where the theories and literature review are presented. The actual method of data collection and analysis were presented the present study section, followed by the results presented in six tables and accompanied with discussion and the conclusion. The paper is well cited, and extremely theoretical, with little pedagogical or classroom implications presented.



Sheng, L., McGregor, K.K., & Marian, V. (2006). Lexical-semantic organization in bilingual children: evidence from a repeated word association

        task.  Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49 (3), 572-587.


This article is a quantitative study that compares the lexical-semantic organization of bilingual children with English L1 mono-lingual children (Sheng, McGregor & Marian, 2006). Each child was given thirty six words and generated three associations per word, the responses coded as either paradigmatic or syntagamatic. Both groups demonstrated similar response patterns but also had subtle differences (Sheng et al, 2006). The results show that there is a “parallel development in bilingual’s first and second language lexical-semantic skills”, and further suggests that bilingualism may improve the organization of the semantic lexicon (Sheng et al, 2006, p.572). The article is organized into an introduction/present study, methodology and data analysis, and results sections. The results were presented in three tables and two sets of graphs followed by an in depth discussion. Extensive statistical analysis was used in the data analysis. This article gave few classroom implications, though it suggested areas for future research.




Fraser, C. (2007). Reading rate in L1 Mandarin and L2 English across five reading tasks. The Modern Language Journal, 91 (iii), 372-394.


This article is an in depth quantitative study and comparison of L1 and L2 reading and task rates between two groups of Mandarin speakers, one located in China and another in Canada (Fraser, 2007). The results showed rate differences between L1 and L2 tasks in both groups, but the Chinese group had a faster performance on some L2 tasks and all L1 tasks, while the Canadian group had higher memorization and written recall task scores (Fraser, 2007). This article had an extensive introduction as well as methodology section, and the literature review is well referenced. The data analysis used sophisticated statistical analysis, and the results were presented in five tables and two sets of graphs. The discussion and conclusion section was thorough and well presented. This study provided no classroom implications, but provided insight into various factors that effect L1 and L2 rates of performance among ESL learners.


Joe Herdler

EDCI 5545


Reflective Paper Three


            Semantics is defined as the “…historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as linguistic development” (Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary, 2005, p.1129). The text defines semantics in linguistic terms as the “…study of the linguistic meaning of morphemes, words, phrases and sentences” (Fromkin, Rodman, & Hyams, 2007, p.559). These two definitions demonstrate the duality of semantics; on the one hand the semantic meaning of a word has deep psychological significance to the individual and historical significance to the culture of the individual; and on the other hand, it is a rather mechanistic study of the many linguistic features of a word, phrase or sentence. Semantic study routinely touches on and sometimes becomes deeply involved with the “…meaning of meaning”, yet as the text points out, “speakers of a language can easily understand what is said”, and successfully communicate with each other without philosophizing on each word spoken (Fromkin et al, 2007, p.173).

            Semantics depend not only upon the simple meaning of the word, such as beer or giraffe, but on the context of the sentence in which the word is used. For example, if a customer in a store in Kyoto asked for a ‘kirin’ (pronounced ki-ri-n), they might be given a beer. However, if the same customer went to an exotic animal dealer and asked for the same thing, the sales staff would ask where the customer would like to have their giraffe delivered. In the first instance, the word Kirin is a common brand of beer, and in the second instance, it is the modern Japanese word for giraffe. This is an example of lexical semantics, which is the study of the “…meaning of words and the meaning relationships” of words (Fromkin et al, 2007, p.174). To further complicate this example, in the past, the word kirin meant a mythological creature, which illustrates the historical properties of semantic study. Though kirin is a Japanese word, many examples can be found in the English language, such as bear, used ether as a noun for the animal ursus horribilis, or as a verb, to carry a burden (Fromkin et al, 2007). Further, the word bear is a homonym of the word bare, which means exposed (Fromkin et al, 2007).

            These lexical and semantic meanings for words are taken for granted by the L1 speaker of the language, but can cause confusion for the L2 learner. For example, if an ESL student who had not yet mastered the use of subjects, objects and verbs in the English language came across the word bear in a text, they might become confused (especially if they know both lexical meanings of the word bear) between the noun meaning and the verb meaning. This shows the need to not only teach vocabulary skills and basic grammar, but contextual skills as well. This student might be even further confused if they were to hear the word bare spoken in the expression ‘he will bare all’ and did not know the meaning of the expression (a way of saying that he will tell everything that he knows about something). That student might not know whether the person being spoken of will remove their clothing (as in bare or exposed) or carry everything (as in bearing a burden), in which both cases the understanding of the expression would be incorrect. This is an example of how semantic rules do not apply to idiomatic phrases for which the ESL student must learn the meaning of the whole expression (Fromkin et al, 2007).

            These examples illustrate the importance of not only teaching the words and their pronunciations, though this is very a important subject; but also the necessity of teaching the deeper semantic and contextual meaning of words to the ESL learner. It is imperative for the ESL teacher to not only understand these meanings, but to develop a good pedagogy for the instruction of these concepts to their students. By achieving this goal, the ESL instructor will be able to more effectively teach their students, and that should be the ultimate goal of any teacher.


Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. (2007). An introduction to language (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson-Wadsworth.

Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (11th ed.). (2005). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.


Copyright © Dr. Michael Wei