After the course, students|
• understand what it means to learn the pronunciation of a foreign language as a (young) adult;
• can read and use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA);
• know how speech is produced;
• have learned the pronunciation of the vowels and consonants of American English and can describe them theoretically;
• have acquired knowledge of the stress and phoneme structure of standard American English;
• have learned to differentiate between the strong and weak forms of function words;
• understand syllable structure;
• know how the different positions in syllable, word, and sentence affect the pronunciation of a phoneme;
• are familiar with the most common assimilations that consonants undergo in certain phonological environments;
• (for Dutch students only:) are aware of the main differences in pronunciation between the consonants of Dutch and those of American English;
• can transcribe phonemically a list of words with unpredictable pronunciations;
• can transcribe fairly rapidly spoken American English;
• have acquired a phonological awareness enabling a further development of their insight into phonology and phonetics.
This comparative, introductory course in American English phonetics aims to show what it means to learn the pronunciation of a foreign language as a (young) adult. Students study the segmental and supra-segmental aspects of pronunciation: the sound system of GA, the pronunciation of the vowels and consonants of American English and the assimilations undergone by certain combinations of these sounds. They study the spelling anomalies of English, the formation of inflections in English nouns and verbs, word stress, strong and weak forms of function words, syllable structure, and pre-fortis clipping. Students also learn how to transcribe spoken language phonetically, for which audio files of native speakers are used as the main means of practice material.
For Dutch L1 speakers, comparisons are made with Dutch and students learn about phoneme substitution, undesirable assimilations and other errors that Dutch learners are apt to make in the pronunciation of American English.
The theory exams are a mix of purely theoretical questions and questions that ask you to apply the theory to show you have understood the principles you studied. The transcription exams test your ability to translate letters and sounds into phonemes.