English pronunciation – Can it be a criterion to measure English level?

Yerim Lee

As a speaker, learner, and English teacher, I’ve been wondering what good English pronunciation is. There are numerous kinds of pronunciation in this world, but there’s no definition or criteria of which pronunciation is the ‘good’ one. When I was young, my English teachers used to tell me that I had a good pronunciation, which led to the situation where I often was selected to read the text book out loud. In addition to that, some friends thought my English was very good and even asked me whether I came from the States. Looking back to those days, I think it is a very funny thing that people saw me as having very good level of English only because of my pronunciation. But, did I really have a good pronunciation? What are the criteria to decide so? In my personal opinion, the basis of good pronunciation depends on the perception of listeners.

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First Nation’s English: A response to Simon’s Post ‘Non-standard French in the Uashat mak Mani-Utenam Reserve’

Posted by Dean Garlick

(This piece was originally a comment to Simon’s post, but I thought it could use greater visibility and could serve as a separate post on its own).

I’ve also noticed a similar stigmatizing effect  in English with First Nations speakers as the one Simon describes in his piece on the French used by the Innu in Sept-Îles. There is often a unique cadence, pace, and grammatical structure that is unique to First Nation’s speakers’ English that unfortunately is often perceived as ‘slow’ or ‘stupid’ by speakers of standard varieties of English. This is extremely frustrating, but more of a reflection of how First Nations peoples are generally viewed and in fact becomes yet another ‘justification’ for discriminatory attitudes.

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