Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sound Foundations by Adrian Underhill--Revisited

(Book Review)

I already read this book back in 2014.  (See my original review here).

But, like Beyond the Sentence and How Languages are Learned, I found myself re-reading it because of the professional development bookclub I'm leading at my work.

I asked what book people were interested in reading next, and people wanted to do a book on pronunciation.  So we decided to do this book, and I decided to re-read it.

As with the other books I've re-read, I'm not going to write another review of this book.  Instead I'm just going to re-post here all the posts I made to the book club Facebook page, and then call it good.

A few books back, some colleagues mentioned to me that it helped with their motivation to read the books if the Facebook page stayed active.  And so ever since then, I've tried to make it a point to post in the bookclub Facebook page at least once a day.
Some of these posts are better than others.  (In a few of the posts, I've resorted to small nitpicks in an attempt to find something to say.)  But for whatever it's worth, below are my posts.  (All proper names are replaced by XXXX).

Day 1

Some background on this book:
This book is a practical book about pronunciation activities, and as such it fits in very well with our agreed upon format of alternating between theoretical books and practical books.
As it happens, I've already read this book, but other people were interested in doing this book, and so I'm happy to re-read it.
I'll jot down my memories of this book below:
This book was recommended to me by my tutor when I was doing the Distance Delta Module 1 a few years ago. I was having trouble with the phonemic script, and my tutor said this was the book to read to sort that out.
And it is an incredibly useful book in that regard.
Unfortunately, I hate to say this, but it may be one of those books that's more useful than it is interesting. At least it was for me. But maybe other people are more interested in pronunciation than I am, so your mileage of this book may vary.
The book is divided into two parts. The first section helps the reader themselves understand the basics of pronunciation (a section entitled the Discovery Toolkit) and a second section gives advice for teaching pronunciation in the classroom (the Classroom Toolkit).
The first section I found very useful. The second section I really struggled with, although that was my fault and not the book’s fault.
The first section is a very clear, very straight forward, very easy to follow explanation of the phonemic chart, and how our mouth produces various sounds. I had studied all this before, but I’ve never read such a clear explanation before.
The book is filled with “Discovery Activities” which encourage you to make certain sounds while noticing with your fingers the shape that your lips and tongue are making. This is all okay if you’re reading this book alone in your room at night, but can cause some embarrassment if you’re mostly reading the book at work or in a coffee shop (as I was). But I did my best to discretely do most of the Discovery Activities.
The explanation of all the vowel sounds, and how they are formed in your mouth, is very helpful. I understood it perfectly while I was reading it, but unfortunately committing it to memory is another matter, and I confess that I've pretty much forgotten all of it now. However it is probably too much to ask from a book that it will help you memorize something as well as learn it. The hard work of memorization must be carried out on your own.
The second half of the book describes various classroom activities you can do to teach your students about pronunciation, connected speech, word stress, et cetera.
This second half of the book was difficult for me, because I don’t usually teach a lot of pronunciation in my classes, and feel that it is outside my comfort zone. Even after having read the first half of the book, I felt like I still lacked the confidence to teach the pronunciation exercises in the second half of the book.
Probably for that reason, because I was resistant to doing the exercises, I had a really hard time focusing on the book. My eyes frequently glazed over as I read the pages, and I continually was discovering that I had gotten to the bottom of the page without having absorbed any of the words my eyes had passed over, and so I had to make myself go back to the top of the page.
For this reason, the second half of the book took me much longer to finish than the first half. The first half of the book I read relatively quickly, but the second half I got stalled on for ages before I finally forced myself to sit down and finish the book.
But that was my problem—that’s not the fault of the book. In fact, I really should be doing much more work on pronunciation in my classes, and I really should be adopting most of the exercises in this book.
And I think if you read the book with an eye towards actually doing these exercises in class, it should make it more interesting. So that's what I'm going to try to do this time around. I'm actually going to try out these exercises as I read the book. That should make it more interesting.

Day 2
Okay, so here's a thought:
Before we even get into this book, it's maybe worth noting that the whole premise of this book is debatable.
...Or at least, the premise of the 2nd half of the book, when Adrian Underhill gives suggestions for classroom activities. (The first half of the book is just informative).
Someone who would debate the whole premise of the second half of this book is Krashen, who wrote in The Natural Approach:
“In a recent study, however, Purcell and Suter surveyed acquirers of English as a second language, and concluded that accuracy of pronunciation of English correlated with the acquirers’ first language (speakers of Arabic and Farsi had better accents than speakers of Japanese and Thai), the amount of interaction with English speakers, performance on a test of phonetic ability, and the degree of concern that speakers had about their accent. Surprisingly enough, the amount of formal training in ESL, even when the courses were specifically aimed at pronunciation, did not relate to pronunciation ability. Thus, it may be possible that direct classroom exercises are of limited use.
Pronunciation ability, or good accent, may be nearly completely dependent on what has been acquired, not on rules which have been learned. It is possible to learn conscious rules about pronunciation, but performers, especially in the beginning stages, usually have too many more important things to attend to in performance.
… Thus, in the Natural Approach we do not recommend any specific activities for pronunciation, especially in early stages” 
(The Natural Approach by Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell p. 89-90).

Here's something else to think about:
We know that human attention is limited, so in free production the learners have to make choices about what they can focus their conscious attention on. If they are attending to the message of what they want to say, and if they are attending to the grammar, do they have any spare attention left to consciously attend to pronunciation features?
If we decide that they don't (and in my anecdotal experience they don't) then this makes the whole second half of Adrian Underhill's book essentially useless.
So I guess a guiding question to focus on during the reading of the 2nd half of the book is: 1) are these activities practical? 2) Can learners consciously attend to these pronunciation features during free production?
Also, what is everyone's anecdotal experience with teaching pronunciation? Do you find that pronunciation activities actually improve learners' pronunciation?
My own anecdotal experience is that the learners with the best pronunciation are always the ones who get plenty of input. For example, whenever I say to a high-level student, "How did you get such a perfect American accent?" invariably the answer is always something like, "I just watch a lot of movies."
I've never encountered a student who got good pronunciation as a result of the kind of activities Adrian Underhill recommends.
But... that's just me, and perhaps my experience is limited by the fact that I've never really given these pronunciation activities a chance, or tried them out much in my own classes.

This is going to be my goal for my re-reading of this book. To actually try these activities out as I read them this time, and see if they make a difference.

Day 3
So as I wrote the other day, when I previously read this book I didn't really try out the pronunciation activities as much as I should have.
I did, however, get one idea from this book.
Adrian Underhill mentions several times the idea of using nursery rhymes and limericks to teach English rhythm and word stress.
Although I never tried out Underhill's suggested activities, I did get the idea that a lot of exposure to poetry might help the learners to subconsciously absorb these features, and maybe even pre-empt some of these pronunciation problems before they happened (particularly with young learners).
With that in mind, I started doing one poem every day with my teens classes back in Cambodia.
At the time I would just hand the poem out, we would read it together, and if I could find a recording on youtube, I would play that as well.
The poems I used are on Google Drive below.
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B5QgMDk6npsRZkJyam5fZVJRbEE?usp=sharing
A couple notes:
I shared this folder once before, back when we were discussing a previous book. Sorry for repeating myself. But this book is the book I got the idea from, so it seemed appropriate to bring it up again here.
There are about 30 poems in the Google drive folder (that was enough to get me through one term at my previous school). However probably only half of those poems really worked well with my teens classes.
(It proved difficult to find a new poem every day, and so admittedly some of the poems in this folder are better than others).
If anyone has any good poems to recommend to add to the folder, let me know.

Day 4
Something else of interest:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kAPHyHd7Lo
This is a youtube video of a workshop by Adrian Underhill in which he demonstrates how the sounds on the phonemic chart are all related to each other. It is a great supplement to the book.



Day 5
So, those vowels.
I don't know what's wrong with me, but I can not remember those vowel symbols. Even though this is my second time going through the book.
I think part of the problem is that I rarely teach pronunciation in my classes, and you have to teach something to remember it. So, with my new Pre-Intermediate D class, I've been trying to spend 10 minutes each class on pronunciation, and I've been using "Pronunciation Pairs" by Ann Baker and Sharon Goldstein.
Somewhat frustrating though, is that Pronunciation Pairs uses different symbols than Sound Foundations. For example, Pronunciation Pairs uses /iy/ where Sound Foundation uses /iː/. Pronunciation Pairs uses /ɛ / and Sound Foundations uses /e/.
I was talking to XXXXX  about this, and he suggested that the phonemic script Adrian Underhill is using is for English pronunciation only, whereas the one in the Pronunciation Pairs is the International Phonemic script.

This whole thing can be pretty confusing.

Day 6
Chapter 1
Adrian Underhill really does a good job of making you realize all the sounds and their relationship to each other. But you cannot read this book in any public place. Has anyone else been making a lot of sounds in their apartment while reading this book.
On another note, I searched the drive, and it doesn't appear we have access to the CD that accompanies this book. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong). But I suspect the CD doesn't really add much. It's probably just a recording of a native speaker doing what we native speakers know how to say anyway.

Day 7
p.13
Underhill writes "Lip movement is easier to detect visually, and for many people easier to sense internally than the movement of the tongue."
It's true, at least in my experience. But why do you suppose this is?
I mean, it's easy enough to understand why lips are easier to see visually. (They're right on the front of your face, after all). But why do you suppose it is easier to sense lip movements internally?
Or is this just one of life's unanswered mysteries?

Day 8
p.18
Adrian Underhill says:
"An aim of these activities is to make ourselves conscious of what we are doing habitually, so that we can intervene and change things at will. Then we will able to help our learners do the same. That is why I see this approach to pronunciation as being based on awareness, or consciousness, rather than on mechanicity (eg non-aware repetition), which seems to be the implicit basis of some approaches."
It's interesting that he states this so directly.
The advantage of mechanicity, however, is that it doesn't require conscious attention, because conscious attention is a limited resource that is often needed elsewhere during free production. So why is he against mechanicity? (To the best of my memory, he doesn't explain this elsewhere in the book. But then it was a few years ago that I read it.)
In order for Adrian Underhill's approach to be effective, you'd have to assume that increased awareness lead to good pronunciation, which lead to good habits, which leads to mechanicity. Right? I'm mean you couldn't expect the learner to be devoting all their conscious attention to where their lips and tongue are formed, right? Eventually you'd want this process to be automatic. But I'm not sure he ever outlines this specifically in the book. (Again, I could be remembering it wrong). And again, if the ultimate goal is mechanicity (and I'm assuming it is) then why not just go for that from the beginning?

XXXX commented:

I think you're right that mechanicity has to be the ultimate aim. However, I'm with him 100% on the notion that you can't (and mustn't) skip straight to mechanicity when teaching pronunciation and sound production. Conscious focus up front is essential for forming the correct mechanized habit.
I also think it increases the students' capacity to repeat the process with other new vocab from text under their own steam.
Day 9
 p.18-19
I'd forgotten how interesting this book can be at points. Isn't it funny that we shortened vowels before fortis consonants, and shorten them before lentis consonants? And the discovery activities on pages 18 and 19 really helped to make this crystal clear as well.
I did, however, have one question. On page 19, Adrian Underhill writes:
"Fortis, meaning strong, describes consonants characteristically produced with a strong breath force. In English these are coincidentally unvoiced consonants. Lenis, meaning gentle, describes consonants characteristically produced with a weaker breath force. In English these are coincidentally the voiced consonants."
The word "coincidentally" caused me to do a double-take. I had thought that voiced consonants were produced with weaker breath force not coincidentally, but precisely because they were voiced--i.e. the vibrating vocal cords directly caused the air flow to be reduced. But am I remembering wrong? Is it just a coincidence that voiced consonants have less breath force?
...But, no, it can't be just a coincidence, can it? It can't be a just a coincidence that all the voiced consonants just happen to have less breath force, right? It wouldn't happen just by coincidence that all the voiced consonants have less breath force, and all the unvoiced consonants have more breath force. There must be some reason.

XXXX commented:

Aliens?

Day 10
p.28
Adrian Underhill says: "Remember that deaf people lip read proficiently in all languages."
That "all" is a bit strong, isn't it? Even tonal languages?
So I googled lip reading in tonal languages. And apparently it can be done. At least according to the folks at reddit
https://www.reddit.com/r/NoStupidQuestions/comments/6budgd/is_it_possible_to_lipread_tonal_languages_eg_thai/

Day 11
p.29
There's some interesting stuff in this book. I remember being really surprised the last time I read it by learning that y and w are vowels by the phonetic definition, but still function as consonants.
I think this, and learning that there's no /h/, were the things that really blew my mind from the last time I read this book. But the no /h/ is still a few pages away

Day 12
p.30
Okay, so I spoke too soon in a previous post. Adrian Underhill does come back and explain why voiced consonants are lentis, and unvoiced are fortis. And it turns out it's not a coincidence. (Perhaps he was being ironic earlier?)
As Adrian Underhill says on page 30. "This is partly because voiced sounds take energy from the breath in order to drive the larynx, and partly because unvoiced sounds need to compensate for their lack of voice with force and clarity in their articulation."

Day 13
p.31-32
Not to beat a dead horse, but I thought about the distinction between conscious knowledge and mechanistic knowledge again when thinking about voiced and unvoiced consonants.
For native speakers, the decision to vibrate our vocal cords is always unconscious, right? I mean, we know what sound we want to say, but we don't consciously manipulate our vocal cords into vibrating, do we?
So, the question is, can learners be taught to consciously manipulate this?
In my classes, I've had mixed success.
I've had some students who had trouble with voiced/unvoiced pairs. (Like /s/ and /z/) And I found it was almost always unhelpful for me to explain to them that the difference was in the vocal cord.
I did, however, have some success with a student when I had her put her fingers on my throat, and feel the different vibrations with /s/ and /z/, and then I had her put her fingers on her own throat when she attempted to make the sounds. And I think it did improve her pronunciation a bit.
But on the other hand, that technique involved a bit more physical touching with a student than I'm normally comfortable with.
What has your guys experience been?

XXXX Commented:

I think it can be useful to talk about the difference between hissing and humming. This can require a translator for lower level students, of course.

Day 14
 p.42
Okay, what about nasal consonants? Do we consciously control the opening and closing of our nasal cavity?

Day 15
p.37
So, is anyone else finding a lot of typos in this book?
I don't remember this from before. I think it may be some sort of issue with the specific PDF file we have.
One example: on page 37, our PDF uses the ? symbol for the glottal stop.
Actually, the correct symbol for the glottal stop is ʔ (Something that is admittedly a little bit reminiscent of a question mark, but still not the same mark.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glottal_stop

XXXX Commented:

From my rudimentary knowledge of e-book creation, the glottal stop error was likely caused by a mistake in Optical Character Recognition that was then missed by the copy editor.

It's been a noticeable nuisance over the last four or so years of reading ebooks to have such high-profile reads riddled with typos not befitting such a well regarded or important work. Just recently I read the official e-book of the world-famous Fatherland, and nearly ever instance of the world 'car' showed 'ear'. It's immersion breaking to say the least.
As a pirater of books I should hardly complain, but the typos-in-ebooks problem, I think, is a serious one. If someone could locate a physical copy of this book (or any) it would be interesting to see if the typos still showed up.

Day 16
p.43
It's interesting how stuff can sometimes get jumbled in the memory over time.
After I read this book last time, I thought I remembered that there was no such thing as /h/.
I occasionally even brought this bit of trivia out at dinner parties or drinking sessions.
I remember one night I said, "Did you know there's no such thing as /h/ ?"
And someone else said, "You can't go dropping something like that on us at this late hour."
Re-reading this book, however, I'm discovering that I'd mis-remembered. There is definitely an /h/ phoneme in the phonetic chart.
However, /h/ does not have any place of articulation. It's just extra air expelled proceeding the vowel sound.
I had misremembered this as the idea that there was no /h/ in articulatory terms.
Although... in a way... you could still make the case that there is no phoneme /h/. I mean, if it doesn't have a place of articulation, does it really exist?
Sometimes extra air gets expelled before vowels in certain words, but should that really get rewarded with its own letter?

XXXX Commented:

If a /h/ falls in the whhhhhoods...

Day 17
p.44
Ah, the /l/ sound. How this used to drive me crazy when I taught English in Japan!
I haven't noticed a problem with it in Vietnam though. Or am I just being unobservant.
One of the things I didn't realize when I first started teaching was that the /l/ sound in English was not one sound, but a couple different sounds (as Adrian Underhill explains on page 44) which is one of the reasons why it was so difficult to teach to Japanese people.

XXXX Commented:

 I've noticed that Vietnamese students say /n/ instead of /l/ (like beautifun)

XXXX Commented:

Yeah, it's very rare but I have heard instances like this. Only with final 'l', presumably because Vietnamese lacks it.

Day 18
p.46
I'd forgotten this from last time.
So /w/ is essentially just a /ʊ/, and /j/ is /ɪ/. Wow. Consider my mind blown once again.

Day 19
p.50
On Allophones
I was in a conversation the other day with XXXX about allophones, and I got a bit mixed up on it.
I was thinking that the plural "s" ending (which can be voiced or unvoiced) or the regular past tense "ed" ending (which can also be voiced or unvoiced) were examples of allophones.
Then I looked it up later to double check myself, and it turns out that when the plural "s" changes to /z/, or the past tense "ed" changes to /t/, these are actually examples of allomorphs, not all allophones.
Just based on the definition Adrian Underhill gives on page 50, it's not entirely clear what the difference is, however. But I think when one phoneme changes to another phoneme in predictable contexts (ie /s/ always becomes /z/ after a voiced consonant), that is an allomorph. But when it stays as the same phoneme, and just changes sound a little bit, it is an allophone.
Someone correct me if I'm getting this wrong.

XXXX Commented:

That's what I understand. An example of an allophone would be the /t/ sound in 'top' and 'stop', which is pronounced slightly differently but still represented by the same phoneme.

XXXX Commented:

Hey Joel, from what I understand, an Allophone relates to phonetics whereas an allomorph relates to morphemes. An allomorph would be the alternate pronunciation of the form of a morpheme. The allophone is the sound or sounds of each letter. So, when you think of words and the possible different pronunciations for their endings, it's morph, and for individual letters, its phone

Day 20
p.53
In the section on unstress in words, Adrian Underhill writes:
"The vowel in the [unstressed] syllable may sound less distinct. This loss of sharpness in unstressed vowels is called reduction, and all vowel sounds can undergo greater or less degrees of reduction. All monophthongs reduce towards the central /ə/ sound, though /iː/ often reduces to /ɪ/ and /uː/ often reduces to /ʊ/."
Maybe I'm overthinking things here, but at this stage he's still talking about individual words in isolation, right? So do the sounds really change then, or is this just the way the word is pronounced? Like instead of saying the sound reduces to /ə/ or /ʊ/, why not just say the sound is /ə/ or /ʊ/?

Day 21
p.67
Adrian Underhill writes:
"Intrusive /j/ sound follows a final /iː/ or a dipthong ending in /ɪ/, where the next word begins with a vowel sound. This is because /iː/ and /ɪ/ from the starting point for the semi-vowel /j/."
Endquote.
The words "starting point" seems to imply that /j/ has more than /iː/ and /ɪ/ , right? As in "this is the starting point, and then something else follows".
But on page 46, Adrian Underhill had defined a /j/ as a sound that "begins with /ɪ/ of very short duration, gliding rapidly to the following vowel."
So if /j/ is already a /ɪ/ of very short duration, then how is /ɪ/ also only the starting point for /j/? Unless Adrian Underhill is counting the "gliding rapidly to the following vowel." But isn't that glide just a transition? Why not just say that /ɪ/ glides onto the next vowel?

Day 22
p.71
Adrian Underhill contrasts stress timed languages with syllable timed languages.
He says:
"English, Dutch and German are examples of languages said to be stress timed. Spanish, Japanese and French are said to be syllable timed."
(BTW, interesting use of the passive here. Is he qualifying his statement?)
Vietnamese is not mentioned. But Vietnamese is definitely not stress timed, right? So is it syllable timed then? Or are there other options?

XXXX Commented:

Syllable timed. The only other option is mora-timed, like Japanese supposedly is. This classification seems fairly new though. I can't say when it was introduced, but I believe it isn't any older than 1999.
I think the syllable timing, combined with all the other intricacies of Vietnamese is part of what adds to the difficulty. It's hard to focus in on a sentence when it all seems to rattle on by without any word stress.
Side note:
I was speaking with a local, asking how Vietnamese people make up for the seeming lack of functionality by using intonation on lexical variety. She said you just speak the whole sentence louder show emotions and attitudes. Ugh.

Day 23
So... How's everyone finding this book.
Undoubtedly it's got a lot of useful information in it, but I'll be honest, I'm finding it hard to absorb the information because I'm finding it hard to avoid my eyes glazing over while I'm reading this book.
I thought maybe this was because it was my second time through this book, but then I looked at what I had written up after I first read the book back in 2014.
I had written:
I had a really hard time focusing on the book. My eyes frequently glazed over as I read the pages, and I continually was discovering that I had gotten to the bottom of the page without having absorbed any of the words my eyes had passed over, and so I had to make myself go back to the top of the page.
For this reason, the second half of the book took me much longer to finish than the first half. The first half of the book I read relatively quickly, but the second half I got stalled on for ages before I finally forced myself to sit down and finish the book.
Endquote
It could be just me though. I've never really been that interested in pronunciation activities--I've always been more of a grammar nerd instead.
But I just thought I'd check to see if it was only me, or if other people were feeling the same fatigue with this book.

XXXX Commented:

It seems like a solid reference book more than a book to be taken end to end. I don't find it to be read easily.

Day 24
p.102
Adrian Underhill writes:
"You can use the chart for giving general class instructions and setting up activities that have nothing to do with pronunciation. This is an interesting way of using your authority without using your voice. It usually rivets attention."
Is he talking about spelling out whole sentences here on the phonemic chart? But that must take forever, right?
Also: he's clearly not talking about young learners here, right?

Day 25
p.103
In his section on Mode 3 (Learners use the chart to point to what the teacher has said), Adrian Underhill writes:
"You can change the activity by not looking at the chart yourself. You turn your back to the chart so that it is clear that you cannot see what symbols the learner is pointing out. Then the class has to decide whether the learner is pointing at the right symbol by saying yes or no. If they are unanimous then you accept their decision without looking. If they are not unanimous then the class need to say both your original sound, and the sound being pointed out, in order to savour the difference. By not watching the chart you shift responsibility for discrimination onto the class."
Endquote.
An interesting idea, but what is the assumption here?
Is the assumption that if the class is unanimous, then they must be right?
Or is the assumption that if the class is unanimous, then it doesn't matter whether they are wrong or right?
Also, do you think this activity would work in Vietnam? I get the impression that in Vietnam, the students want (particularly adults) feel cheated when the teacher doesn't give feedback.

Day 26
Intonation p.74-93
We've talked about problems with this PDF copy before, but I thought it was particularly a problem with the whole section on Intonation. It seemed like a lot of the Intonation marks didn't line up with what Adrian Underhill was saying in the text. Or was it just me?

XXXX Commented:
I saw maybe a couple others. Certainly doesn't help the already difficult task of approximating pitches, keys, and tones described only with words.

Day 27
p.118
Adrian Underhill writes:
"Vowels in most languages use the same mouth space and divide the space up to yield the number of different vowels required by that language. Few languages have as many discrete, significant vowel sounds as English, which means that most learners have to fit more vowels into the same mouth space."
Interesting. I had been thinking that English was actually on the low end of the spectrum--Especially having recently lived in Cambodia, which has 30 vowel sounds. (As John McWhorter explains in this video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQRjouwKDlU )
This is one of the reasons I very quickly gave up on learning Cambodian when I lived there.
On the other hand, I think Japanese only has 5 vowels.
Anyone know about Vietnamese?



Day 28
p.119
Adrian Underhill writes:
"I find that the two sounds /iː/ and /uː/ provide a good starting point for introducing the chart and the monophthong section."
To give credit where credit is due, the man practices what he preaches. This is indeed exactly what he does in this video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kAPHyHd7Lo



Day 29
p.124
Anyone else ever study Japanese?
One of the things that surprised me when I first moved to Japan is that the Japanese don't really have an alphabet. They have a syllabary. Each character represents a syllable instead of a consonant.
So, for example, the Japanese have symbols for "ma", "mi", "mu", "me", and "mo", but no symbol for just "m" on its own.
This surprised me at first, but then I thought about it, and I wondered if perhaps the Japanese had it right, and we English speakers had it all wrong. Did "m" really exist on its own? Wasn't "m" always followed by a vowel? Whenever we make the "m" sound (for example, to model it for young children learning to read) we always put a vowel at the end.
I think this is what Adrian Underhill is saying on page 124:
"Unlike vowels, many consonants cannot be sounded on their own. As consonants are produced by obstructing the air flow in some way, it is the release of the block that produces the characteristic sound. And that release requires movement into another sound (remember con + sonant= 'with sound' or 'sounding with...')

XXXX Commented:

Studied it for about 3 days, just to make my trip a bit there slightly more immersive.
My first reaction to the hiragana was that it was a brilliantly simple idea. Indeed, a syllable by definition requires a vowel, so why pretend that consonants can stand on their own?
Well, here's one example to show they can: "Thomasu": what my name became when I was in Japan.
Yeah, so with that "ma", "mi", "mu" stuff it alters final consonants. This is where I would say letters like 'm' do exist on their own (jam, drum, broom).

I Replied:

Yeah, good point. Actually I clipped the above quote, but the full version of what Adrian Underhill said was that fricatives can stand on their own, but not plosives.

XXXX Commented:

Alphabets allow us to make written records of spoken language using fewer characters. It's all about efficiency.

Day 30
p.131
Adrian Underhill writes:
"Where a mother tongue consonant interferes, I would include it as an intentional part of the practice. You can do this by assigning a symbol--perhaps invented by the learner in question--to the mother tongue sound and writing that symbol in its own box beside the chart on the board. Include that sound/symbol in the exercises described above and use it to identify, recognize and discriminate."
I wonder, what mother tongue consonants interfere in Vietnam?

Day 31
p.133
On page 133, Adrian Underhill talks about two different kinds of mistakes, which he catagorizes as "slips" and "errors".
I think this echos the distinction Rod Ellis made (in the previous bookclub book), except Adrian Underhill seems to be inventing his own terminology.
Rod Ellis used "mistake" to refer to what Adrian Underhill calls a "slip". Adrian Underhill is using "mistake" as a blanket term for both slips and errors.
In general terms, I think the lack of consistent terminology is a problem with ESL literature in general. Or at least I've read other people who've complained about this.

XXXX Commented:

It is rather remarkable that neither of the two classifications makes any sense, since "mistake" is a synonym of "error". Errors can't be a subcategory of mistakes, and neither can unintentional mistakes be called errors—as the two words are, well, synonyms. I'm fine with "slip" (as it makes sense) and either "mistake" or "error" for intentional mistakes, but there also needs to be a third word—a term for all inaccuracies. How about, I don't know, "inaccuracies"?
The lack of consistent terminology is probably due to the lack of interest in the field of EFL from the academic world.

Day 32
Okay, so it looks like we're meeting this Tuesday (June 13) from 2-3pm. Everyone is welcome to attend regardless of whether you read the book or not. (In fact, if you didn't finish the whole book, you're probably in good company).
I've requested to book room 801, so assuming it's available, we can meet there. If plans change, I'll post here again.

Google Slideshow for Bookclub
I made this slideshow to help guide the discussion bookclub: slides, pub



Video Review

Video Review Here and embedded below:



Link of the Day
In Conversation with Noam Chomsky - A British Academy event 2017

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