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A Shocking IELTS Result
"I was shocked to find that my IELTS* speaking result was the lowest of my four scores. I asked my IELTS teacher why he thought that was. He said that the low mark was probably because of my pronunciation. I was horrified. I work in a hospital. I'm surrounded by native-speaker nurses and doctors and patients. They never comment on my pronunciation. They never correct me. If my pronunciation is so bad, why hasn't anyone said anything?"
Here are seven reasons why native speakers of English are reluctant to help ESL** speakers correct their pronunciation. When you understand their hesitation, you will be in a much better position to take steps to do something about it. Here are the seven reasons:
1.It is rude. In most Western countries, it is considered impolite to correct someone else's pronunciation. The British, in particular, are famous for hating to offend someone.
2.They do not want to risk your friendship. They think that you may be offended if they correct you. They do not understand that continuing to ignore a mis-pronounced word is in fact reinforcing that incorrect pronunciation in your mind.
3.They think your accent is cute. Many native speakers find a foreign accent quite charming or refreshing. That is fine if you are still able to communicate your meaning clearly. But it is a problem if you find that people are misunderstanding your message. And your "cute" accent is not going to charm your IELTS examiner.
4.They hesitate to interrupt the flow of a conversation. That is fine when it is a casual social conversation. But it becomes a problem when the discussion is a crucial business situation or, for example, an important decision to be made in a life-threatening situation.
5.They are "immune". Often, native speakers who have lived for a long time with an ESL speaker of English, or are continually surrounded by one particular accent, develop "immunity" to the accent. They stop noticing the incorrect pronunciation. Even if they wanted to help, it is often quite difficult for native speakers in this situation to identify your pronunciation errors.
6.They are disillusioned. Some native speakers have in the past made the effort to work with an ESL speaker on pronunciation. Perhaps they might have gone about it in the wrong way. Whatever the reason, the ESL student, after correction, keeps returning to the incorrect pronunciation. This can be discouraging for the coach who then simply gives up trying.
7.But here is the number ONE reason why native speakers do not help correct your pronunciation. You didn't ASK. Unless you come right out and ask for help, you cannot expect to receive it. It is your initiative to take. Take it. What is the worst that can happen if you ask someone to correct your pronunciation? They might politely decline. That does not matter. You can then try someone else. But , above all you have to ask for help in order to receive it.
Now that you understand the mentality of the English-speaker, you can think about ways to approach your English-speaking friends and ask for help with your upcoming IELTS exam. You can think of ways to reassure them that you are going to appreciate the help and not resent correction.
And you will make a point of taking the coaching they give you seriously. You will find ways to memorize the corrections, practise them and use them in the following days. If you make sure your coach notices your determination to improve, then he will be encouraged to keep helping you in the lead-up to your IELTS test.
*IELTS - International English Language Teaching System is the world's leading test of English for higher education, immigration and employment.
**ESL - English as a Second Language
About the Author
About the Author: Do you need help with your IELTS exam preparation? Help is all around you if you know where to look for it. And a lot of that help is free for the asking. Barbara Takase has spent more than 20 years co-ordinating a team of professional IELTS teachers. She has counseled IELTS candidates and is aware of the anxieties and frustrations that they experience in the lead-up to their IELTS exam. For more free tips and suggestions go to: www.ieltspersonaltrainer.com/home.