PHONETICS IN TEACHING RUSSIAN AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

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Abstract


The article is devoted to teaching foreign students Russian phonetics in modern system of education, problems of learning Russian sounds considering interference of the students’ native languages. The authors pay special attention to electronic phonetic courses, especially nationally oriented; games for teaching phonetics; integrated system of teaching phonetics at all levels of learning, techniques in teaching Russian pronunciation and stress. Perspectives and problems of developing phonetics are discussed in the article.


Introduction Developing speaking, listening, writing and reading skills not only requires to be able to pronounce the sounds, but also to know how they are combined in words and how words are then combined in sentences. In natural language environment these skills are formed simultaneously. Imagine how children learn to speak, what precedes it and that this process goes easily and quickly. In non-linguistic environment or to put it simply, at a foreign language lesson pronunciation skills demand special attention. However, they say that phonetic skills are not so necessary, because it is almost impossible to learn to speak a foreign language without accent, so why do we need to try and waste our time. To answer this question let us think what is the essence of phonetic skills. Good phonetic skills are essential for adequate understanding of speech, accuracy of ideas and performing any communicative function of the language. Pronunciation is a basic characteristics of speech, fundamental for developing and perfecting all other foreign language skills. According to M.I. Matussevich, phonetic skills require correct pronunciation, i.e. developed skills of sounds and sound combinations articulation, intonation skills, and ability to put the stress according to the norms of the target language (Matussevich, 1976). The main difficulty in teaching pronunciation is interlanguage interference. When starting to learn a foreign language, students have developed listening and pronunciation skills in their native language, they also acquire basic intonemes. Interference arouses because of the fact that native language skills are referred to the foreign one, i.e. the sounds of the foreign language are becoming similar to the native ones (Scherba, 1957). Teachers have to anticipate such mistakes and prevent them if possible. The main attention should be paid to the phenomena which are specific for the articulation of the learning language. Teaching pronunciation starts at the elementary level. In interrelated teaching of all forms of communication in which pronunciation is used in any form; this task is easily achieved. Forming listening and pronunciation skills is rather spontaneous and depends on the manuals where sounds and sound combinations are introduced in a certain consequence. However, no matter which consequence the authors of manuals choose, introducing phonetic material always considers the principles of consequence and reasonableness: from the easy to the more complicated, from the known to the unknown, from the phenomena similar to the native language to the phenomena which do not have equivalents in the native language. Nowadays there exist actual electronic Russian language courses, for example introductory phonetic course described in A.L. Arkhangelskaya’s article “Introductory phonetic course in Mixed Learning of Russian as a Foreign Language” (Arkhangelskaya, 2017). The author characterizes the structure and organization principles of the introductory phonetic course in Russian as a foreign language in the system of mixed learning, i.e. interrelated individual and classroom-based learning. All theoretical and methodological principles of the research are realized in the electronic manual used in teaching Russian to beginners at the preparatory faculty of Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. E.G. Doronina, Yu.V. Kasakova’s article “Problems of Creating Nationally Oriented Electronic Phonetic Courses” reviews existing electronic courses on phonetics of Russian as a foreign language. The main attention is paid to the peculiarities of nationally oriented courses for Chinese and Arab students. The authors consider interference of the native and foreign languages, and due to this fact research in native languages are becoming more and more actual (Doronina, 2017). N.L. Fedotova, A.Yu. Kassatkina propose to use phonetic games in their article “Phonetic Games System in Teaching Chinese Students Russian Pronounciation at Beginner Level”. The authors have worked out an introductory phonetic course based on phonetic games. For Chinese students games can be effective means of learning Russian pronounciation because competitive principle is close for them. It is games where tgey can base on collective idea, close to the representatives of Chinese cultures, the habit and necessity to work in a group (Fedotova, 2017). Uniform treatment to speech pureness should be conceived in phonetics, grammar, lexis and also in other disciplines and other kinds of activities, e.g. in reports at seminars, answers at exams, course and diploma papers defense. It is especially important in multiaspect teaching and teaching students - future Russian language teachers. This uniform treatment in teaching phonetics has been mentioned by I.M. Loginova in the article “Phonetic Aspect in Teaching at the Chair of Russian as a Foreign Language in Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia” (Loginova, 2015). The necessity of systematic work on pronunciation and intonation at the stage between B1 to B2 is shown in the article “Succession in Forming Skills of Pronunciation and Intonation at Intermediary Level of Learning Russian as a Foreign Language” and in the course “Russian Language and Speech Culture” by I.Yu. Varlamova, M.B. Budilceva, I.A. Pugachev. The presented analysis of phonetic mistakes of the first-year students, caused by interference, creates base to compile lexical and grammatical minimum used to overcome phonetic difficulties at the lessons of Russian as a foreign language and speech culture with lingua-oriented methods (Varlamova, 2017). Even at the beginner level of teaching Russian as a foreign language it is necessary to teach the students syntagmatic segmentation, intonation procession of syntagmas, pointing out the intonation center of a syntagma. This helps form skills of intentional reading, understanding the main information and developing correct speech. These questions are studied in M.N. Shutova’s article “Intonational Text Analysis at the Beginner Level of Teaching Foreign Students-Philologists” (Shutova, 2017). Foreign students after finishing introductory phonetic course very often stop paying attention to mistakes in pronouncing sounds, word stress, intonation monologues and dialogues. Incorrect Russian speech often annoys interlocutor. To prevent discomfort of interlocutors, speakers and addressees, it is necessary to continue working at correcting pronunciation, minimizing accent, creating friendly communication atmosphere also at advanced level. The main difficulty is minimizing accent. The sphere of language contacts and interference is characterized in V.V. Bondareva’s article “To the Problem of Language Contacts: Phonetic Interference and Accent” (Bondareva, 2017). Typological differences of native and foreign languages influence interference spheres and main features of accent system. The article touches upon some notions connected with language contacts: phonetic interference and foreign accent. Foreign accent is studied in the articles by E.L. Barkhudarova (Barkhudarova, 2017), S.S. Khromov (Khromov, 2017). The analysis of foreign accent gives results important for theoretical phonetics and describing phonetic systems of different languages, especially paradigmatics and syntagmatics of sound units. In the meantime studying foreign accent allows to investigate features of phonetic system of the studied language. Interfered Russian speech of foreigners reveals the whole range of Russian phonetic system peculiarities. Chinese accent in Russian speech is described in Zheng Wendong, Wang Pan’s article “Comparing Russian and Chinese Phoneme Changes in Speech Flow” (Wendong, 2017). The article compares the changes of Russian and Chinese phonemes in speech flow, points out typical phonetic mistakes of Chinese students studying Russian and proposes means for correcting those mistakes. Accent in Russian speech of Chinese students with northern and southern dialects in the aspect of consonants is examined in I.M. Loginova, Zhao Zhe’s article (Loginova, 2016). Studying sound interference of northern and southern dialects of the Chinese language in learning Russian is actual because the dialect of a Chinese student influences greatly their Russian pronunciation. The practical relevance of the research is connected with teaching Chinese students from different dialect areas of the country. Zhao Zhe’s article “Russian Vowels from the Point of View of a Chinese Speaker” is also of great interest. The article by comparing articulations of Russian and Chinese vowels analyses mistakes in pronouncing Russian vowels in Chinese students’ speech (Zhao Zhe, 2016). E.A. Bryzgunova’s phonologic theory is described in O.A. Sveshnikova’s article “Using E.A. Bryzgunova’s Phonologic Theory in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language” (Sveshnikova, 2015). The author consider that it is E.A. Bryzgunova’s book “Applied Phonetics and Russian Intonation” (Bryzgunova, 1963) lays the foundation of a new scientific and applied discipline “Russian as a Foreign Language”. E.A. Bryzgunova’s conception presents a kind of communicative analysis of sounding speech by four means: phonetic, lexical and grammatical structure, the type of syntactic structure, intonational and logical connection with preceding and subsequent contexts (or situation), and intonation which is presented by four means: the type of intonational construction, the place of the intonational centre in the syntagma, presence and place of syntagmatic segmentation and a pause in the syntagma in a specific sense distinctive function (the latter means is less significant in Russian). Besides intonational means, phonetic means include phoneme structure of word forms and word stress. Difficulties of Italian students studying Russian intonation are classified in O.A. Bezhenar’s article “Teaching Russian Intonation to Italian Students” (Bezhenar, 2017). The author presents the results of comparative analysis of Russian and Italian intonational systems, shows rhythmical and intonational mistakes of the Italians speaking Russian. According to O.A. Bezhenar, direct contacts between a foreigner and a native Russian speaker nowadays happen more often, that is why it is really important to focus the students’ attention on acoustic peculiarities and sense differentiating functions of Russian intonation. The effectiveness of teaching pronunciation is determined by careful selection of the educational material, its systematization, taking into account the students’ native language and their level of qualification. The corrective course of Russian phonetics for B1-B2 students is analysed in M.N. Shutova’s article “Corrective Course of Russian Phonetics for Foreign Students in Pushkin Institute” (Shutova, 2017). The article presents phonetic material which causes certain difficulties for all foreign students: hard and soft consonants, voiced and voiceless consonants, weak vowels after hard and soft consonants, rhythmic organization of a word, intonation structure of an utterance. It is necessary to work thoroughly at correcting phonetic processes in students’ speech. Phonetic exercises are explored in M.N. Shutova’s article “Phonetic Exercises at the Lessons of Russian as a Foreign Language” (Shutova, 2017). The article studies the kinds of phonetic exercises used at Russian lessons for foreign students of different levels. The exercises are divided into preparatory and communicative, and according to the author it is urgent to use communicative exercises, especially aimed at intonational constructions, even at beginner level. The main attention in phonetic course is paid to Russian stress. Russian word stress is a complex phenomenon in the language sound system connected not only with phonetic, but also morphological and lexical systems. Learning Russian word stress causes not only phonetic and phonological difficulties, but also problems in acquiring morphological paradigmatics, word-formation types, and groups of words with specific accentological characteristics (Shutova, 2013). The role of accent as rhythm organizing means is very important for communication sustainability and effectiveness. From the point of view of communicative teaching method it is urgent for stress from the very beginning not to be the theoretic phenomenon, but to become a means of real communication. According to G.M. Bogomazov, it is necessary to show to the students that stress is a feature of the whole word class, i.e. they get acquainted with stress through learning main rhythmic models (Bogomazov, 1981: 31). If at the elementary level of learning the Russian word rhythmics students acquire the rhythmic impulse of the model, then at the advanced students learn with the help of the rhythmic impulse to organise in words more complex and heterogenous sound sequences according to the norms of Russian literary pronunciation. It is easier to learn words with fixed stress, and we should start work at accentological rules with such words, teaching how to move from the original form to other word forms keeping the stress fixed (there are about 96% of words with fixed stress in the Russian language) (Vovk, 1979; Fedyanina, 1982). Then we start teaching main accentological schemes of mobile stress because they constitute the specifics of Russian accentological system. From the point of view of communicative teaching method at the first stage of teaching stress it is reasonable to point out phonetic motivation in putting the stress in the word, then - morphological principle of this motivation with its dominating role. Phonetic aspect allows to understand similarities in stress functioning in students’ native language in comparison with Russian. Morphological principle also allows to more deeply understand differences in stress in Russian and native languages (Bogomazov, 1981). Teaching Russian stress is very complicated, demands much patience from the teacher and the students as well, because the skills of the native language are really stable. That is why the way of presenting educational material in the language environment. In 2016 publishing house “Russian Language. Courses” published the second edition of M.N. Shutova’s “Manual on Russian Stress for Learners of Russian as a Foreign Language”. The manual is based on P.Ya. Galperin’s psycholinguistic theory of phaseby-phase forming mental actions and notions. The theory assumes learning in the complete and generalized system of landmarks with organized phase-by-phase mastering according to a strict fixed plan, that guarantees no mistakes. The model, or the way of presenting learning material should be coordinated with the structure of teaching activity. Any teaching process is forming new actions and relevant images and notions. The process consists of two stages: stage of preliminary understanding and the stage of acquiring the landmark system and actions on its base. The landmark system includes 1) the object model and 2) the action model (the pattern of its operations). The ready model is not a means of analysis. The function of a means for forming knowledge is fulfilled by the model only on the stage of its constructing when its regularities are revealed (explanatory function). When the students make up the model, they fix its theoretical regularities, which allows to use them as a means of analysis. The manual contains keys, and students can learn Russian stress not only with a teacher, but also individually (Shutova, 2016). Zhao Xing’s article “The Influence of Chinese Tones on Learning Russian Stress by Chinese Students” is also devoted to a difficult for Chinese students problem of stress. The author gives a detailed characteristics of Chinese stress in comparison with Russian and analyses typical mistakes which Chinese students make in Russian speech (Zhao Xing, 2016). Electronic learning and distant learning technologies give opportunities for individual work with different teaching resources. Mixed learning, i.e. combining auditory work with a teacher and individual work in electronic learning environment, according to the article “Forming Phonetic Competence in Electronic Learning Russian as a Foreign Language” by N.B. Bitekhtina, V.N. Klimova, is the most effective form of teaching process, allowing to form correct foreign pronunciation. The article studies the opportunities of on-line platforms in forming phonetic competence at the lessons of Russian as a foreign language. Special attention is paid to imitative skills of students and combining different kinds of teaching process (Bitekhtina, 2017). Practical teaching aims, requiring effective teaching methods, make it necessary to learn students’ speech behaviour not only from the point of view of speech production, but also its perception. However, research in Russian speech perception by Russian language speakers held in L.V. Scherba’s Laboratory of Experimental Phonetics showed that perceptive space does not coincide with phonological and the number of perceptible sounds exceeds the number of phonemes of their native language. The scientists found out that Russian native speakers differentiate and in a certain way interpret 18 Russian stressed vowel phonemes, whose functions depend on hardness-softness of neighbouring consonants. The results of the research propose that while listening to foreign speech we can pay attention to the phenomena of not only phonological level. Acoustic studies of perception are crucial for teaching foreign students Russian pronunciation, according to I.O. Prokhorova’s article “Teaching Pronunciation: Experimental Data and Teaching Methods” (Prokhorova, 2014), where she studies the perception pf Russian soft consonants and vowels after them by foreign students of different nationalities. Modern teaching process cannot be effective without experimental data. Neither methodologists, nor teachers can stand back of new knowledge. Linguistic competence of teachers, especially methodologists, must meet the requirements of modern science. This is proved in I.M. Loginova’s article “Modern Interpretation of Russian Phonetics in Teaching Pronunciation” (Loginova, 2017). The article characterizes Russian phonetics of XXI century with changes of orthoepic norms and considering the data of phonetic experiments. It describes the original model of describing Russian phonetics from the point of view of articulation base and for the purposes of teaching non-Russian students Russian pronunciation. The author characterizes the peculiarities of Russian vowel and consonant system actual for teaching Russian as a foreign language in XXI century. The article is really important for young teachers who do not specialize in phonetics, do not consider experimental data and are not accurate in describing Russian sound system. Effective communication in a foreign language depends on good pronunciation skills, especially for non closely-allied languages. Taking this in consideration, methodologists, teachers, linguists nowadays are giving more attention to formal characteristics of speech, i.e. pronunciation and intonation. Teaching Russian pronunciation is very important for electronic Russian language courses, in teaching foreign philologists, that is why this aspect becomes an individual course. It is included in national programs for teachers of Russian as a foreign language. Nowadays more and more attention is given to communicative skills of foreign students, so phonetic aspect in our opinion should become obligatory component in speaking Russian at intermediary and advanced levels.

Marina N Shutova

Pushkin State Russian Language Institute

Author for correspondence.
Email: marina.shu@mail.ru
6, Akademika Volgina str., Moscow, 117485, Russian Federation

Ph.D. in Pedagogy, Professor, professor of the Chair of Training Foreign Specialists of A.S. Pushkin Russian Language State Institute. Research interests: methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language, teaching phonetics, accent, intonation, listening in teaching a foreign language. Published more than 100 publications

Irina A Orekhova

Pushkin State Russian Language Institute

Email: orexova_irina@mail.ru
6, Akademika Volgina str., Moscow, 117485, Russian Federation

Ph.D. in Pedagogy, Professor, professor of the Chair of Training Foreign Specialists of A.S. Pushkin Russian Language State Institute. Research interests: methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language, teaching lexis. Published more than 85 publications

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