Why is it necessary to learn phonetics and phonology? There are many specialists who think studying phonetics and phonology is necessary and many others who think it is not necessary. Personally, I think it is necessary. The theoretical knowledge of phonetics and phonology is necessary for anyone in order to understand the principles regulating the use of sounds in spoken English.
Have you ever heard the expression “English is not systematic”? What about “English words don’t follow rules”? And, my favorite one: “studying phonetics and phonology is not important”. All of these statements are false.
Here are some reasons why the studying of phonetics is necessary:
First of all, the theoretical background of phonetics and phonology gives you confidence, that confidence that is absolutely necessary for any learner of English.
Teachers must help learners of English to develop different strategies to help students pronounce words even when their teacher is not available. Learning a foreign language involves a lot of self studying time. Practicing alone, at home, requires a theoretical background to follow. Let’s consider the following scenario: I am reading something and there is a word that I don’t know. I am opening a dictionary and I am checking the meaning and the phonemic transcription (to see how I should pronounce the word). There are sounds and I have to produce as accurately as possible. There is no teacher to ask for help. This has happened to me a thousand times.
Phonetics and Phonology provides a new way of dissecting and analyzing English language. It helped me to improve my pronunciation and definitely it helped others as well.
Remembering new words is easier when they are discussed and analyzed. Analyzing the meaning and the sound of a word at the same time helps learners of English to remember the vocabulary items easier.
Learning phonetics and phonology is definitely a difficult thing. Many learners of English avoid it and find it useless. Those who are hard-working and took this step into the study of phonology find it very useful. Being difficult doesn’t mean it has to be eliminated or it is not effective. Eliminating all difficult things from learning English process (in order to make our students happy) ends up in doing just a simple communication class and limit learners’ progress.
Learners of English should study a program that is well balanced including phonics studies that are linked to speaking, listening, phonological awareness, writing, and reading programs.