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There is a commonly held assumption that to learn a language, one must begin with grammar. But if decades of local experience are any guide, it is time we looked for alternatives to merely memorizing grammatical rules and vocabulary.

Focusing on speech sounds as a starting point of mastering a foreign language has another advantage. Like Cantonese, English has its own rhythmic pattern, or what we perceive as "native" accents. Properly incorporated in the learning process, such "melodic" quality can make learning English a fun and satisfying experience.

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of widely recognized symbols representing speech sounds. We believe knowledge of IPA is prime for English learners

because it helps lay the all-important foundation for communicative ability in English. Through initial "imitation" and later "conscious production", learners gradually gain confidence in speaking, which in turn further motivates them to continue to learn.

Seemingly minor sound variations can lead to significant differences in meanings, for which what basically is to blame might just be your lip shapes or tongue positions. If you are in a position where confusions between "port" and "pot", "of" and "off", and "pet" and "pat" are no longer acceptable, IPA is a right place to start. As you gain mastery of the two main categories of human speech sounds, vowels and consonants, your pronunciation and overall accent improve.

Course Objectives
enhance learners' confidence in speaking by improving their pronunciation;
enable learners to become independent self-learners of English through the use of dictionary.
enable learners to rapidly expand their vocabulary;
strengthen learners' sensitivity to sound variations, in order to enhance their "Listening Comprehension" and "Pronunciation";
train learners to learn through imitation and the techniques involved;
introduce the phonological differences between Cantonese and English;
familiarize learners with the similarities and differences between British and American English;
effectively enhance the learner's speaking skills.

Course Contents
"What is IPA?" and "Common local pronunciation mistakes"?
Mastering speech sounds: Vowels and Consonants.
The importance of lip shapes and tongue positions;
What is a "Syllable"?
What is "Stress"? and "The importance of stress pattern"?
How knowledge of IPA is applied in dictionary use to turn your dictionary into a useful pronunciation guide?
"Practice makes perfect" with your existing vocabulary;
Listening to phonetic variations in actual speech production;
Pronunciation variations characteristics of British and American English.

Based on English phonology, this course covers the entire repertoire of English phonemes - the smallest meaningful sounds used in English; or literally the "building blocks" for communicative competence in English. As Peter Roach, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Phonetics of University of Leeds, remarks, "Because of the notoriously confusing nature of English spelling, it is particulary important to learn to think of English pronunciation in terms of phonemes rather than letters of the alphabet."

With the aim of ridding participants' pronunciation of ingrained errors and improving their overall diction, this course is suitable for learners of all levels.

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