Spontaneous speech is not as tidy as the clear careful speech that we use to teach pronunciation to learners of English. But the unruliness, speeds, and messiness have to be mastered if learners are to become expert listeners to English. I believe it is vital that recordings should be used as evidence, and for demonstrations of the secrets of everyday spontaneous speech. This area of the website contains short extracts of evidence divided into two sections: Ying’s Dilemma and English as a lingua Franca.
Ying is a learner who kept a diary about her experiences while she was learning to listen. She wrote:
‘I believe I need to learn what the word sounds like when it is used in the sentence. Because sometimes when a familiar word is used in a sentence, I couldn’t catch it. Maybe it changes somewhere when it is used in a sentence’ (Goh 1997, p. 366).
Ying’s dilemma is that she fails to recognise familiar words when she hears them. She believes that she needs to learn something: how words change their soundshape when they occur in a sentence. Ying is describing clearly a problem that teachers are largely unaware of: the soundshapes of words change according to their relationships to other words. Ying uses familiar terms ‘words’ and ‘sentences’: my view is that we need to move away from these terms, and the concepts they represent, if we are to help learners like Ying. Examples here.
There are far more speakers of English for whom English is a second language than there are speakers for whom it is a native language. It is not necessary to speak RP or any type of proper English to suceed both professionally and socially. You can hear recordings of L2 accented English here.