EFL Grapho-Phonemics: The “Teachability” of Stressed Vowel Pronunciation Rules

Enrique Cámara-Arenas


Despite the existence of a vast and solid heritage supporting their validity and reliability, pronunciation rules that assist the phonemic interpretation of graphemic structures are not usually taught in the EFL classroom at any level. Since a likely reason for this absence might lie in the intrinsic complexity of the English writing system, a convenient reduction is presented in the form of ten basic rules for the interpretation of vocalic graphemes in stressed syllable. These rules are understood within an EFL oriented conceptual frame that introduces distinctions between oxytone, paroxytone and proparoxytone structures, as well as systemic/specific, post-nuclear/pre-nuclear and adjacent/distant grapho-phonemic contexts. With this approach, I attempt to generate the kind of grapho-phonemic knowledge that might be useful within the EFL context. The reliability and representativity of these rules have been tested against a wordlist of 5,000 frequent English words. Notions of what to teach and in what order can be derived from the findings. A rich array of results is presented that might be further explored and discussed by EFL instructors.

Keywords: English orthography; English pronunciation; phonics; grapho-phonemics; reading; EFL teaching

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