A Common Misconception

It happens all the time. I say learners can learn the difficult sounds of English through exposure to video clips, and someone argues they can’t and cite a study by Patricia Kuhl. It is an all too common misunderstanding. In the study referred to, 9-month old American infants were exposed to native Mandarin Chinese speakers … Read more

Fine Tuning Phonics 2

Phonemic awareness (PA) is the ability to perceive and manipulate the sounds of a language. Yeong & Rickard-Liow (2012) define it as the ability to segment words into constituting sounds and to blend these sounds to form new words. This type of awareness requires the recognition of phonemes, which are the smallest unit of language … Read more

Fine-tuning Phonics 1

I ended my last post with a quote from Dr. Usha Goswami, the Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at Cambridge University:       …the way in which the brain represents the sound-structure of spoken language -phonology-     is critical for the future development of literacy. The brain develops phonological   … Read more

Pronunciation Instruction: Forgotten?

Pronunciation Instruction: Forgotten? It has been suggested that pronunciation is the forgotten orphan of language teaching (Gilbert, 2010). This is odd, isn’t it? Pronunciation is what people notice most when speaking to a non-native speaker of any language. An L2 speaker can live without perfect grammar. If she cannot say something grammatically complex, she can … Read more

Phonemic Awareness and Word Learning

Phonemic Awareness and Word Learning My earlier posts give an overview of the research in phoneme acquisition and discuss the best way to teach phonemic awareness. I believe these posts offer a basic understanding of the what and the how of phonemic training. My next posts will focus on the why. They will answer the … Read more

Phonics and Phonemic Awareness

  Phonemic Awareness and Phonics Phonics is the method of teaching beginning readers to connect the sounds of spoken language with letters. Children are taught the letters and the sounds the letters “stand for.” This is NOT the same thing as phonemic or phonological awareness. The terms are not interchangeable.  To be clear, phonological and phonemic awareness are … Read more

The Native Language Magnet Theory 2

I presented at a recent ETJ Expo on phoneme acquisition, which is what I’ve been posting about in this blog. One of the questions that arose was about the Native Language Magnet Theory (NLM). I have already written on the topic, and in this post I will say a bit more. I will briefly place … Read more

The Best Technique for Phonemic Training

The Best Technique for Phonemic Training  The last two posts pointed out that before children speak their native language, they create a sound map which requires a perceptive shift from distinguishing all sounds to only distinguishing the sounds of their native language.  This is not to say that children cannot learn L2 sounds. On the … Read more

The Native Language Magnet theory

The Native Language Magnet Theory In the last post, I discussed the research showing that children lose the ability to hear non-native sounds at 1-year of age. And as I said in the post, a video demonstrating this can be found in the Theory section at aka-kara.com. In this post, I will discuss one of … Read more

At 1-year of age

At One-year of Age People, a lot of them anyway, do not want to believe what I am about to say: Children lose the ability to hear L2 phonemes at around 1-year of age. (Werker & Tees, 1983).  This is fact, but when I point it out, reactions range from skepticism to outright denial. People … Read more

A Mission Statement

My name is Jim Jensen. I am the President, CEO, and only employee of Aka-Kara English. This is my first blog post and, as stated in the title, this blog will focus on the sounds of English. My hope is to provide readers with valuable information and a place to share ideas. That said, while … Read more

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