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Originally from London, I teach EFL to adults in Italy.

I get a lot of students whose English presents something like this:

"Lastuh weekenduh I wentuh shoppinguh to buy a newuh shirtuh"

I hope that describes the problem...they are separating the words rather than linking and adding an empty vowel sound at the end of words which end in a consonant. I suppose you could describe it as one of the features mother tongue speakers recognise as a stereotypical English pronunciation of Italians.

My usual technique is to highlight the fact to the student by recording them and then playing their voice back to them. I'm never quite sure if this is just a wee bit too traumatic for them but I can't think of a better alternative. Then I illustrate "joined up speech" and the numerous ways words link together. Then I point out that in fast speech these links between words tend to happen as a logical consequence of speaking faster. Then we do extensive practise which usual entails me getting them to rehearse and read a short text faster and faster...and sure enough the problem disappears! So far, so good.

The real problem I'm having is there appears to be no transfer between doing these types of exercises and the student's unconscious speech; as soon as they finish doing the exercise the problem returns, in most cases it's as if they've never done the exercise. I have to say that I don't think I've ever had much success with this technique but I have no other ideas.

It's evident that this is a well-recognised issue with (feature of?) Italian learners' English (I'm guessing other nationalities, too) but I've never seen any mention of it in any of the resources I've used.

I have a personal ongoing debate about whether or not I should even classify this as a "problem", bearing in mind it's not impeding meaning particularly, but I think in many students I see it's a such strong detracting feature of their spoken English that I consider it to be an issue of "quality" because it's getting in the way of their intended message (but much less so than the accent of the guy I used to live with from Glasgow...couldn't understand a word!) So there you go...perhaps I should just let it go.

Any thoughts? Ideas?

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Oh yes, that is a speech pattern that immediately marks them as Italians!
In some areas where there is an Italian diaspora, it can be a mark for discrimination and ridicule by the native English speakers.

A heavy Italian accent can also cause some hilarious side-effects;

AOvtE7fGU7A

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KeanLastuh weekenduh I wentuh shoppinguh to buy a newuh shirtuh

Indeed. You have to read quite a few paragraphs of Italian before you find a word that doesn't end in a vowel, so this is far from surprising.

Keanno transfer between doing these types of exercises and the student's unconscious speech

You have to keep drumming it into them that the purpose of the exercise is to learn and apply certain principles in their own spontaneous speech, and that they have to focus on this when speaking.

KeanI don't think I've ever had much success with this technique

In that case you probably haven't cracked any heads. Yet. Emotion: big smile

Keanwhether or not I should even classify this as a "problem"

Wonder no more. It's a problem. Emotion: smile

Keanperhaps I should just let it go.

They'll get it when they need to. Invent a way to make them need to. Threaten poor marks to all who speaka lika thissa.

Occasionally having students speak in a very exaggerated wrong way first can be helpful, especially if you can get them to laugh at how ridiculous it can sound. Follow up immediately with practice on the correct way.

CJ

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Wow...sounds like you have experience of this...and you have no qualms about embarrassing them...

It also sounds like you dedicate class time to this

CalifJimThey'll get it when they need to. Invent a way to make them need to. Threaten poor marks to all who speaka lika thissa.

One of our teachers uses the "slap" method: any student who hears another student making a mistake has permission to slap them. Could try that!

Kean"slap" method

Emotion: rofl

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CalifJimWonder no more. It's a problem.

Exactly. BBCLearningenglish has uploaded many video on their website regarding how native speakers link sounds in fluent speech. That shows they, too, have noticed the problem. These videos are quite helpful.

CalifJimOccasionally having students speak in a very exaggerated wrong way first can be helpful,

Agreed. That's how I made my English speaking skill and bit better.

CalifJimyou can get them to laugh at how ridiculous it can sound.

I will never venture to speak English again if anybody laughs at it. So, be careful.

I use the loud reading technique to tackle this problem. This always gave me quicker and positive results. Give your students a paragraph four or five sentences long to read aloud. Make corrections when they make 'uh', ' duh', and, most often, 'tid' sound.

I know its a tiresome technique, but trust me, on their forth or fifth reading you'll see a visible difference. When they stop making these sounds in their reading, eventually, they will stop making it while speaking.

PS: Give them a new paragraph each time.

 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Oh AS! How did you find the video? I guffawed for long. I'll never speak in English with a native. I'll never speak with a native at all. Thanks for the nice piece though.
sundarnazthe nice piece

The nice ***? Emotion: big smile Emotion: big smile Emotion: big smile

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