I’ve been teaching English with Savry for the last couple of weeks and have come across some roadblocks the Khmer have to successful pronunciation. Even Savry, who otherwise has a relatively stern grasp of grammar and vocabulary, falls short in pronunciation. The main problem she’s brought to my attention is the lack of proper pronunciation in the schools. University professors are often Khmer or Filipino, thus, their ability pronounce words correctly is shoddy at best and their ability to identify incorrect pronunciation in others is far worse.
This leads to the sorts of problems we have communicating with Khmer students. A second year university student studying English, to whom I’m also teaching English through the New Testament, couldn’t understand me when I said the word girl. I said girl. Then I slowed it down: giiirrrrllll. Nothing. Finally, in disbelief, I wrote it down and her face lit up almost as if to say, “Of course I know that word!” Then, in a demeaning voice she said, “giiiiii…” As if, all along, I had been the one saying it wrong!
Savry and I have tried sorting out the biggest problems in this one page pdf. If anyone out there is teaching English to Khmer students, please feel free to print this out and use it. To access the pdf, click here or on the picture above.