Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pronouncing English words

One of the things I'm sometimes asked to do during class is read aloud short texts or vocabulary words from the textbook so that students can hear the correct pronunciation.

Every once and a while, but not often, a word will pop up that I've never seen before.  And sometimes the pronunciation of this word isn't so obvious.  Luckily in a classroom of ESL learners, I can make-up a pronunciation and chances are good that no one will notice.

This happened today in my pharmacy class.  I'm reading a care plan for a minor burn, and come to the following step:
"3) Gently remove any rings, watches, shoes, etc., to avoid having an oedema."
Oedema. Oh-DEE-mah? OH-dih-mah?  EH-dih-mah? OH-dee-mah?  No idea.  I think I read it "OH-dih-mah" when I got to the word in class.

Later on came the sentence, "The burn exudes a lot and it's very painful".  Another word I was unfamiliar with, but this time I could easily pronounce it.

You should have seen me cringe when I had to read this sentence:
"Do not remove any clothes sticked to the burn."
It took every ounce of strength to not say "stuck" instead.

So how would you pronunciate "oedema"?  Have you seen this word before?  Is it a word I should be familiar with?


  1. Hi Rebe! An "edema" is swelling-- that must be a British spelling. they still use the Greek-influenced spelling for medical words (like foetus instead of fetus, gynaecologist, etc.)

    Is this class in a training program for nursing assistants or something like that? Not vocab you would expect to see in a typical textbook!

  2. I'm teaching in two formación profesional schools; so I have some secretary classes, administration, gestión, electronics, and this particular class was with a pharmacy group.