Islamic Azad University
Ilam Science And Research Branch
Faculty of Humanities, Department of English Language Teaching
Thesis for Receiving “M.A” Degree on A Teaching
English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Investigating Ilami EFL teachers’ performance in pronunciation of neutral and non-neutral suffixes
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Mastering pronunciation in EFL context, where direct access to native speaker is scarce, is a highly challenging objective for many language students in Iran. Derivative words more specifically, pose their own problems. There are different types of suffixes, two of which are neutral and non-neutral. This study examines the effects of the gender, experience, academic degree and the teaching place of English teachers on the pronunciation of the neutral and non-neutral suffixes. The sample included 40 Ilamian EFL teachers teaching English at different high schools and institutes. None of teachers studied in English speaking countries. They were classified into two groups male and female with B.A. and M.A. degree who taught at different schools and institutes. To analyze data two kinds of test employed: The Man-Whitney U Test for gender, academic degree and place of teaching, and The Kruskal–Wallis for teaching experience. There is no treatment in this study. According to these two tests and the analyses of dependant and independent variables, it can be concluded that there is no meaningful differences between female and male answers in the pronunciation of neutral and non-neutral suffixes. Also the difference between teachers having M.A and B.A degree with the pronunciation of neutral and non-neutral suffixes is not meaningful. But there is a meaningful difference between teaching place and the pronunciation of the neutral and non-neutral suffixes. Furthermore, conserning the last element, it can be said that there is no meaningful difference between three existed ranges of experience with the pronunciation of neutral and non-neutral suffixes.
Key words: pronunciation, derivative words, neutral suffixes, non-neutral suffixes
1-1 Over view
The first chapter of this study addresses the introduction. It is organized in six major sections: a) introduction, b) statement of problem, c) research questions, e) research hypotheses, f) significance of the study and g) definition of the technical terms.
When we think of English skills, the ‘four skills’ of listening, speaking, reading, and writing readily come to mind. Of course other skills such as pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling all play a role in effective English communication (Bauer, Laurie, 1988).
Listening skills are vital for learners. Of the ‘four skills,’ listening is by far the most frequently used. Listening and speaking are often taught together, but beginners, especially non-literate ones, should be given more listening than speaking practice. It’s important to speak as close to natural speed as possible, although with beginners some slowing is usually necessary. Without reducing your speaking speed, you can make your language easier to comprehend by simplifying your vocabulary, using shorter sentences, and increasing the number and length of pauses in your speech (Teschner & Whitley, 2004; Fudge, 1984).
Speaking English is the main goal of many adult learners. Their personalities play a large role in determining how quickly and how correctly they will accomplish this goal. Those who are risk-takers unafraid of making mistakes will generally be more talkative, but with many errors that could become hard-to-break habits. Conservative, shy students may take a long time to speak confidently, but when they do, their English often contains fewer errors and they will be proud of their English ability. It’s a matter of quantity vs. quality, and neither approach is wrong. However, if the aim of speaking is communication and that does not require perfect English, then it makes sense to encourage quantity in your classroom. Break the silence and get students communicating with whatever English they can use, correct or not and selectively address errors that block communication. Speaking lessons often tie in pronunciation and grammar which are necessary for effective oral communication (Teschner & Whitley, 2004; Fudge, 1984).
We encounter a great variety of written language day to day — articles, stories, poems, announcements, letters, labels, signs, bills, recipes, schedules, questionnaires, cartoons, the list is endless. Literate adults easily recognize the distinctions of various types of texts (Teschner & Whitley, 2004; Fudge, 1984).
Good writing conveys a meaningful message and uses English well, but the message is more important than correct presentation. If you can understand the message or even part of it, your student has succeeded in communicating on paper and should be praised for that. For many adult ESL learners, writing skills will not be used much outside your class. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be challenged to write, but you should consider their needs and balance your class time appropriately. Many adults who do not need to write will enjoy it for the purpose of sharing their thoughts and personal stories, and they appreciate a format where they can revise their work into better English than if they shared the same information orally (Celce-Murcia et al, 1996; Laroy, 1995).
Grammar is often named as a subject difficult to teach. Its technical language and complex rules can be intimidating (Gainesville, William (1987). Teaching a good grammar lesson is one thing, but what if you’re in the middle of a reading or speaking activity and a student has a grammar question? Some students may have studied grammar in their home countries and be surprised that you don’t understand, “Does passive voice always need the past participle?” But even if your student’s question is simple and jargon-free, explaining grammar is a skill you will need to acquire through practice. If you don’t know how to explain it on the spot, write down the specific sentence or structure in question and tell the student you will find out. There are several resources below that can help you understand and explain various grammar issues (Anderson, R. C., & Freebody, P. 1983).
One of the most difficult troubles facing non-native speakers of English is pronunciation. It is usually the largest obstacle to overcome when trying to achieve fluency.
Pronunciation is an integral part of second or foreign language learning since it directly affects learners’ communicative competence as well as performance on the career. It is the primary medium for communication in which people share ideas and understandings with each other (Jenkins, 2000). Correct pronunciation is an important factor determining the meaningfulness and success of communication.
Pronunciation involves far more than individual sounds. As defined by Peter Roach (2004), pronunciation has been viewed as the sum of three components. The components are sounds, stress and intonation. Word stress, sentence stress, intonation, and word linking all influence the sound of spoken English, not to mention the way we often slur words and phrases together in casual speech (Roach, 2004). ‘What are you going to do?’ becomes ‘Whaddaya gonna do?’ English pronunciation involves too many complexities for learners to strive for a complete elimination of accent, but improving pronunciation will boost self esteem, facilitate communication, and possibly lead to a better job or at least more respect in the workplace. Effective communication is of greatest importance, so choose first to work on problems that significantly hinder communication and let the rest go (Jenkins, 2000). Remember that your students also need to learn strategies for dealing with misunderstandings, since native pronunciation is for most an unrealistic goal. A student’s first language often interferes with English pronunciation. For example, /p/ is aspirated in English but not in Spanish, so when a Spanish speaker pronounces ‘pig’ without a puff of air on the /p/, an American may hear ‘big’ instead (Freyd, P., & Baron, J. 1982). Sometimes the students will be able to identify specific problem sounds and sometimes they won’t. You can ask them for suggestions, but you will also need to observe them over time and make note of problem sounds. Another challenge resulting from differences in the first language is the inability to hear certain English sounds that the native language does not contain. Often these are vowels, as in ‘ship’ and ‘sheep,’ which many learners cannot distinguish. The Japanese are known for confusing /r/ and /l/, as their language contains neither of these but instead has one sound somewhere between the two. For problems such as these, listening is crucial because students can’t produce a sound they can’t hear (Dalton, D. 2002). Descriptions of the sound and mouth position can help students increase their awareness of subtle sound differences (Morley, J. 1991).
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