The research is aimed to investigate typical single final consonant errors in the pronunciation of NTU students and raise their awareness of their pronunciation problems

It is undeniable that oral communication proficiency is one of the key targets any Vietnamese ESL learners wish to achieve. However, a big number of foreigners have commented “many Vietnamese speakers can speaking English, but only a few have intelligible English pronunciation that they can be understood easily in direct communication with foreigners” (Ha, 2005, Common Pronunciation Problems of Vietnamese Learners of English, p.1) As a matter of fact, Vietnamese learners of ESL encounter considerable pronunciation difficulties concerned with their own language. Like other languages, Vietnamese sound system has several phonetic features making Vietnamese people find it hard to pronounce some English sounds like native speakers. One of the outstanding problems faced by Vietnamese ESL learners lies in the pronunciation of single English final consonants. In an attempt to gain insights into the problem in English single final consonant pronunciation of the first year students at Nguyen Trai University, the researcher has conducted this study in order to identify some common errors in their pronouncing single final consonants. Once having been completed, this study would give decent benefits. On the first place, the research can draw out some typical pronunciation mistakes made by NTU first year student. Consequently, it can helpfully contribute to the understanding of the students’ difficulties arising while learning to speak English with appropriate pronunciation.

doc14 trang | Chia sẻ: thientruc20 | Lượt xem: 394 | Lượt tải: 0download
Bạn đang xem nội dung tài liệu The research is aimed to investigate typical single final consonant errors in the pronunciation of NTU students and raise their awareness of their pronunciation problems, để tải tài liệu về máy bạn click vào nút DOWNLOAD ở trên
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................3 Rationale ..................................................................................................3 Aims of the study ....................................................................................3 Scope of the study ....................................................................................4 2. LITERATURE REVIEW...........................................................................4 2.1. English pronunciation......................................4 2.2. English consonants ..............................................4 2.3. Final English consonants ....................................5 3. METHODOLOGY .....................................................................................7 3.1. Subjects....................................................................................................7 3.2. Procedures of data collection...................................................................7 3.3. Procedures of data analysis......................................................................8 4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION ................................................................8 4.1. Omission of single final consonants...................................................9 4.2. Substitution of single final consonants.............................................11 5: CONCLUSION.........................................................................................12 REFERENCES .............................................................................................13 APPENCDICES ...........................................................................................14 Appendix 1.......................................................................................14 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS, FIGURES AND TABLES List of abbreviations ESL: English as a Second Language EFL: English as a Foreign Language NTU : Nguyen Trai University List of figures Figure 1: The proportion of omission errors in single final consonants List of tables Table 1: The classification of English consonants Table 2: The proportion of types of error in single final consonant pronunciation Table 3: The proportion of substitution errors in single final consonants I. INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale It is undeniable that oral communication proficiency is one of the key targets any Vietnamese ESL learners wish to achieve. However, a big number of foreigners have commented “many Vietnamese speakers can speaking English, but only a few have intelligible English pronunciation that they can be understood easily in direct communication with foreigners” (Ha, 2005, Common Pronunciation Problems of Vietnamese Learners of English, p.1) As a matter of fact, Vietnamese learners of ESL encounter considerable pronunciation difficulties concerned with their own language. Like other languages, Vietnamese sound system has several phonetic features making Vietnamese people find it hard to pronounce some English sounds like native speakers. One of the outstanding problems faced by Vietnamese ESL learners lies in the pronunciation of single English final consonants. In an attempt to gain insights into the problem in English single final consonant pronunciation of the first year students at Nguyen Trai University, the researcher has conducted this study in order to identify some common errors in their pronouncing single final consonants. Once having been completed, this study would give decent benefits. On the first place, the research can draw out some typical pronunciation mistakes made by NTU first year student. Consequently, it can helpfully contribute to the understanding of the students’ difficulties arising while learning to speak English with appropriate pronunciation. 1.2. Aims of the study The research is aimed to investigate typical single final consonant errors in the pronunciation of NTU students and raise their awareness of their pronunciation problems. Research questions: Do NTU students make mistakes when pronouncing English final consonants? What are the common errors in pronouncing English final consonants made by first year students at NTU? 1.3. Scope of the study Within the scope of a small research with the maximum number of 3,000 in length, the study is conducted with no ambition to cover all the pronunciation problems encountered by Vietnamese ESL learners in general or even by NTU students in particular. The main focus of this study is limited to identifying some common mistakes in single final consonant pronunciation made by first year students at NTU only. 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1. English pronunciation There have been so far various ways of defining the terminology “pronunciation”. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Encyclopedia (2004), pronunciation is considered “the way in which a language is spoken”. As cited in Nguyen (2008:06), the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2007) defines pronunciation as “a way of speaking a word, especially a way that is accepted or generally understood”. In the scope of this study, the researcher would like to mention pronunciation as the production and reception of sounds of speech, especially the final consonant sounds. 2.2. English consonant sounds In “Language: Its structure and use” (2004), Edward Finegan offer the following definition of consonant: “consonants are sounds produced by partially or completely blocking air in its passage from the lung through the vocal track” Roach (2000) defines consonants as “sounds in which there is obstruction to the flow of air as it passes the larynx” Also according to Roach (2000) and Kelly (2000), English has 24 consonants which are categorized into 6 groups based on their manner of articulation, that is: stop (plosive), fricative, affricative nasal, lateral and approximant. Bilabial Labio- dental Dental Alveolar Palato- alveolar Plata Velar Glottal Plosive +b - p +d -t +g -k Fricative +v - f + ð - θ +z -s  +ʒ - ʃ +h Affricate + dʒ - tʃ Nasal +m +n + ŋ Lateral +l Approximant +w +r +j Table 1: The classification of English consonants 2.3. English final consonants Yule ( 2006: 47) states “ The basic structure of the kind of syllable found in English words .is shown in the accompanying diagram” Syllable Onset Rhyme Nuleus Coda Consonant(s) Vowel Consonant(s) The term “final consonants” refers to the consonant sounds which appear at the end of words. In linguistics, they are also called codas, “the coda is the final consonant or consonant cluster” (Barbara and Brian, 1994) According to Rachel (2003), there can be 4 consonants in a coda: If there are no consonants at the end of the word, it has zero codas. A single coda is called the final consonant. Any consonants except /h/, /r/, /w/ and /j/ may be a final coda. Two consonant cluster + Pre-final: /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /l/, /s/ followed by a final consonant +Consonant plus post-final :/s/, /z/, /t/, /d/, /θ/ Eg : tank, edge, bell, wind, cooks - Three consonant clusters + Pre-final plus final plus post-final Eg. helped, banks, bonds, twelfth + Final plus post-final plus post final s, z, t, d, θ E.g. fifths, next, lapsed Four consonant clusters. + Most are pre-final plus final plus post final plus post-final E.g. twelfths, prompts + Occasionally there is one final and three post final consonants e.g. sixths, texts. Yule (2006:48) suggested that “It is noticeable in English that large consonant clusters are frequently reduced in casual conversational speech”. In fact, speakers tend to omit complex consonant clusters in order to simplify the process of articulation. As this study is aimed to identify the pronunciation errors in common single final consonants only, the data collected would only refer to single codas or single final consonants rather than other types of codas. 3. METHODOLOGY 3.1. Subjects The participants in this research were 42 first year students from 2 classes in NTU, the new private university where the researcher is working as an English lecturer. Also being in charge of teaching these two classes, the researcher has obtained the good understanding of their English proficiency. Coming from different parts of Vietnam, most of them studied English for 7 years from secondary to high school. It is also needed to mention that all of these students are not from the class majored in English but they only learn English as one of the obligatory subjects in class. When this study was conducted, all of them had been studying at NTU for one a half semester at the level of Elementary with the main text books listed as “ Market Leader – Elementary”, “Essential Grammar in Use” and “Let’s talk 1”, in most of which , there are not many sections specialized in teaching pronunciation. The students mostly learn about English pronunciation only from the teacher’s additional instruction and correction of their pronunciation mistakes during the lessons in class. All the things above refer to the fact that most of these students’ English background knowledge in general and their pronunciation knowledge in particular are still rather limited. 3.2. Procedures of data collection The necessary data were collected during March, 2011 in 2 first year classes in NTU. Several data collection instruments were employed to gain access to the students’ problems in pronouncing final consonants. The first instrument adopted is class observation since the researcher had plenty of time and opportunities to directly observe the students during every lesson in class. The detailed schedule was based on 2 classes’ timetable of English speaking lesson with 1 period per class per week. So from 1st to 20th March, the total number of periods in which the observation in both classes was conducted during 3 weeks was 6 periods. The students were required to work in pairs or individually on a speaking topic of the lesson they had learned. Whenever a student made a speech, the researcher took note in the check list ( See Appendix 1) all the mistakes with his or her pronouncing single final consonants. Added to that, the audio-recording instrument was also adopted to collect information for take-home analysis. Placed on the teacher’s desk, the tape recorder was used when the students came to make pair discussion or individual presentation. Both the process of observation and audio-recording were carried out at the same time during 6 periods of speaking lesson in 2 classes. 3.3. Procedures of data analysis After the data had been collected from observation and recording process, they were analyzed carefully in a systematical way with the application of both statistical and interpretive method, which ensured the validity and reliability of the study. All the errors made by students were counted according to the criteria of types, sounds frequency. They were then classified and organized into tables and charts to facilitate the synthesis and comparison. Pie charts were used to analyze and compare the figures in a general sense while tables were preferably applied when further details were required. 4: RESULTS AND CONCLUSION The statistics listed in the data analysis were calculated to figure out the percentage (in total of 100%) of the common single final consonant pronunciation errors made by the students. Besides, the researcher would like to make a further discussion on those findings with the aim to find out some methods to improve the students’ single final consonant pronunciation. The most common errors were chosen in regard to the number of times they were made and the number of students who made those kinds of errors. The result of the statistical process showed that the outstanding types of errors could be classified into 2 main groups: omission of single final consonants and substitution of single final consonants. Among the total number of 284 errors, 218 ones belonged to the group of final consonant omission and the rest of 61 were the substitution errors. Types of errors Number of students (total:42) Number of times (total:284) Number Percentage Number Percentage Omission 41 98% 218 77% Substitution 15 35% 66 23% Table 2. The proportion of types of error in final consonant pronunciation It can be seen from the table above that up to 77% (repeated 218 times) of the errors collected are identified as omission errors made by a big proportion of 98% students. This figure refers to the students’ most popular pronunciation mistakes with single ending consonants. As for the second notable type of substitution errors, the percentage of error repetition is 23% with 15 students making this error (repeated 66 times). In order to have a closer look at these two kinds of errors, the researcher made a detailed and in-depth analysis of each error as follows 4.1. Omission of single final consonants As mentioned before, consonants /h/, /r/, /w/ and /j/ can not be a final coda which can be the final consonant or consonant cluster. Therefore, only 20 consonants considered as single final consonants are analyzed in this study. Figure 1 As can be seen from the chart, among the rest of 20 consonants, there are several ones to be rarely omitted while the others’ omission is particularly serious. On the first place, the group of 6 consonants, such as /m/,/n/,/g/,/tʃ/ ,/ʒ/,/ŋ/ share the same number of errors, that is zero. That should be explained by the following reasons. Firstly, being produced through the nose with the mouth closed, the nasal ending sounds: /m/, /n/, /ŋ/ in Vietnamese seem not to be much different from those in English. These 3 consonants in fact, are also paid little attention in pronouncing when they are at the end of words. The similar situation happens to the consonant /g/. However, when it comes to 2 consonants /tʃ/ and /ʒ/, the researcher finds the percentage of zero surprising since those sounds are considered difficult for Vietnamese to pronounce. It is possible that the number of words ending with these 3 consonants were not used much in student’s speech. The similar explanation can be used for the case of the consonant /ð/ with 3 errors made since few words the students spoke ended with this sound. Also counting for small number of errors is the 2 plosive- bilabial consonants /b/and /p/. It is said that the way they are pronounced in Vietnamese with two lips closed together is just like that in English. On the other hand, it is revealed that the students encounter great trouble with some plosives and fricatives when they appear at the end of words. The alveolar-plosive consonant /t/ certainly appears at the ending position of many Vietnamese words; however, the way it is pronounced is completely different from that in English. More noticeably, there are a large number of English ending consonants which never occur as ending consonants in Vietnamese words, such as /s/, /l/, /v/, /d/ although they also belong to Vietnamese alphabet. What is more, some English final consonants, like /ʃ/, / dʒ/, / tʃ/ and /θ/ are really hard for students to pronounce as they are totally new to their native language. All the reason mentioned above may be explain the reason why the students makes that great number of errors with these English ending consonant. 4.2. Substitution of final consonants The mistake of substitution of sounds may result from the students’ misconception and lack of understanding about some distinctive features of certain consonants. That leads to their confusion when it comes to pronouncing some sounds in a correct way as they find it uneasy to distinguish one sound from other similar sound. The table above presents the way the students replace certain single final consonants with others Substitution errors in single final consonants Number of errors (total:66) Percentage d=t 9 14% z=s 22 33% v=f 4 6% ð = z /s 12 18% ʃ=s 19 29% Table 3: The proportion of substitution errors in single final consonants As it can be seen from the table, most of the substitutions are made between 2 final consonants with the only difference in their voicing but with the same manner and place of articulation, such as /t/ and /d/, /z/ and /s/, /v/ and /f/. Whereas, few students have good knowledge of this phonetic theory and in fact, they are themselves have difficulty in pronouncing the ending voiced consonants like /d/, /z/, / ð/ and /ʃ/. Therefore, the students tend to be confused a lot with this kind of final consonant pronunciation. On the whole, there are two common types of errors NTU freshmen made with the pronunciation of single final consonants, that is: the sound omission and sound substitution, among which the first type is committed with the bigger number of times and students as well. 5. CONCLUSION In the sum, this research paper is expected to perform as a fairly comprehensive study on identifying some common errors in pronouncing single final consonant made by NTU first year students. Significant findings concerning the research questions have been revealed through a process of the investigation. Firstly, the findings show most of the students make a lot of pronunciation mistakes, especially with ending final consonants. The second important conclusion to be drawn out is about the most common types of errors in pronouncing singular final consonants. Remarkably, NTU freshmen tend to make much more omission errors than substitution errors. This fact can be resulted from their limited knowledge of English phonetics and the considerable influence from their mother tongue in their English speaking as well. That also contributes to raise the awareness of common errors in pronouncing single final consonants among both teachers and learners. The teacher, therefore, is motivated to find out effective methods to help students limit these kinds of mistakes and improve their English pronunciation. Although this research has been conducted to the best of the researcher’s efforts, time constraint and other unexpected objective factors have led to certain unavoidable limitations involving the collection of the subject selection and procedure of data collection. The total number of participants remained relatively limited. There were only 42 students from 2 classes at NTU; thus the reliability of samples might not be ensured. Added to this, the research was conducted within a short period of time; thus the data collected may not be successful to make an accurate reflection of all the errors NTU first year students may make with pronouncing ending final consonants. Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, the research’s flexibility and serious work is expected to have well retained the validity and reliability of the result. However, it is worth noting that these above shortcomings should always be taken into consideration when further related studies are conducted in the future. REFERENCES Barbara A. H., Brian B. (1997). The Status of Final Consonant Clusters in English Syllables: Evidence from Children Journal of Experimental Child Psychology Volume 64, Issue 1, p. 119-136 University of New England, New South Wales, Australia. Retrieved January 16, 2009 from the web Ha, C.T. (2005). Common pronunciation problems of Vietnamese learners of English. Journal of Science - Foreign Languages. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from the World Wide Web Kelly, G. (2003). How to teach pronunciation. Oxfordshire: Bluestone Press Nguyen, T.T.T (2007). Difficulties for Vietnamese when pronouncing English final consonants. Högskolan Dalarna, Engelska C. Uppsats Nguyen, H.D. (2008) Common mispronunciations made by CLC students at English Department, College of Foreign Languages, Vietnam National University. VNU, Hanoi. Rachael, A.K. (2003). Understanding English Variation. Universit