Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

A Study on Correlations between the College EFL Learners' Phonetic Level and Their Listening Comprehension: A Case Study of Arts & Sciences College, Yangtze University

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

A Study on Correlations between the College EFL Learners' Phonetic Level and Their Listening Comprehension: A Case Study of Arts & Sciences College, Yangtze University

Article excerpt

Abstract

Phonetics and phonology, especially pronunciation, are the basis of listening and speaking, and the reformed CET4 and CET6 in China further emphasize the importance of listening ability. Thus it is truly necessary to figure out if there is any relationship between the phonetics and listening abilities. Phonetics is among the compulsory courses at the basic stage of English teaching for English majors, whereas the non-English majors don't take this subject. You can imagine their pronunciation. Many college English teachers have found that phonetic problems have affected the students' English learning to a great extent. Students have been largely hindered and discouraged from pursuing accurate pronunciation and intonation. Some even have lost confidence in English learning, especially for the course of listening. In order to find out some measures to solve these problems, the writer conduct the present study on 160 sophomores who are non-English majors at Art & Science College, Yangtze University. The aims of the thesis are to investigate their pronunciation and basic phonetic knowledge. In the aspect of pronunciation, it aims to survey that the students' pronunciation is accurate or not. The basic phonetic knowledge refers to intonation, stress, weak form and strong form of words, incomplete plosives, liaison, assimilation and so on.

Two tests are self-designed based on the materials and existing researches in this area. One test paper is phonetic test, the other is dictation test. After all the necessary statistics are collected, the SPSS is used to analyze the scores to figure out if there is correlation between students' phonetic level and their listening abilities and then get results.

The results of the analyses show that there is correlation between the participants' phonetic level and their listening ability, and their listening ability is closely related to their comprehensive English level. What's more, the participants have similar mistakes and weaknesses in the phonetics, which may instruct teachers and students to some extent. Firstly, the participants are poor in distinguishing the minimum pairs of English sounds. Secondly, the participants' are poor in the skills of reading phrases, or we can say they lack the basic knowledge of liaison, incomplete plosives, assimilation, and etc. Thirdly, although the participants have done a good job in reading sentences in the phonetic test, they have great difficulties in dictating sentences, especially long sentences.

At last, based on the research results, the present study gives some suggestions of improving students' phonetic level and listening ability. The thesis also states its limitations and expectations for improvement.

Key words: Phonetic level; Listening ability; Correlation; Non-English majors

INTRODUCTION

Basically speaking, language is a tool of communication. A real and meaningful language is the speech which is based on material basis of human's vocal organs. Therefore, the basis of the existence and development of language is sound. With the vocal sound, people can achieve the purpose of exchanging ideas. The abilities of listening and speaking are playing an essential part in the process of actual communication. In this thesis, I'll focus on the influence of basic phonetic knowledge on listening comprehension. Phonetics is among the compulsory courses at the basic stage of English teaching and there are three definite requirements in terms of pronunciation, intonation and speech flow, which are specified by The Teaching Program for English Major at Colleges and Universities and are issued by the National Education Department in 2000. However, a large number of college graduates of English major or non-English major are actually pretty poor in oral communication. The problems of the English pronunciation of Chinese students result from various reasons. For example, conventional and rigid teaching approaches have been largely adopted; Students' spontaneity and potential have not been able to be mobilized and inspired due to limited classroom practice as well as the lack of good sample phonetics materials which are designed for teaching and imitation drills; competent teachers are insufficient for those at the critical age of foreign language learning. …

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