Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

A Comparative Study of English Multiple-Syllable Word Pronunciation Accuracy among Iranian Senior High School Students of Humanity and Natural Science

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

A Comparative Study of English Multiple-Syllable Word Pronunciation Accuracy among Iranian Senior High School Students of Humanity and Natural Science

Article excerpt

Introduction

Pronouncing a language properly is a key aspect when understanding and making ourselves understood. The meaning between the words like effect and affect are easily confused if the pronunciation is not clear.According to Rivers (1981, p.125), we have all had the experience, when listening to foreigners speaking our language, of having great difficulty in understanding what they are trying to say, not because of their lack of knowledge of vocabulary and language structure but because the sounds they prod uced seemed peculiar and the voice rose and fell unexpected places. Rivers (1981) further states since language is a means of communication, learning words, phrases and grammatical features are not enough, if the learners are not able to produce these in a way which makes their utterances comprehensible to a native speaker of the language. Cohen (1977 cited in Robertson, 2003) argues that teaching of pronunciation goals goes far beyond the teaching of phonemes.

This study is significant in two ways, first in terms of teaching pronunciation and second in terms of learning pronunciation. In terms of teaching pronunciation, pronunciation teaching in Iranian high schools has been neglected like many EFL countries over the world. There are many shortcoming s and problems with regard to the aspect of pronunciation training in Iranian High schools. One of these shortcomings can be attributed to the issue of English textbooks in Iranian High schools. The other reason of phonological problems that Iranian EFL students may have in pronunciation may be to the lack of formal instruction. According to Robertson (2003), English teachers must attain a comprehensive awareness of the phonological characteristics of first language and target language of the learners.Hayati (2010) has stated that inadequate knowledge of some teachers of English about Linguistics and Methodology has caused many problems for their students, for instance an English teacher pronounces a word in his/her class, but the year after, the same student may hear the same word with a completely different pronunciation. Other shortcomings related to the pronunciation training issue in Iranian High Shools can be mentioned as lack of facilities in the school environment such as instructional tapes, video-players, enough computers, DVD players.

This study is also significant in terms of learning pronunciation. In terms of learning pronunciation, learners are different. High school students who studying in two different fields, Humanity and Natural Science, use the same English Textbook and receive the same pronunciation training in Iran. The importance of this research is that, according to a uniform curriculum being provided to all fields, does it really still have the same results on two different groups of High School Students who are studying Natural Science and also those of the Human Science field in terms of pronunciation accuracy.

Centerman & Krausz (2011) have declared that difficulties in pronunciation sounds to be a problem for many teachers of a foreign language. They add that students can have different abilities when entering the L2 classroom that depend on aspects such as language background, exposure to the target language, age and even interest in the language. So, to Centerman & Krausz (2011), this makes it hard for a teacher to know how to approach individual learners in their individual pronunciation development. In line with this trend, Bradley & Bennett (2007, cited in Nikbakht, 2011) believe that there are several linguist ic and notably psychological factors that affect a non-native English speaker's pronunciation in ways that are not so true about grammer or vocabulary. According to Celce-Murcia et al (1996, quoted in Nikbakht, 2011), some learners are relatively weak in phonemic coding ability : the capacity to discriminate and code foreign sounds. To Kocic (2010) among individual differences in language learners aptitude sounds to be the most controversial and the most disputed one among linguists. …

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