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Appears in:
Pages: 3209-3219
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain

ETHIOPIAN LEARNERS PERCEPTUAL DIFFICULTIES IN ENGLISH SEGMENTAL PHONEMES

A. Gashaw

Wollo University (ETHIOPIA)
TThe study investigated Amharic native speaking Ethiopian learner’s detection and recognition of English phonemic items which are foreign to the learners and yet that are used distinctively and functionally in the target language input. Novel English vowels and consonants tentatively predicted as contrastive based problem areas of English pronunciation for the Amharic speaking learners were targeted. The resultant list of English phonemes the study targeted comprised short vowels /æ, ʌ, ə, ɒ/; long vowels /i:, a:, ɔ:, u:, ɜ:/; diphthongs /eɪ, aɪ, ɔɪ, aʊ, əʊ, ɪa, eə, ʊə/; and consonants /, ð/. Sixty Amharic native speaking undergraduate students participated in this study by completing forced auditory tasks after listening to audio stimuli presenting utterances with targets sound features. Each response provided by the subjects for each audio stimulus was first coded for correctness relative to the particular target sound item presented. To assess the extent of perception errors the subjects committed, and to obtain the final inventory of difficulty areas, the total incorrect score each sound item received was changed to percentage scores based on the total number of 60 responses from the subjects. Similarly, mean percentage error score each target received was computed and analyzed relative to scores for individual target features included in the test. The result showed that overall, English pronunciation features which are foreign to the native language Amharic still exert severe difficulty for university level Amharic native subjects to discriminate, identify, and recognize. The findings also considered communication constraints that could be stemming from the learners’ difficulty to distinguish novel English phonemes, and to make meaning out of them in spoken English. This was evident in the learners’ considerable failure to recognize the most familiar words in English which were presented with novel segmental phonemes. Some variations of difficulty level the subjects experienced towards contrastive based problem areas were verified. Findings of this study support the focus on the role of English pronunciation which are foreign to the learners’ native language, the importance of balancing perceptual as well as productive skills, and the need for developing L1-based and empirically informed pronunciation syllabus than using generic and intuitively produced pronunciation training materials. The findings provide issues that future research should further explore and extend to a number of other dimensions.
@InProceedings{GASHAW2013ETH,
author = {Gashaw, A.},
title = {ETHIOPIAN LEARNERS PERCEPTUAL DIFFICULTIES IN ENGLISH SEGMENTAL PHONEMES},
series = {7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2013 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-2661-8},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {4-5 March, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {3209-3219}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Gashaw
TI - ETHIOPIAN LEARNERS PERCEPTUAL DIFFICULTIES IN ENGLISH SEGMENTAL PHONEMES
SN - 978-84-616-2661-8/2340-1079
PY - 2013
Y1 - 4-5 March, 2013
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2013 Proceedings
SP - 3209
EP - 3219
ER -
A. Gashaw (2013) ETHIOPIAN LEARNERS PERCEPTUAL DIFFICULTIES IN ENGLISH SEGMENTAL PHONEMES, INTED2013 Proceedings, pp. 3209-3219.
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