PRONUNCIATION OF WEAK FORMS BY THE NON-NATIVE LEARNERS OF ENGLISH

H. Vancova

Trnava University (SLOVAKIA)
English in its spoken form is a rhythmical sequence comprising an alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables; in longer utterances, weak forms enable this rhythmicity. Non-native learners of English often pronounce weak forms in their strong form, failing to form this rhythmical pattern. Since English learners may perceive the orthography and pronunciation of English words as separate issues, they may understand the grammatical function of weak forms in spoken texts, but produce full sounds in their speech. The paper aims to present the results of an investigation into the pronunciation of weak forms by non-native learners of English. The study participants were asked to perform two tasks: (1) reading a text with reduced vowels in weak forms indicated, and (2) imitating spoken utterances with the pronunciation of weak forms. The collected data reveal that the study participants achieved better results in the imitation task supported by an acoustic prompt than the reading task. The most challenging group of weak forms appeared to be prepositions, as this group of words was pronounced consistently in their strong form (>90%). The paper also presents the strategies of weak form pronunciation practice and highlights the benefits of the use of technology in pronunciation training of the foreign learners of English.

Acknowledgements:
The paper was supported by the Rector’s grant scheme for research projects (Trnava University in Trnava, no. 6/TU/2019 Suprasegmental features in the English language).