|Essay type:||Process essays|
|Categories:||Learning Languages Language development|
Pronunciation is one of the language skills that language learners should possess. The right pronunciation helps in making communication possible. In a study by Ababneh (2018), students claimed that pronunciation is one of the main challenges that they experience when learning English. Notably, articulation is not a linguistic issue since factors such as age, attitude, and the influence of a learner’s first language could affect it (Barros, 2003). Teachers should understand factors hindering effective pronunciation among learners to allow for effective language acquisition. Primarily, this research project focuses on the improvement of pronunciation of the consonant ‘P’ among Saudi students learning English as their second language and the influence of external factors on effective language acquisition. The study topic is essential since it allows English teachers to familiarise themselves with techniques of boosting pronunciation by mitigating external factors. The next sections of the proposal will comprise a literature review, which analyses the existing literature on pronunciation improvement, followed by a clear research question and an outline of the methods that will be employed to deduce the results.
Arabic is the principal language of communication in Saudi Arabia. The dialect is used in almost all life aspects ranging from markets to streets and parks. The language has twenty-eight consonants and comprises of three pairs of both long and short-vowel phonemes (Ababneh, 2018). Most of the Arabic speakers pronounce words in the same way they are written since each phoneme represents an individual letter, which is not the case in English. A study by Ashour (2017) revealed the main differences between Arabic and English language. From the author’s perspective, the first language could affect effective English language acquisition. Importantly, languages have various features that differentiate them from each other. In addition to that, each dialect consists of a linguistic system that has its morphology, grammar, semantic, phonetics, syntax, and phonology, which differs from another (Ashour, 2017). One of the primary differences between Arabic and English languages is pronunciation. According to Ashour (2017), although Arabic is a language that have several consonants, English employs a variety of consonant bands in the formation of words. The heavy use of these clusters could influence the pronunciation of consonants among English second language learners from the Arabic descent. Similarly, Hamad Alzinaidi and Abdel (2019) conducted a study to identify the common pronunciation problems facing English second language learners in Saudi Arabia. The results showed that most Saudi English learners make errors in pronouncing words with the following consonants: //, /n/, /p/, //, and /tesh/; /t/ and /d/ (Hamad Alzinaidi & Abdel, 2019). From these results, Hamad Alzinaidi and Abdel (2019) concluded that the presence of more consonants in English words causes more pronunciation challenges, which concurs with the findings by Ashour (2017).
Another significant difference between Arabic and English language is the vowel sounds. Ali (2013) asserted that second language learners of the English dialect should be aware that the short and long vowels in English are not as short or as long as their first language. Besides, Ali (2013) argued that the neurological development of the human brain due to the maturation of speech muscles during puberty exerts a significant influence on incorrect pronunciation. Similarly, Barros (2003) analysed the brain plasticity theory and claimed that younger children found it easier to learn a language due to the receptions from the brains. The theory argues that the minds of the younger children have functional differences when compared to that of the adults. Language receptivity is related to the plasticity of the brain. From this perspective, the increase in age specialises in the organisation of the cortex hence lateralising the first language in the left-brain hemisphere, which, in turn, makes second language acquisition daunting (Barros, 2003). The speech organs, after puberty, become more specialised for the production of first language words. The prototypes interfere with the second language learners’ perception of the dialect hence acting as a magnet that pulls the second language vowels towards the first language prototypes (Ali, 2013). Therefore, this leads to speech production problems, including pronunciation. The study by Ali (2013) proposed the need for phonological awareness among English second language learners for speech development. The results showed that students exposed to knowledge on pronunciation would likely pronounce English words better than those who have no language experience (Ali, 2013).
Consequently, the study by Hassan (2001) stipulated that personality is critical in language learning since it influences how people learn and the content learned. The standard variables studied are extroversion and introversion. According to Hassan (2001, the distinguishing factors between extraverts and introverts are biologically rooted in the brain system that scrutinises the neural stimulus resulting from environmental triggers. Introverts have a high level of cortical arousal compared to the extraverts, which contributes to the differences in behaviour and attitude preferences (Hassan, 2001). The two personality traits have a role in influencing the acquisition of a second language among learners. Extraverted learners gain energy to study and focus on the events in the environment (Hassan, 2001). They often engage in English-conversations outside the classroom, role-plays, and different other interactive plays.
In contrast, introverted learners are motivated by their inner feelings and ideas. A positive relationship exists between extraversion and second language learning acquisition. Hassan’s (2001) study revealed that extraverts were likely to perform better in the final English exam. Still, they also tend to have pronunciation issues regardless of their improved understanding of the second language. The conclusion derived from the study analysed is that personality and, in particular, extraversion, influences fast acquisition of English as a second language. However, it does not help in solving the pronunciation challenges frequently experiences among Arabic speakers.
Pronunciation and spelling are interrelated. Common pronunciation challenges affect the spelling capabilities of English second language learners. According to Altamimi and Rashid (2019), writing is a critical method that enables people to express their feelings and thoughts. Writing transfers sounds that one hears to words that can be seen and read. Literacy entails not only essential reading and writing but also correct spelling and pronunciation. The study results, in the research by Altamimi and Rashid (2019) on the influence of language pronunciation on spelling, showed that most of the student participants made spelling errors that were related to prefixes, reduplication of letters, omissions, additions, abbreviations, and order errors, to mention a few. More so, the participants claimed that the mistakes resulted from the influence of their first language.
Similarly, in another study by Altamimi and Rashid (2019), one student participant argued that the primary language’s impact is profound, such that students lack interest in learning the second language. The loss of interest emanates from the various challenges frequently experienced when studying the new language. One participant, for instance, claimed that the lack of attention prevents students from reading, writing, and memorizing a language dialect, which, in turn, leads to spelling mistakes (Altamimi &Rashid, 2019). Notably, effectively studying the English language requires memorization and enhanced practice on a day-to-day basis. In effect, this allows students to correct their mistakes. The literature analysed in this paragraph reveals that lack of motivation due to the worrying influence of the first language hinders effective English language acquisition among learners.
Mohamed (2018) proposed the use of audiobooks to enhance listening among Saudi English learners. The author argued that listening is a critical component of strengthening language development (Mohamed, 2018). Audiobooks help learners to learn more about pronunciation. According to Mohamed (2018), the books allow learners to increase active listening and develop reading and writing techniques. In the study, Mohamed (2018) used a quasi-experiment research consisting of an experiment and control group to analyse the influence of audiobooks on language development. The study showed that audiobooks substantially influenced listening among the experiment group (Mohamed, 2018). The books gave the learners the chance to listen, read, and interact with the text. The features of audiobooks included characterization, tone, setting, and theme and had a role in influencing positive perceptions of a language hence influencing second language acquisition.
Further, Al-Tamimi and Attamimi (2018) study sought to determine the effect of clear pronunciation on the development of English-speaking competency among learners. Explicit training entails clear instructions that teachers employ to enable students to understand whatever they learn. The training aims to allow students to feel that they are responsible for their learning. With the continued use of specific training, the learning responsibility shifts from teacher to learners with time (Altamimi & Rashid, 2019). The study results showed that the training programme given to students is essential in enabling them to use the guidelines and rules when pronouncing English words (Altamimi and Rashid, 2019). Thus, this allows for effective pronunciation. The speaking skills of the students are dependent on pronunciation mastery. Importantly, students who were involved in the study were unable to pronounce the words correctly since they were not familiar with the pronunciation rules. After enrolling in the programme, their skills dramatically improved hence fostering effective pronunciation.
Lastly, the study by Aljojo et al. (2019) focused on enhancing listening and pronunciation while teaching Arabic letters with sounds to children. The same process described in the article could apply when teaching the English language. The process entails providing learners with simple words for each letter. The technique will assist students in learning quickly and easily. The aim of this process is that it aids in the identification of the areas that require potential improvements hence leading to the formulation of strategies targeting specific skills for learners (Aljojo et al., 2019). The main objective of the process is that it provides the second language learners with the reading, listening, and speaking skills by improving a learner’s ability to listen to vowels of a letter and pronounce them effectively. Therefore, this improves their ability to focus and utilise their senses in matters concerning pronunciation and listening.
- Primarily, this paper seeks to answer the following study questions:
- What are some of the pronunciation challenges affecting the effective pronunciation of the letter ‘P’ among Saudi English second language learners?
- What are the external factors hindering effective pronunciation among Saudi second English language learners?
- How can an English second language teacher improve pronunciation?
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