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Investigating Pronunciation Difficulties among English Second Language Learners: The Case of 200 Level Students of the Faculty of Arts, University of Buea.

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Descriptive statistics
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The aim of this study was to find out those pronunciation difficulties among English Second Language learners (200 Level students) of the Faculty of Arts, University of Buea.

To achieve this, data were collected through a test administered to 30 students (200 Level) in the Faculty Arts, University of Buea. Data were analyzed using tables and percentages.

Hence, the results of the investigation revealed that students have difficulties in pronunciation because they have never taken a course in pronunciation and secondly because of the negative influence of Pidgin English.

This study recommends that the teaching and learning of pronunciation be revisited, enforced, and uphold in all language backgrounds as it is squarely indispensable to the English Language as a whole. 



Background to the study

English is a West Germanic language that originated from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain in the mid-5th to 7th centuries AD by Anglo-Saxon settlers from what is now northwest Germany, West Denmark, and the Netherlands, displacing the Celtic languages that previously predominated.

The Old English of the Anglo-Saxon era developed into Middle English, which was spoken from the Norman Conquest era to the late 15th century.

A significant influence of the shaping of Middle English came from contact with the North Germanic languages spoken by the Scandinavians who conquered and colonized parts of Britain during the 81,1 and 9th centuries; this contact led to much lexical borrowing and grammatical simplification.

Another important influence came from the conquering of the Noimans who spoke a Romance langue d’oil called Old Norman, which in Britain developed into Anglo-Norman. Many Norman and French loanwords entered the language in this period, especially in vocabulary related to the church, the court system, and the government, the system of orthography that became established during the Middle English period is by and large still in use today-later changes in pronunciation, however, combined with the adoption of various spelling of modem English words appears highly irregular.

In the 1880s, there was a sudden change when researchers started seeing English as a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England with its enriching modifications which could be seen through the introduction of the Great Vowel Shift in the 15th century which affected the stress long vowels of Middle English.

In the language learning process, speeches, as well as writing, are important. The child leams to speak before he is capable of writing down something that he understands. Language is first spoken by people who use it to communicate with each other by word of mouth in which they talk and listen to themselves before they are able to write.

Pronunciation is a very significant concept of English grammar that cannot be neglected because the wrong pronunciation of words in a sentence (while speaking) may distort or (partially) alter the sense of the sentence. Thus, pronunciation is a phenomenon that has been termed a key to spoken English. It is a linguistic feature that functions in rhythm and intonation in the English language.

It has been observed that people in general and 200 level students of the Faculty of Arts, University of Buea pronounces English words wrongly. Thus, Gillian Brown (1984), Pays particular attention to the difficulties encountered by non-native speakers of English. People find it difficult to disassociate knowledge of how a word is spelt from how it is pronounced. Thus, it is a problem to spoken English.

Similar to this view, J.Ball et al (1989) write that phoneticians have been successful in developing instruments that directly or indirectly measure many aspects of speech other than the articulation of individual sounds. The measurement of the movement of the articulators within the oral cavity has however proved to be especially difficult. Certain places of the articulation for example the bilabial, labio-dental, and interdental can be seen by an observer.

Although experts have been made in this direction, the situation has not changed much. It is hoped therefore that this study will help learners of English to know how to pronounce English words correctly.

Statement of the problem

Contemporary learners of English find themselves wanting with regard to the pronunciation of English words. This is realized from their speeches during pronunciation sessions as well as writing. This is alarming to the extent that it seems as if stress can be placed at any point be it on a word or in a sentence.

Thus, is almost becoming a culture in which, some students do not even know how to pronounce English words. As a result of this, listeners sometimes fail to understand the message the way the speaker intended it to be.

Aim of the study

The purpose of this study is to find out those pronunciation difficulties among English Second Language students (200 Level students) of the University of Buea Faculty of Aits.

Objectives of the study

The main objectives of this study are:

  • To find out the pronunciation difficulties among 200 Level students of the Faculty of Arts
  • To find out the difficulties 200 Level students have in pronouncing English words.
  • To investigate the impact of pronunciation on the meaning of words.

Research Questions

This work is based on the following research questions:

  • What are the difficulties 200 Level students have in pronouncing the English language?
  • What is the impact of the poor pronunciation of words on 200 Level students?

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