Reasons Why Level 400 Students of the English Programme at the University of Buea are Poor in English Pronunciation
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The purpose of this study is to find out the reasons why level 400 students of the English Programme at the University of Buea are Poor in English Pronunciation. Data was collected through questionnaires, interview and observation and presented in simple tables that were then analyzed.
Findings proved that mother tongue and pidgin affects students spoken English. Recommendations were made such as the fact that, when teaching pronunciation courses in the future, more attention should be a focus to the male sex so as to ensure that both sexes are on a balanced scale.
Background to the study
This study seeks to find out reasons why students are poor in English pronunciation, a case of level 400 students in the English Programme at the University of Buea. Cameroonians students are faced with difficulty pronouncing English sounds the way they are supposed to be pronounced according to British standard English (RP).
Pronunciation is an essential component of communicative competence. This study shall be focused on two main pronunciation instruction approaches, one base on phonemes of English language (segmental features) and the second focusing on features such as stress, intonation and rhythm (supra-segment features).
Segmental features include consonants and vowel sounds. Teaming the pronunciation of English docs not mean learning how to pronounce the individual vowel and consonant instead, learning should include suprasegmental features because of their impact on speech.
The majority of students believe that the most helpful and useful area of pronunciation work is training in segmental rather than supra-segmental because the segmental aspect of pronunciation help them improve their pronunciation patterns.
Pronunciation was almost irrelevant in the past and was seldom taught but recently, pronunciation has taken a centre-stage with emphases laid on the drilling of sounds and word pairs, and the articulation of individual sounds. Students pronounce poorly because of the failure in recognizing the need to focus on rhythm and intonation, the construction of useful sentences or the practice of realistic conversations.
Students today struggle with pronunciation even though they were taught pronunciation lessons from primary to secondary where the English language was made a compulsory subject at the G.C.H Ordinary Level. At the University level, pronunciation courses are taught and made an integral part of the oral communication class.
Despite the fact that students were taught pronunciation courses like phonetics, phonology and even LNG102, they still seem not to be serious in the improvement of their English pronunciation skills especially in the case of level 400 students in the English Programme at the University of Buea.
Some students are poor in English pronunciation either because they do not bother about the procedure involves in developing pronunciation skills.
Yet others feel that they do not have the natural ability to develop pronunciation skills. While others depend on their teachers to teach them about the placement of the mouth which most teachers do not have this knowledge and therefore tend to pass it off as being not important.
In this respect, Otlowski (1998) argues that ESL students can expect to master the pronunciation of English if pronunciation lessons are made an integral part of the oral communication class. This will focus on segmental features of pronunciation.
Statement of the Problem
Considering the fact that English is a global language, and it is taught in Cameroonian education, students are expected to speak good English, but speakers of Cameroon English are considered to have poor pronunciation when compared to its Received Pronunciation (RP).
This poor pronunciation hinders fluent communication and the inability to decoding the correct message that such sounds of pronunciation present. Some other writers have proved that spoken English is difficult for students. Fraser (2000) reported that many learners of English as a second language have major difficulties with pronunciation.
This is why this study is investigating the reasons why the level 400 students of the English Programme are poor in English Pronunciation, despite the fact that they were taught some pronunciation courses like phonology phonetics and KNG 102 in the first and second years of the University.
Objectives of the Study
This study has the following objectives:
To identify sounds that students face difficulties while pronouncing
To look for reasons why students are poor in English Pronunciation y To identified some pronunciation learning methods in and out of classroom setting
To create awareness to teachers and students on the importance of English pronunciation skills
To propose better alternative ways to help students improve English pronunciation skills
Bring about a change and make a contribution to the existing stock of knowledge since every research must aim at making a change
This work has the following research questions
- What are the problems encountered by students in English pronunciation classrooms?
- What are the reasons why students pronounce poorly?
- Are they any significant difference in the improvement of students with good and poor pronunciation after attending pronunciation classes?
- Which of the sound segments do students face difficulties when learning pronunciation?
- What other better alternatives have been employ to help students improve in English Pronunciation?