The Use of English Stress Patterns by Four Hundred Level Students of the English Department in the University of Buea
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The use of English Stress patterns has been a great difficulty among second language learners and has caused a lot of differences in the pronunciation between learners of the English language and native speakers. This research is out to present the different ways English language learners in the English Department of the University of Buea, South West Region, make use of stress patterns and also come up with solutions to reduce this gap. Based on how this research was carried out, this is presented in five chapters. The first is the introductory paragraph that carries the background and the objectives. Chapter two looks at the literature review, chapter three the methodology, chapter four shows the presentation of data carried out and chapter five brings out problems faced in the research process, suggestions for further reading, and the conclusion.
The use of stress patterns has been a big problem for second language learners all around the world and Cameroon in particular. This problem has stemmed up from the fact that many English language learners around the world have different first languages or mother tongue with different elements of their own not found in the English language. These elements include things like stress, syllables, prosody, and intonation. As a result of this, many have tended to infiltrate the suprasegmentals of their home languages into the English language which in turn gives the English language a different coloring and has also brought about the emergence of new Englishes around the globe. In view of all these, the objective of this study is to find out the reasons for the wrong use of English stress and to create awareness to students on the influence their native languages or first language have on the English language.
Background to the Study
Before the arrival of the European nations in the early 19th century, Cameroonians had their own home languages which they learned from their forefathers. According to a Cameroon Web, Cameroon is home to 230 languages. These include 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, two Nilo- Saharan languages, 4 Ubangian languages, and 169 Niger-Congo languages. This latter group is divided into one Senegambian language (Fulfulde), 28 Adamawa languages, and 142 Benue- Congo languages (130 of which are Bantu languages). These languages that sum up languages in Cameroon all have distinct characteristics from which we can tell from the speakers’ accents where each of them comes from. The arrival of the British who were very adventurous in character into Cameroon led to the introduction of their language; the English language, brought about some changes in Received Pronunciation [RP] as the people of Cameroon after the colonial era made use of the pronunciation features of their native languages in the place of JJ. In the past years, Cameroon English has not only faced opposition from the many home languages that exist in the territory but have also faced great opposition from its co-official language: French. Speakers of the French language in Cameroon have a distinct way of speaking English which has created a new variety of the English language in Cameroon. From the time the English language was introduced in Cameroon to date, it has faced a lot of difficulties in its lexicon, phonology, and even semantics. In this study, our main focus will be on the phonology of the English language in Cameroon seen through stress, how English stress is used and reasons for differences as compared to RP.
Statement of the Problem
Today, there exist in the world different ways in the use of English stress patterns which has brought about words spelled the same but pronounced differently and has resulted in world Englishes. Despite the original pronunciation that was brought to the British and American colonies, there have still been some differences that have brought about a great debate whether these Englishes should be considered as standard or not.
Also, this language has been used in schools as a medium of instruction, and learning to pronounce in a new language has been a complex task for second language learners [L2] and if the learning process is not facilitated by creating awareness to learners of what it is all about, then it will be difficult for them to learn it by themselves and errors will be inevitable.
The environment has also been of great influence on the use of stress patterns used by L2 speakers in Cameroon due to its multilingual setting where the language used at home, school, or in the neighborhoods are different and all have different rules of pronunciations which are not easy to master all at once without interference.
Despite the fact that learners have been struggling with such issues, it will be difficult for them to have a perfect grasp of RP, firstly because of the interference of the first language and secondly because there are no native British instructors to bridge the gap.
Objectives of the Study
To find out if 400 level students of the English Department can easily identify English stress patterns.
To know the reasons for students’ inability or difficulty in identifying English stress patterns. Specific Objectives
To assess the influence the mother tongue of language learners have over their spoken English
To investigate the obstacles impeding the proper use of English stress patterns by L2 speakers.
To make recommendations based on findings on how to solve such an issue.