The effects of explicit pronunciation instruction on the comprehensibility and intelligibility of Tunisian EFL learners

Author/s:

Bouchhioua, Nadia*
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of La Manouba, Tunisia (bouchhioua_nadu@yahoo.fr)

Abstract:

Pronunciation instruction had often been neglected in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes because it was generally associated with the mechanical drills reminiscent of the Audiolingual method and because it was considered to be incompatible with Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Recent research has, however, shown that explicit pronunciation instruction is quite compatible with CLT and that it results in improving the learner’s comprehensibility and intelligibility. This study reports results of classroom-based experimental research on the effects of explicit pronunciation instruction on the learning of the segments and suprasegmental features of English by Tunisian EFL learners. It followed a pretest /posttest design. Two experimental groups (Groups 1 &2) received a special treatment in pronunciation using an eclectic approach. Group 1 was taught pronunciation with a focus on English segments, while with Group 2 the focus was rather on suprasegmental features. The performance of the two groups was compared to a control group (Group 3) that was taught the same content but following the traditional Audiolingual method. Native speakers of American English rated the comprehensibility of the participants and transcribed some of their utterances before and after the treatment. Results show that both the comprehensibility and the intelligibility of Tunisian EFL learners’ speech improved significantly. Group 2 which had more practice in suprasegmentals obtained, however, better results than Group 1 which had more practice on segments. Implications for pronunciation teaching and syllabus design are hence put forward.

Keywords: prosodic; prosody; suprasegmental features; segments; Arabic learners

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsll.2016.1480

*Corresponding Author