The ability of many Thai ESL students to use English for communication is still not at a level to be considered proficient. This is evident, as a majority of Thai ESL students do not have the ability to communicate in English with native speakers well. According to the Office of the Education Council only 10% of Thai people are able to speak English proficiently. Out of the four main skills fluency in speaking is one of the most difficult skills for students to develop. When learning English there are many reasons that student may confused or lose motivation to continue until they can become adept in English speaking. The whole gist of a conversation can be lost due simply to incorrect pronunciation of key words. Henceforth if students do not know how to pronounce English sounds properly this inevitably results in the lack of intelligible conversation. If Thai students continue to be unaware of correct pronunciation methods and techniques, English fluency is not likely to improve; however it could result in a regression in Thai students ability to reach English fluency. The study uses a sample group of students studying in Business English from Phetchabun Rajabhat University and investigates, the students’ pronunciation of 20 key words through the “Detect Me English” application.· The sample group included a total of 60 students. Students were told to read each word once in order to deduce the student’s awareness of phonological. Percentages were then made from summaries of the scores students achieved for each word. The hypothesis motivating the study is that the language transfer from the student’s native language (L1 – Thai) to the secondary language (L2 – English), may be a contributing factor to the difficulties expressed in pronunciation. The main focus of this research being the important English stop consonants which when pronounced incorrectly created an overall difficultly in correct and fluent English pronunciation. The results of the study found that 2nd year students, who had been studying an English for phonetics course, had better pronunciation than the 1st and 3rd year students. The fact that the 2nd year students had a greater awareness of correct English pronunciation is most likely linked to the recent exposure to phonetics in their university curriculum. II. LITERATURE REVIEW A. Language Transfer When learning a second language (L2) the learner’s native language (L1) impacts the learners’ ability to pronounce the different sounds necessary in L2. Language Transfer has been recognized as “a major factor in second language acquisition” (Ellis, 1990). The influence the learner’s L1 has on the way they articulate and pronounce different words in L2 very apparent. This can be fully recognized when looking into the origins of different people who are speaking in L2, more often than not the way they speak will reveal the origin of the L1 to a trained or even untrained ear. According to Brown (2000), one of the factors that cause difficulties in insuring clear pronunciation is the difference between the phonology of their L1 and that of the second L2. In this research this pertains to the difference between the phonology of the Thai language when compared to English. One aspect of the English language that is difficult for many ESL students is to master is the pronunciation of final sounds for example “- ed” and “- s”. Brown proposes that within Language transfer there is six factors that may hinder or facilitate learner’s pronunciation of L2 which are: L1, age, exposure to L2, innate phonetic ability, identity and language ego for L1, motivation, and finally the concern for good pronunciation ability. It is also believed that behaviorism is a underlying reason why learners tend to transfer their old habits from L1 into the new habits in their L2 (Ellis, 1987). Teachers and learners of L2 need to become aware of these factors and take them into account. B. Interlanguage According to Ellis (1987) there are three essential characteristics of interlanguage. This learners’ language is ‘permeable.’ The rules in interlanguage are not fixed.’ It constantly changes as learners usually revise their individual rules to accommodate with those of the target language. The language is also considered to be ‘dynamic. Finally, interlanguage is ‘systematic.’ Learners produce the language in ways that are predictable because they base their performances on the interlanguage rules they create. So the characters that the learners’ language depends on are rules that the learners create. Some of their interlanguage may be overgeneralized and used in an inappropriate pronunciation, while others may be under-generalized and do not appear when they are required. In this study, the following pronunciations are gathered from the subjects’, as a speaking task data of students’ comprised in interlanguage. C. The awareness of correct English pronunciation Awareness of correct English pronunciation is extremely important for learners of L2. According to Dörnyei (2001) Learners need to have an awareness of phonological rules in the language they are studying. Dörnyei states, “This will help them achieve success in their second language pronunciation.” It is important that learners become aware of the similarities and differences between the two languages. If they do not learners run the risk of making the habits formed when speaking in the L1 merge in with L2. According to Ellis the similarities in L1 pronunciation would facilitate the learning of L2. Adversely, the differences between L1 and L2 can in turn interfere with L2 acquisition. According to Ellis L2 learners will rely on the knowledge of L1 and their prior experience in the language to deal with problems they face when learning L2. Unfortunately this means that L1 transfer becomes inevitable in L2 learning (Ellis, 1987), however, if students can become aware of the correct way to pronounce words the effect will be less noticeable and learners of L2 will be more apt to converse fluently. According to Selinker (1972), Fossilization is a characteristic of inter-language. It affects the ability of the learner to achieve correct English Pronunciation. Fossilization is defined as the relatively permanent incorporation of incorrect linguistic forms and taking it into the L2. Fossilization will cause L2 learners to stop short of target-like competence for some linguistic domain (e.g. pronunciation). So, if the L1 does not have a sound found in L2 it is difficult for the speaker to pronounce because of learnt practices that have become apart of the way the speaker communicates. It has become apparent that specific Language structures are especially difficult for L2 learners to acquire, even when there is considerable input. D. English final consonant vs. Thai final consonant system. Upon analysis of the English and Thai Language there is considerable difference when it comes to the final consonant systems. In English there is a total of twenty- two final consonants; six stop consonants, two affricate consonants, three nasal consonants, eight fricative consonants, and three approximant consonants (Gimson, 1962). The Thai language on the other hand, has only nine final consonants; four stop consonants, three nasal and two approximant consonants (Nahasakul, 1998).
Correct Business English Pronunciation
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