The methodology of this research comprised of two phases. The first phase involved interviewing specialists and conducting research to determine 20 key words that would be written into the program. Then the second phase involved testing ESL students with the program itself and analyzing the English pronunciation of the students. The study group consisted of 60 Thai students from the Business English major at Phetchabun Rajabhat University. While there has been little to no studies which utilized this methodology to determine students’ knowledge with regard to English final sound pronunciations there was several studies found which support the results found in this investigation thus supporting the conclusion made in regard to possible factors affecting the Thai students’ English pronunciation competence. The research results were recorded taking into account the gender and the year in which the students were studying. The year of study was identified to be the most significant factor contributing to the participants’ test results. ·
The results showed that 2nd year students had the most correct English pronunciation. It was noted that this was most likely due to the fact that they were studying a phonetics class during the course of the experiment when compared to the 3rd year samples that had attended the English Phonetics classes the year before and the 1st year students who had not yet studied English phonetics. Overall the students had a major English pronunciation problem when it came to final sounds with /z/ and /d/. The students seemed not aware of these phonological rules in English while doing Detect Me English words test. The study also aligned with many other studies which proved that female students tend to be more advanced in learning languages than males (Brown, 2000; Eckert, 2003 ; Pavlenko, 2001). In this study the female students ability at correct pronunciation had a mean average better than the male students. This indicates that gender difference is a contributing factor for L2 proficiency and correct pronunciation. Upon reflection of this study, the researcher would like to expand this research through the following proposal. Proposal for improving and building the study; • Improve the study by testing different specific, categorized groups of students. Distinguish between GPA score abilities to further study and factor in differences between students personal skill levels. This will further conclude the effectiveness of the program. • Record and study the progression of the students between the 3 attempts as well as pre-testing the students before the use of the program to factor in and scrutinize the efficacy of the program. • To add in a control group to help further compare the efficacy of the program further and analyze its results. The test environment needs to be specifically maintained to insure it is the same for each student. Finally, the tests should have a structured time constraints when it comes to the time the students are given to use the program. This will create a more fair and non-biased test. This program is showing promising results in helping instructors to see the lack of awareness of correct English pronunciation especially in the area of the final sounds of “- ed” and “-s”. Corder conducted extensive research into the positive effect of language transfer however in his research he also commented that “The greater the degree of difference/distance, the larger the learning task, or to put it another way, the longer the learning path to be traversed between L1 and L2.” (Corder 1979) It is apparent in this study that because of the effect of language transfer and the extreme differences between the Thai and English language in regards to final stop constants the students achieved poor results. It follows that the Thai students in the Business English Major at Phetchabun Rajabhat University, need to develop a greater awareness of the differences between L1 and L2 in order to achieve correct English pronunciation. Simple adjustments to can be made to English lessons firstly by informing professors of the importance pronunciation awareness is when teaching English. Curriculum’s can be adjusted to support the constant reinforcement of the phonetic rules and students encouraged by teachers to download the ‘Detect me English’ application on their smart phones so they can practice their pronunciation in their own time. Finally adopting learning strategies that involve listening to native English speakers will automatically make students more aware of correct pronunciation.
In conclusion this study showed that overall the female students had better pronunciation than the male students. This indicates that gender difference is a contributing factor for L2 proficiency when it comes to correct pronunciation. This result is supported in other studies that show females seem to be more proficient at learning languages than males. The 2nd year samples that had been attending English Phonetics classes during the course of the study had a greater grasp of the correct method to achieve correct English pronunciation and thus had a great awareness of correct English pronunciation. This emphasizes the importance of adjusting the current practices used in teaching English to insure students become aware of the correct pronunciation of English. Expectantly, this research can be even further developed to build up Thai students’ ability in regards to correct English pronunciation of English final consonants, in turn further improving the students’ overall pronunciation, their confidence and language fluency.