Date of Award

4-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Applied Linguistics (M.A.)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Dan Brown

Second Advisor

Dr. Colleen Brice

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Remlinger

Academic Year

2018/2019

Abstract

Listening has been a neglected skill in both second language research and teaching practice (Khaghaninejad & Maleki, 2015; Nowrouzi, Tam, Zareian & Nimehchisalem, 2015) and recent research has shown that second language (L2) listening difficulties might relate to phonological problems besides syntactic and lexical knowledge (e.g., Suristro, 2018). There have been some empirical studies examining the effects of phonetic instruction on perceptual skills showing promising results (e.g., Aliaga-Garcia & Mora, 2009; Linebaugh & Roche, 2013). This study contributes to this area with a focus on investigating the impacts of English pronunciation instruction on listening skills among Vietnamese English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners, targeting the four English phonemes: word-final stop consonants /t/-/d/, the lax high front vowel /ɪ/ and the tense high front vowel /i/. Particularly, it examines whether pronunciation instruction would have effects on (a) students’ abilities to listen to and distinguish target phonemes, and (b) students’ abilities to listen to and dictate monosyllabic words containing the target sounds. To examine the effects of mere explicit pronunciation instruction on perception, the study excluded perceptual training from the treatment. Sixteen Vietnamese learners were recruited to join the study, divided into two groups: an experimental group (n=10) and a control group (n=6). Only the experimental group received a five-hour online phonetic instruction emphasizing the four English target phonemes and other distractors. A pre-test and a post-test in listening skills measured the difference between and within groups. In addition, a post-instructional survey was administered to collect qualitative data in an attempt to explain the study results. Non-parametric tests (Wilcoxon rank sum and Wilcoxon signed rank tests) were used to analyze the quantitative data. The study results revealed that there was no difference in listening performance between the two groups, and within each group, which might suggest unclear impact of pronunciation instruction on perceptual skills. Perceptual training, which has often been used in research on pronunciation instruction, is discussed and suggestions for future research are made.

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