| by admin | No comments

English Pronunciation Errors among Saudi Learners

EnglishPronunciation Errors among Saudi Learners


Englishpronunciation error among Saudi learner



Saudistudents undertaking English as a second language face variousproblems in almost every aspect of their learning such as writing,reading, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary (Kassem 2013). Inmajority of the learning time, pronunciation is accorded less timethan the other components of learning English (Ahmad 2011). As aresult, many learners are left with faulty pronunciation skills,which become a major obstacle in their efforts to communicate.Previously, researches have been conducted touching on other aspectsof English language. Researchers have previously focused on EnglishPhonotactics and established that many learners had a problem withinitial consonant groups and final consonant groups with more thanthree members. The error problems reflected in the researches weresubstitution, reduction, and deletion of some of the consonants(Alrashidi 2014). The current research study focuses on pronunciationproblems of English words by post-High school students in theCanberra University and the English Language Institute in theuniversity. The data collected will aid the researcher in coming upwith suggestions, teaching strategies and recommendations that willhelp in reducing the future pronunciation problems of English words.

Basedon the above statement of research objectives and background of theproblem under study, the researcher set out to answer the followingresearch questions:

  1. What pronunciation problems do students in Canberra University and in the English Language Institute have while communicating?

  2. Is there an identifiable pattern to the pronunciation errors made by majority of the students in the institution?

  3. How would emphasis on the pronunciation errors during teaching help in reducing the problem?

Justificationof the research

Thisstudy will be important to the researcher, teachers and students inthe following ways:

  • The researcher will be able to identify main pronunciation problems encountered by students in their acquisition of English as their second language. As a result, the researcher will make a significant contribution in the effective learning and teaching of English among foreign students. This study is expected to have positive implications beyond the study sample and the researcher hopes it will be used to implement policy and curriculum changes in teaching of English to foreign students to ensure that they attain efficacy and eloquence in all aspects of the language.

  • To the teaching fraternity, the study will help them to come up with proper student management and teaching strategies that will ensure that foreign learners do not lag behind in acquiring excellent communication skills because of pronunciation errors. Hence, the study will be used as reference tool through which they will identify patterns in pronunciation errors that will form the initial points of emphasis during teaching and coaching.

  • For the study sample, the research will be able to establish their main pronunciation errors. As a result, they will be motivated to put more effort as well as seeking more coaching to improve on the areas of concern.

  • The study will also set a precedent for subsequent researches that are projected to be on a higher scale than the present one, to incorporate a multi-disciplinary approach among Saudis and students from other nationalities all over the world.


Themain aim of this study is to establish pronunciation problems amongEnglish learners in Canberra University while at the same timeidentifying their main errors.


Thesample population for this study consisted of seven students from theCanberra University and English Language Institute. The participantscomprised of three females and four males who were chosen from eachlevel of learning in the institution to ensure equitablerepresentation of the whole population.


Theresearcher utilised a qualitative method to describe and analyse thedata collected. The researcher randomly approached and selected sevenstudents individually and requested for their participation in thestudy. The students had to have been English students of non-nativeorigin but present in the institution for more than one year. Theresearcher revealed the aim of the study and guaranteed theconfidentiality of the study to the students to enhance their chancesof participation. Once they had granted their consent to beinterviewed, the participants were then involved in individual andindependent loud reading of some structured English words andsentences that reflected normal conversations. The choice of wordsand sentences incorporated vowel and consonant stressing parts thatare normal in mainstream conversations

Thereading took place in calm and private locations in the CanberraUniversity to ensure that the participants were confident andundisturbed in performing the reading exercises. Each student hadfifteen minutes to complete the set of questions and words.Administering the questions in this way reduced the chances of theparticipants monitoring themselves as they read as opposed to howthey would do it in a normal conversation. Hence, this method enabledthe researcher to collect data that are more accurate. Each exercisewas tape-recorded for later reference and analysis. After thisprocess, the researcher engaged the services of a native Englishspeaker and a Linguist within the English Language Institute toidentify the main pronunciation errors that the sample populationmade. The aim of using this method was to allow the researcher toincorporate problematic and normal words to gauge the extent oferring during pronunciation. This is better when compared to use ofnormal conversations through which the participants may have avoidedproblematic words.


Resultsfrom the data collected show that 90% of the participants experiencedpronunciation problems with regard to sound p, which was substitutedwith the sound b. Where there was sound b, all participantssubstituted the sound wit sound p while sound v and ch had reducedlevel of mispronunciation at 50% and 60% respectively. As such, itcan derived that all participants had a problem pronouncing sound bwith the least problematic sound being v. Sound p presented quite aproblem to the participants, with proficiency in pronouncing sound chfairing averagely at 60%. Different sounds posed different levels ofproblems and this was dependent on the sound that weighs heavily inthe participants’ mother tongue that also exists in the Englishlanguage.


Inthe modern world, the study of English has gone global due to itsinfluence as an international language. As a result, many studentswhom English is not their first language have enrolled in Englishclasses to attain the eloquence that is often identified with thelanguage. However, at the end of their English courses, not all ofthem are proficient in written and oral communication in English.There are numerous problems associated with in proficiency inEnglish, the most notable being pronunciation errors which are oftenpassed on to written tasks. Modern research has majorly focused oninvestigating pronunciation problems in the Arab region as a whole.However, the study on specific countries and the problems that theirstudents have when learning English is minimal. In addition, theexistent research on this area is based on students who study Englishin their native homes. As a result, researchers are unable to graspthe real situation of these learners, particularly Saudi Englishstudents. Different researchers have attributed various factors onEnglish pronunciation problem such as the influence of mother tongue,transfer from teachers, less concentration on pronunciation duringteaching and lack of enthusiasm from students to learn thepronunciations (Ahmad 2011, Alahmadi &amp Kesseiri 2013, Al-Khairy2013, Kassem 2013).

Theaim of this research study was to investigate the Englishpronunciation errors among Saudi learners in their second languageacquisition. The objectives of the investigation were to find out thecommon errors that the students make and establish a pattern in thecommission of the errors. The study took place at Canberra Universityamong students in the English Language Institute. It was important toundertake this study in order to find out the reason why manylearners of English as a second/foreign language are good in writtencommunication but fair badly in oral communication. The data and thefindings of the study would then be analysed in order to come up withplausible recommendations in efforts aimed at arresting this problemamong English learners. This study concentrated on English learnersin the English Language Institute of Canberra University.

Theresearcher adopted a qualitative research design, which enabled himto observe, interview and analyse the participants on the area ofconcern. In addition, the random sampling method adopted allowed theresearcher to choose the participants without bias while at the sametime adhering to the objectives of this study. An interviewcontaining English words and sentences was conducted in order tospecifically focus on pronunciation errors when the particularphrases were used. This allowed the researcher to gain a first-handaccount of the problems the participants had without avoidingproblematic words.

Thepreliminary findings drew a huge comparison among the participants onthe pronunciation errors they made during the loud-reading exercise.The researcher identified the consonants that were the subject ofelimination, substitution, or addition during pronunciation as shownin Appendix 1. These findings presented the researcher with aplatform to identify the main cause of the mispronunciations and wereinstrumental in understanding the scope, though limited, of Englishpronunciation problems among non-native English learners andspeakers.

Infuture, the researcher aims to undertake a large-scale version of thecurrent study to incorporate the students from other countries andmake comparisons depending on the subsequent findings on the problem.In the process of making this project a success, it was hard to comeby willing participants for my study, as it was also hard to identifythose in the English department. Most of the participants wereinitially hesitant to participate and it took a lot of convincing toget them to be a part of the study.



Thefollowing table gives an account of the mispronounced consonants



Problematic consonant

P (in all positions)

NG (final phrasal positioning)

B (In all phrasal positions)

V (start of word)

CH(at any position)

Phonetic representation





/ tʃ /

Phonetic misrepresentation





/ ʃ / or /s/

Percentage of mispronunciation







Ahmad,J. (2011). Pronunciation Problems among Saudi Learners: A Case Studyat the Preparatory Year Program, Najran University Saudi Arabia.LANGUAGEIN INDIA Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow,&nbsp11(-),22-36.

Ahmad,J., &ampNazim, M. (2013). Teachers’ Perspectives on Errors inEnglish Consonant Sounds by Saudi EFL Learners.&nbspAsianJournal of Humanities and Social Sciences (AJHSS),&nbsp1(3),150-163.

Alahmadi,N. S., &ampKesseiri, R. (2013). Language Transfer and GrammaticalSpeaking Errors among Saudi Students. .ArabWorld English Journal,&nbsp4(3),251-265.

Al-Khairy,M. H. (2013). English as a Foreign Language Learning DemotivationalFactors As Perceived By Saudi Undergraduates.&nbspEuropeanScientific Journal,&nbsp9(32),365-382.

Alrashidi,A. Y. (2014). E-learning in Saudi Arabia: A Review of the Literature.BritishJournal of Education, Society &amp Behavioural Science&nbsp,&nbsp4(5),656-672.

El-Saidat,E. M. (2010). Phonological Analysis of English Phonotactics: A CaseStudy of Arab Learners of English.&nbspTheBuckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics,&nbsp3(-),121-134.

Kassem,H. M. (2013). English as a Foreign Language Learning Beliefs andAttitudes of Saudi College English and Non-English Majors.&nbspArabWorld English Journal,&nbsp4(4),400-419.