Students’ Perspectives toward the Learning of English Phonetics and Phonology and its Application in English for Communication Development

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Unaree Taladngoen

Abstract

This research attempted to investigate 1) the students’ expectations toward the learning of English phonetics and phonology, 2) their perspectives toward the lesson difficulty, and 3) their self-evaluation toward the improvement of their verbal communication ability. The participants were 141 English-for-International-Communication (EIC) students at the Faculty of Business Administration and Liberal Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Phitsanulok, Tak, Lampang, Nan, and Chiangmai campuses. All of the participants already finished the BOAEC 104 Essential English Phonetics and Phonology for Communication course. The convenient sampling technique intended for participant selection. A researcher-developed questionnaire with an overall Index of Item-Objective Congruence (IOC) value of 0.66 intended to collect quantitative data, and a semi-structured interview with an overall IOC value of 0.84 aimed at gathering qualitative data. The quantitative data were statistically analyzed to find the mean score, percentage, and standard deviation. Content analysis was also available for qualitative data explanations. The results of the study revealed that, on average, the participants had a high expectation (=4.37) in learning English phonetics and phonology. They especially expected the learning to benefit their future lives and increase their confidence in speaking. Considering the lesson difficulty, the participants concurred that, on average, the lessons were difficult (=3.67). However, when the participants were followed up with an interview question, they commented that the lessons were difficult but challenging. Regarding the participants’ self-evaluation, after the completion of the course, the participants reported a high improvement (=3.87) in their verbal communication ability. Clear pronunciation and the ability to use correct stress placement and intonation enhanced their verbal communication ability. The participants also reported the application of learned knowledge in other subjects, such as Public Speaking, Oral Presentation, and Listening-Speaking. Concerning the results of the research, suggested topics in essential English phonetics and phonology have been proposed to promote ELF students’ verbal communication ability. Furthermore, lecturers in English should occupy the specified knowledge of English phonetics and phonology to be able to provide additional help and support to students.

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