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University of Northern Philippines

College of Teacher Education


Graduate School
Tamag, Vigan City

INTELLIGIBLE PRONUNCIATION FOR COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE

A Research Paper

In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements in Linguistics

Presented to:
Mr. Honorato Patubo
Professor

Presented by:
Geraldine Peralta

April 17, 2015

ABSTRACT

Pronunciation is an integral part of foreign language learning


since it directly affects learners' communicative competence as well as
performance. Limited pronunciation skills can decrease learners selfconfidence,

restrict

social

interactions,

and

negatively

affect

estimations of a speakers credibility and abilities. The current focus on


communicative approaches to ESL pronunciation learning and the
concern for building communication skills are renewing interest in the
role that pronunciation plays in ESL learners overall communicative
competence. The goals of this paper are to present the difference
between

perfect

importance

of

and

intelligible

intelligible

pronunciations,

pronunciation

specifically

explain
in

the

learners

communicative competence, as well as the factors affecting. The


review

of

literature

shows

that

with

careful

preparation

and

integration, intelligible pronunciation can play a significant role in


supporting the learners overall communicative skill.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title
Abstract
Table of Contents
Chapter I The Problem

i
ii
iii
1

Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Significance of the Study

Scope and Delimitation

Operational Definition of Terms

Chapter II Review of Related Literature

Theoretical Framework

Conceptual Framework

Chapter III Methodology

10

Research Design

10

Data Gathering Procedure

10

Subjects of the Study

11

Chapter IV Presentation, Interpretation and

12

Analysis of Data

15

Chapter V Summary of Findings, Conclusions


and Recommendations
References

18

Chapter I
THE PROBLEM
Introduction
As

English

increasingly

becomes

the

language

used

for

international communication, it is vital that speakers of English,


whether they are native or non-native speakers, are able to exchange
meaning effectively. In fact, in recent discussions of English-language
teaching, the unrealistic idea that learners should sound and speak like
native speakers is fast disappearing (Burns, 2003).
A generally accepted goal of pronunciation pedagogy is to help
learners achieve a comfortably intelligible pronunciation rather than a
native-like one.
One

of

the

primary

goals

of

teaching

pronunciation

is

intelligible pronunciation not perfect pronunciation. Intelligible


pronunciation

is

an

essential

component

of

communicative

competence (Morley, 1991). The attainment of perfect pronunciation


should no longer be the objective. Instead, Morley calls for setting
more realistic goals that are reasonable, applicable and suitable for the
communication needs of the learner. To her, the learner needs to
develop functional intelligibility (ability to make oneself relatively easily
understood),

functional

communicability

(ability

to

meet

the

communication needs one faces), increased self-confidence, and the


speech

monitoring

abilities

and

speech

modification

strategies.

Therefore, it is vital that students learning English for international


communication learn to speak it as intelligibly and comprehensibly as
possible not necessarily like natives, but well enough to be
understood (Morley, 1991).
What teachers want to achieve is students pronouncing words
exactly the same as the Americans do. But students are not getting
what teachers want since the Filipino language is a way different from
English. The difference between the Filipino and English alphabets
becomes the first problem since the two languages have quite different
sets of alphabet. As children, students were introduced to the Filipino
alphabet which has no other vowel sounds aside from a, e, i, o and u
compared to English, which has more than twenty, including the
diphthongs and triphthongs. Filipinos are used to using only five vowel
sounds, and only then at formal schooling, usually at even the higher
levels of education, when they learn of the existence of the other
vowel sounds. This is not to justify students mispronunciation but to
make teachers understand more the students situation. Forcing
students to sound American would only make them feel a very
pressuring atmosphere which would consequently have an adverse
effect to their communicative performance. The teacher therefore
should not imbibe to students mind that the most important thing in
pronunciation is to sound exactly like the native speakers of English.

What is more and most important is how well students pronounce the
sounds to distinguish meaning.
Thus, it is not perfect pronunciation that counts. Because what
will help EIL learners have the communicative competence is the
intelligible pronunciation. What is more important is the meaning the
speakers effectively communicate. It is not significant to sound exactly
like the Americans do. But, it is much more important to successfully
pronounce the word, achieving the purpose of communication to
deliver a clear message.
Statement of the Problem
This study aims to prove that intelligible pronunciation is more
effective

in

improving

the

communicative

competence

and

performance of the students and that unintelligibility hampers the


success of communication.
Specifically, this study aims to answer the following questions:
1. What aspects of communicative competence does intelligible
pronunciation positively affect?
2. How to avoid unintelligible pronunciation?
Significance of the Study
This study was undertaken with the hope that its findings will
prove beneficial to the following:
Teaching Profession. Teachers will utilize the results of the
study as a basis on how to improve the pronunciation of students. That
is, they would have an idea on what to focus on for the development of

their students pronunciation. With this, the teachers view of


pronunciation can somehow change. They can also gain more concepts
on strategies to advance students pronunciation.
Future Researchers. This research is important so that future
researchers may use this as a springboard for offering a heightened
level of teaching strategy touching the depths of the students realistic
learning.
The Curriculum Planner. This study serves as one of their
bases in planning the over-all design of the English program in
adapting to the abilities and factors affecting the pronunciation of the
students. They may consider the results of the study to modify existing
recommended methods in the teaching of pronunciation.
Scope and Delimitation
This study deals with the greater reliability of intelligible
pronunciation than perfect pronunciation in terms of the STI Vigan
Students communicative competence as well as performance.
The researcher observed students pronunciation for two months,
five consecutive weekdays in their English subjects. It involved 116
respondents: 10 from BSCS1, 20 from BSCS3, 7 from BSTM1, 17 from
HRS1A, 23 from HRS1B, 28 from HRS2A, and 11 from IT2.
Operational Definition of Terms
The Operational Definition of Terms includes the dependent variable
being Communicative competence and the independent variable being

Intelligible Pronunciation (in contrast to Perfect Pronunciation). The


following terms are defined according to their use in the study.
Communicative competence. is a term in linguistics which refers to
a language user's grammatical knowledge of syntax, morphology,
phonology and the like, as well as social knowledge about how and
when to use utterances appropriately (Wikipedia, 2015).
Intelligible

pronunciation.

The

extent

to

which

utterances

are

understandable to a speakers audience (Munro, 2010); where you need not


exactly sound as native speakers of the language do.

Perfect pronunciation. The extent to which utterances are exactly


copied by a non-native speaker to sound like a native speaker.
Unintelligible pronunciation. The extent to which utterances are
made but become meaningless due to the speakers mispronunciation.

Chapter II
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Theoretical Framework
This chapter presents related literatures, which were reviewed by
the researcher to gain insights in the conduct of the study.
1.1 Pronunciation and its Implications Seen from Different
Perspectives
Morley (1991) identifies intelligible pronunciation as an essential
component of communicative competence that stays at the heart
of CLT (Communicative Language Teaching Approach is introduced
in Bangladesh for nearly two decades). According to Fraser (2000)
person with good pronunciation skills can improve their general
language skills at a greater rate than someone with bad
pronunciation. Therefore, pronunciation instruction is of great
importance for successful oral communication to take place.

Moreover, pronunciation has an essential socio-cultural value


(Gelvanovsky, 2002) signifying its relation to attitudes and identity.
Since the way we pronounce determine how we are likely to be
perceived, understood and sometimes judged by others. Norton
(2000 in Setter, 2008) says socio-cultural identity is a complex
construct that defines the individual and the wider social and
cultural environment. Setter and Jenkins (2005:6) in this regard
mentions:
Pronunciation, it seems, is a more sensitive area of language than
other linguistic levels because of the way in which it encroaches on
identity and elicits strong attitudes.
Despite the fact that pronunciation is an essential and integrated
component

of

oral

communication

and

communicative

competence, it very often remains neglected or absent in many


language teaching programs even if it is included in the curriculum.
Researchers like Morley (1991), Celce-Murcia et al (1996), Jenkins
(2004), Levis (2005) and others hold the similar view. It is believed
that teaching pronunciation is unnecessary in ESL/FL since
nonnative teachers cannot teach native like pronunciation. In
addition, Harmer (2003) found teachers neglecting it reasoning
that

they

have

already

many

things

to

do

and

pronunciation will only add problems to their teaching.


1.2 Pronunciation in EIL Paradigm

teaching

However, the practitioners of such belief may have forgot the


status of English as an international language (EIL) and that English
is no more delimited between the so-called two standards of
English namely British and American. The global spread of English
has made it plural in its nature including as many standards as
legitimized all over the world and very often termed as Englishes or
World Englishes (WE). It also recognizes the fact there are now
more interactions between non-natives users of English who have
outnumbered the natives (Graddol, 2006). This therefore reinforces
the need to integrate pronunciation with other language skills for
mutual intelligibility among speakers of many varieties of English.
The need to revisit the goals of teaching oral skills along with
pronunciation and the way to integrate it in the syllabus and
evaluation is thus as strong as ever (Richards, 2006 in Sharifian,
2009). The focus of EIL paradigm in terms of proficiency is thus on
successful communication regardless of nationality, skin color and
circles and so on. Another consideration that cannot be unnoticed
is that in the area of ELT profession many users of English, in fact
80% professionals as found by Canagarajah (1999 cited in McKay,
2002), need the language for lingua franca communication with
other non-native speakers as well as with native speaker (Sharifian,
2009). Therefore it is rather impractical to stay behind in teaching

pronunciation requiring native fluency and norms and native


materials.
1.3 Pronunciation in a CLT program
Although early CLT in 1980 ignored pronunciation perceiving as a
difficult

area,

believing

communicative

practice

teaching
and

phonology

thus

threaten

would

impede

students

self-

confidence, recent research established the fact that pronunciation


is a vital element of communicative competence, the ultimate goal
to attain in CLT and that pronunciation should be given preferential
treatment (Jenkins, 2004). Despite the current dominance of
intelligibility as the goal of pronunciation, pronunciation is still outof-the-way in materials. With the advent of CLT, the focus of
learning shifted from the teacher-centered teaching to the learnercentered learning environment (Brown, 2001 in Hismanoglu, 2006).
The idea of Chomskys linguistic competence (1965) turned
towards a broader outlook of learning a language provided by
Hymes (1972) that is to attain the ability to communicate in real
speech incorporating culture. However, the very inherent nature of
the

communicative

approaches

emphasizes

successful

communication that in turn involves teaching pronunciation. The


goal

of

pronunciation

has

taken

transition

from

perfect

pronunciation to the more realistic goals set by Morley (1991 in


Hismanoglu,

2006)

to

upward

functional

intelligibility,

communicability, increased self-confidence and self-monitoring


abilities and strategies to use real speech beyond classroom. Still
teachers tend to ignore pronunciation focusing on grammar and
vocabulary. For some teachers pronunciation, as pointed out by
Levis (2005), is neither teachable nor even needed as they believe
students can learn pronunciation at the end of language programs
without any training. Therefore the fate of pronunciation is still
apparently dependent on intuition and ideology rather than
research.
Conceptual Framework
In the conduct of the study, the researchers were guided by the
following paradigm:
Intelligible
Pronunciation

Communicative
Competence

Figure 1. The Research Paradigm

The research paradigm shows that intelligible pronunciation leads to


communicative competence. The researcher believes that intelligible
pronunciation has a lot more benefits than perfect pronunciation when
it comes to communicative competence as well as performance.

Chapter III
METHODOLOGY
This chapter includes the Research Design, Data Gathering
Procedure, and Subjects of the Study.
Research Design

Observ
er
Student
s
Unintelligibil
ity
Figure 2. The Research Design Paradigm
The research design paradigm shows the three key elements
which are important in the fulfillment of the study. The researcher
serves as the observer who will study the students intelligibility but
mainly their unintelligibility.
Data-Gathering Procedure
The

researcher

used

the

Balanced

Participation

type

of

Observation method to document words which students mispronounce,


taking note of the word and its frequency. The proponent of this study

will only listen to students sentences. This went on for two months in
five consecutive weekdays.
Subjects of the Study
The subjects of this study were several students of STI Vigan, A. Y.
2014-2015 composed of 10 BSCS1, 20 BSCS3, 7 BSTM1, 17 HRS1A, 23
HRS1B, 28 HRS2A, and 11 IT2. It was conducted during the Final Period
of the Second Semester. Total enumeration was used.

Chapter IV
PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF DATA
This

chapter

presents

the

analysis

and

interpretation

of

information from the gathered data to determine the students


communicative competence.
Table 1.1.1: Unintelligible Pronunciation at Segmental Level
Word

IPA Transcription

Students
Mispronounced Form

Apple
Lieutenant

/p.l /
/leften. nt/ /lu-/

Suffer
Pneumonia

/sf. r / /-/
/njum.ni./ nu
mo.nj/

Psychology

/sakl..di/ /-k.l-/

Quiet
Hate
Liar
Riding
Gaining
Smiling
Knee
Aspect
Do
Who
Caged
Left
Mess
Resume
Lake
Double
Heart
Disease
Shy
Jolly
Toward

/kwat/
/het/
/la. r / /-/
/ra.d/
/sma.l/
/sma.l/
/ni/
/s.pekt/
/d/ , /du/ , /du/
/hu/
/ked/
/left/
/mes/
/rzjum//-zum/
/lek/
/db.l /
/ht/ /hrt/
/dziz/
/a/
/dl.i/ /d.li/
/twdz/ /twrdz/

Beat
Concise
Wise

/bit/

/efel/; /abel/
Liutenent/ljttennt/;
litentent/ / ltentent
/spr/
Pinumina/pnmn/;
Piniominia/pnmn/; /
fmn/
/pskldi
/fdkld/
/kwat/ ; /kwt/
/ht/
/lr /
/rd/
/zan/
/sml/
/kn/ ; /kn/
/eksept/
/d/
/h/
/krek/
/lft/
/ms/
/rsm/
/lek/ /lak/
/dvl/
/hart/
/dss/ /dsas/
/se/; /e/
/zol/
Sounds like coward
/ta.rd/
/vt/
/knss/
/ez/

/knsas/
/waz/

Nearly/ Similar to
another Meaningful
Sound
--Supper
--Quite, Quit
Hit
Leer
Reading
---Kin
Accept
Dough
-Lift
Mis/Miss
-Like
---------Sounds like Coward
Veet
Ways

Kid

/kd/

Sound like kite //kad/

--

In response to the unintelligible articulation that students made


while speaking, the above given table shows their mispronounced
forms in association with nearly or very similar sound existing in
English. While some of them may contribute in changing meaning,
some may cause unintelligibility with no meaning at all. The
articulation of words do as dough, quiet as quite and quit, since
as science, through as throw (as they drop the gliding vowel) will
very likely affect intelligibility and comprehensibility. Students tend to
utter words based on the spelling as evident in enunciations of
disease concise where they do not replace /s/ with /z/ or leave
diphthong /a/.
It was found that in most of the cases students could not utter
long vowels as longer as required. 80% of the students utter the word
calm using short vowel // instead of long /a: / Similarly, while
uttering diphthong, usually longer than pure vowel, students left the
second vowel unsounded in many cases. 100% students could not
utter the diphthong quiet. All of them uttered the word like quite or
quit, that have different meanings. Similarly, 90% students uttered
lake as /lek/. In terms of consonants, 100% of students failed to
pronounce the word conscience and tragically. Schwa // in all
positions posed difficulty for both group of students (urban and rural)
as in ago, quiet, and western. A good number of them failed to

articulate the short vowel // in son, long vowel // in hurt,


diphthong /e/ in paper, voiceless fricative / / in conscience,
voiceless plosive /t, k/ and voiced affricate / d/ in tragically, cover
and in approximant /w/ in Wednesday. In comparison to students of
urban colleges, students from rural colleges mispronounced to a
greater extent. While none of the students from urban colleges had
problem uttering the long vowel /u: / in who, 50% rural students
replace /u: / with / /. While only 30% of students in urban faced
problem pronouncing the diphthong in hate, 90% of rural students
mispronounced it. None of the students from urban had problem
uttering words meat, next, ABC, and do, a good number of
students in rural faced problem uttering those. A good number of
students from BSCS3 added an // before words like MA, ABC,
apple and so on. They also had great difficulty with voiceless
approximant in initial position in words like war, Wednesday, and
website since they utter /w/ as //.

Chapter V
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
Surprisingly, seldom anyone has shown interest in conducting
research at HSC level in this respect. It might be related to the fact of
ignorance toward pronunciation in the English teaching, its absence in
evaluation and also in the teacher training materials (Khan, 2007). In
this respect, the present empirical research would raise awareness
among language teachers, policy makers, and the concerned authority
to help build an examination that will influence teaching-learning oral
skills underlying pronunciation. The research community would also be
benefited from the findings of the study since they will get updated
information regarding the significance of pronunciation and the
distinguished problems that students have.

From the findings it is found that students have serious problems


on pronouncing short vowel // and /, i/, all long vowels, diphthongs,
and voiceless consonants. They face serious difficulty uttering words
inconsistent

in

spelling

and

sound

as

found

in

lieutenant,

pneumonia, doubt, Wednesday and others. It suggests students


need teaching sounds using IPA with a view to produce learners with
mutual intelligibility not imitating ability. The distinctive way of
speaking by Filipino learners generally accepted and intelligible in the
country can be identified through collaborative action research and be
introduced to the student as a variety of our own.
Teachers also need to be trained on the aspects of pronunciation
on how to teach it and the issues relating to it. Raising awareness
toward the significance of pronunciation is required not only for
teacher but also for teacher trainers, policy makers, and head
teachers. Sessions can also be arranged, even if needed, for guardians
and parents who may pressurize teachers to focus on exam-oriented
teaching. Moreover, a change to evaluation is the demand of time
since the loopholes between policy and practice has to blame the
evaluation

system

that

extensively

focuses

on

writing

and

memorization of drills only.


Students should be exposed to Balanced Approach of learning
English with a view to preparing them for the future interactions in EIL.
They should be taught English as a language not as a subject

incorporating proficiency aspects, local and target language culture,


and more importantly all these should be done using realia so that
learners can feel motivated and personalize it in their real life context.
Based on the findings of the study following suggestions can be made:

Awareness raising sessions in the form of seminar, conference,


workshop and so on should be familiarized at all levels of

education in the country


Training for trainers and teacher on phonetics and phonology
Testing oral skills underlying pronunciation
Integrated pronunciation teaching with other skills
5-7 minutes short session on pronunciation can be enormously
helpful for bringing a change in pace of the class activity

(Harmer, 2003)
Filipino-English differences in terms of sound-orthography can be
categorized. For example English contains /a/ in many forms as in

/ / whereas in Filipino /a/ has only one sound.


Collaborative action research to perform contrastive analysis
undertaken by some known and well reputed scholars in the

country can be of real help for students to contribute further


Varieties of English should be familiarized

The current empirical research focused on the significance of


pronunciation at HSC emphasizing segmental aspects of pronunciation.
However, further study can be undertaken on suprasegmentals,
including nuclear stress that also causes unintelligibility to a larger
extent (Jenkins, 2004).

REFERENCES
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National Center for English Language Teaching and Research,
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Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton D. M. & Goodwin J. M. (1996) Teaching
Pronunciation. A Reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of
Other Languages. Cambridge: CUP.
Derwing, T. M (2010). Utopian Goals for Pronunciation Teaching. In J.
Levis and K. Levelle (Eds), Proceedings of the 1st Pronunciation
in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, Iowa

State University, Sept, 2009 (pp 24-47), Ames, IA: Iowa State
University.
Fraser, H. (2000) Coordinating Improvements in Pronunciation Teaching
for Adult learners of English as a Second Language. Canberra:
DETYA
Gelvanovsky (2002). Effective pronunciation teaching: principles,
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