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Volume 8 Number 2, Summer 2011, Pages 1-210   

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Let's See if Learners' Level of Proficiency in English Affects their Production of Segmentals and Suprasegmentals: A Case of Iranian EFL Learners

    Saeed Mehrpour and Mohammad Makki

This study was conducted to examine some error-provoking areas of English pronunciation for Iranian EFL learners. More specifically, it was meant to determine if there was any difference among learners of different proficiency levels in the areas of problematic consonantal features, the vowel schwa, and suprasegmental features. Thirty male learners ranging in age from 14 to 21 at the three levels of proficiency participated in this study. The instrument used to gather the data was an oral test based on some passages containing the problematic pronunciation areas. The passages were extracted from the learners' course books. The learners were individually asked to read the texts aloud. The recorded learners' voices were scored on a five rating scale. The analysis of data revealed that learners' level of proficiency was a determining factor regarding their production of consonantal features (θ, ð, w, initial consonant clusters) and the vowel schwa (ә), but it did not have any impact on the production of stress patterns, and intonation contours. The researchers provide some suggestions to improve the pronunciation ability of EFL learners in general and Iranian EFL learners in particular.

Keywords: pronunciation, consonants, schwa, suprasegmental features