ExLing 2010 - Third Workshop on Experimental Linguistics

Athens, Greece
August 25-27, 2010

The IPA Training on the Pronunciation of Difficult English Words for Cantonese Speakers

Sunyoung Oh

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

This study examined English pronunciation by Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to see how the application of IPA can be used in language education. Twenty university students, divided into two groups, one with the IPA training and the other without the training, were asked to read 30 English words (5 controls) that contain challenging sounds (e.g., liaison, knead) with and without the IPA transcriptions. Words were divided into three categories - difficult vowels, silent sounds, and ambiguous sounds. Results showed that the pronunciations by the IPA trained group improved greatly for all categories when IPA was provided; however, the response time was longer compared to the non-trained group. No significant improvement was found in the non-trained group though the pronunciation of the words with silent sounds improved with the IPA. The study suggests that the IPA training can be an alternative way to assist ESL learners to have access to proper English pronunciations when resources are limited.

Index Terms. Phonetic alphabet, pronunciation, second language acquisition, English, Cantonese

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Oh, Sunyoung (2010): "The IPA training on the pronunciation of difficult English words for Cantonese speakers", In ExLing-2010, 129-132.