Effects of EFL Instruction Utilizing International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) on Intelligibility of Japanese Students


This study focuses on intelligibility of Japanese students pronunciation. Japanese students are handicapped in acquiring EFL, because Japanese differs from English especially in phonetic system and the relation between letters and sound. The shortest unit of Japanese sound is a mora, while that of English is a phoneme. Therefore, Japanese students tend to insert vowels between consonants, and as a results, they have difficulties both in having their utterances understood and understanding English native speakers pronunciation. In other words, Japanese students` pronunciation lack intelligibility. The problem is that most teachers use Japanese letters to express English sounds from the early years of EFL instruction. Although IPA is taught at highly-selective schools, it has been judged to be too difficult for slow learners. The aim of this study is to develop an effective teaching materials for slow learners and prove their effect. The experiment was executed in a class named Four Skills in English for 20 slow learners at university. The experiment has four steps as follows: 1) A pronunciation test is given as pre-test. 2) The students take the class for the first semester, and each period of the class includes a module time of instruction using IPA. 3) The same pronunciation test is given at the end of the semester. 4) An English native teacher assesses the test with a perspective of intelligibility. As a result, the statistical analysis of the scores of pre-test and post-test revealed the students improved in intelligibility.

Author Information
Reiko Yamamoto, Kyoto Junior College of Foreign Studies, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICAHHawaii2017
Stream: Humanities - Language, Linguistics

This paper is part of the IICAHHawaii2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon