The Effects of the Thai Phonological and Writing Systems on Spelling and Writing in English: A Case Study of Burapha University Students


Thai has unique phonological structures, which contrast with other languages. Crucially, the fact that Thai lacks certain English consonant phonemes in its phonological system has created problems for Thai learners of EFL in accommodating and pronouncing English sounds, particularly the consonant ones. This could result in ambiguity and miscommunication e.g. ‘tin' instead of ‘thin' due to an absence of the voiceless interdental fricative /θ/). It is inevitable that the Thai learners have considerable difficulty uttering English phonemes. Another major issue with regard to the writing system of the two languages is that the English writing system uses Roman script and shows a great deal of its irregularity of grapheme-phoneme correspondence, whereas the Thai writing system uses non-Roman script but a more rule-governed  grapheme-phoneme correspondence. The two aforementioned issues are hypothesised to contribute to the spelling and writing of English in the Thai learners. The purpose of this research is to investigate the nature of the Thai and English writing systems together with the Thai and English phonological systems focusing on the crucial differences that prevent individuals from mastering the system of English spelling; and to understand better the aforementioned issues and put forward some feasible alternatives to common problems among the learners. This paper will present whether the hypothesis is correct and another striking factor that affects the spelling and writing of the learners through experimental tasks, adapted from Cook (2004) and an informal interview with the participants.

Author Information
On-Usa Phimsawat, Burapha University, Thailand

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2013
Stream: Language Learning

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