A Survey of Kurdish Students’ Sound Segment & Syllabic Pattern Errors in the Course of Learning EFL

Jahangir Mohammadi


This paper is devoted to finding adequate answers to the following queries: (A) what are the segmental and syllabic pattern errors made by Kurdish students in their pronunciation? (B) Can the problematic areas in pronunciation be predicted by a systematic comparison of the sound systems of both native and target languages? (C) Can there be any consistency between the predictions and the results of the error analysis experiments in the same field?

To reach the goals of the study the following steps were taken; 1.The sound systems and syllabic patterns of both languages Kurdish and English were clearly described on the basis of place and manner of articulation and the combinatory power of clusters. 2. To carry out a contrastive analysis, the sound segments (vowels, consonants and diphthongs) and the syllabic patterns of both languages were compared in order to surface the similarities and differences.  3. The syllabic patterns and sound segments in English that had no counterparts in Kurdish were detected and considered as problematic areas in pronunciation. 4. To countercheck the acquired predictions, an experiment was carried out with 50 male and female pre-university students.

Subjects were given some passages to read. The readability index of these passages ranged from 8.775 to 10.432 which are quite suitable in comparison to the readability index of pre-university texts ranging from 8.675 to 10.475. All samples of bound production were transcribed in IPA and the syllabic patterns were shown by symbols ‘V’ and ‘C’ indicating vowels and consonants respectively. An error analysis of the acquired data proved that English sound segments and syllabic patterns with no counterparts in Kurdish resulted in pronunciation errors.

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