cause problems to adolescent and adult learners but the limitations can be compensated to some degree.
2.13.3. Learner’s attitude and sense of identity
Nonlinguistic factors can influence achievement in pronunciation. One of these factors that strongly determine the accuracy of learners’ pronunciation are a person’s “sense of identity” and feelings of “group affiliation”. If the learners are positive and opened-mind towards the English speakers, they are likely to adopt and imitate English accent easily. Attitude toward the target language, culture, and native speakers; degree of acculturation (including exposure to and use of the target language); personal identity issues can all support or impede pronunciation skills development. Bolitho (qtd. in Sharkey) claims that although it is difficult for learners to find suitable balance between his/her mother tongue and the target language, since they have a kind of emotional and intellectual relationship with both languages, finding the suitable balance contributes to attaining comprehensible pronunciation. His theory is supported by Marques, who suggests that learners need to seek acculturation by which they adopt the new culture while maintaining the identity of the old one (qtd. in Sharkey 2003: 14).
The role of motivation appears to be a very influential factor. Some of the nonnative speakers are more concerned about their pronunciation than others. Their desire to attain good pronunciation, usually influenced by their sense of responsibility, helps them to achieve comprehensible pronunciation. As far as motivation is concerned, Brod (qtd. in Sharkey 2003) outlines several motivational factors that make learners work on their pronunciation:
– Learners want to improve themselves
– Learners want to become a part of the target language community
– Learners need their speech to be intelligible to their children’s teachers
– Learners want to improve their employment prospective
– Learners want to improve their everyday communication skills
Overall, motivation as a very important influential factor cannot be generalized since every learner has different views, but indentifying learners’ motivations helps teachers to create a supportive classroom atmosphere and develop learners’ motivations.
2.13.5. Amount and type of prior pronunciation instruction
In EFL settings, instructions may have taken the form of repetition drills led by a teacher whose own pronunciation differed from a target norm. Alternatively, in an ESL multi skills classes, pronunciation may not have been explicitly dealt with at all, and students may not have been fully aware of their pronunciation problems. Whatever the scenario, we need to recognize that in any pronunciation class at the intermediate and advanced levels of proficiency, we may be dealing with somewhat fixed or systematic pronunciation error. Thus as a teacher, the syllabus and techniques that we implement must be tailored to the types of problems we discern among our student (Celce-Murcia, Brinton, Goodwin, 1996; 17).
2.14. Pronunciation and Contrastive Analysis
Comparing one language with another is not new in linguistics. Certainly the most longstanding theory of phonological acquisition is contrastive analysis hypothesis. Contrastive analysis is essentially founded on the assumption that languages can be compared and contrasted. That is to say, contrastive studies contribute to our knowledge of language structure and of the relations obtained between language systems; therefore, Contrastive Analysis is mainly concerned with linguistic matters.
The means for such comparison is provided by linguistics to render descriptive accounts of the learner’s native language and the target language (Keshavarz, 1949). This theory holds that second language acquisition is filtered through the learners’ first language, with the native language facilitating acquisition in those cases where the target structures are similar, and ‘interfering’ with acquisition in cases where learners cannot remember whether to say ‘ civility’ (Celce-Murcia, Brinton, Goodwin, 1996). Contrastive analysis consists of two main steps: (1) description, and (2) comparison. Different versions of contrastive analysis share these two main steps; however, some proponents have proposed some additional procedures. Whitman (1970), for example, noted that contrastive analysis involves four different procedures: (1) description, (2) selection, (3) contrast, (4) prediction.
Since contrastive analysis involved some degree of subjectivity, some of the proponents of CAH made an effort to formalize the prediction stage of contrastive analysis, to remove some of the subjectivity involved. Stockwell, and Bowen (1965) proposed what they called a hierarchy of difficulty by which a teacher or linguist can make a prediction of the relative difficulty of a given aspect of the second language. Stockwell and his associates suggested eight possible degree of difficulty. These degrees were based upon the notions of transfer (positive, negative, and zero) and of optional and obligatory choices of certain phonemes in the two languages in contrast (Keshavarz, 1949). Through a very careful, systematic analysis of the properties of the two languages in reference to the hierarchy of difficulty, applied linguists were able to derive a reasonably accurate inventory of phonological difficulties that a second language learner would encounter. Eckman (as cited in Celce-Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin, 1996) asserts that contrastive analysis alone is not enough and proposes to remedy the deficiency of contrastive analysis by constructing a hierarchy of difficulty for phonological acquisition; the hierarchy might predict not only which sounds learners would have difficulty with, but which problems would be more difficult for a linguistically homogeneous group of learners.
A contrastive analysis of English and Iranian phonology can help to identify potential, even likely, challenges for Iranian speakers of English. This proposition is founded on Lado’s (1975) claim that the learners “transfer the forms and meaning” (p. 2) from their first language (L1) to their second language (L2). His assertion is the basis of the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH), which states that a comparison of two languages can be used to “predict areas that will be either easy or difficult for learners” (Gass & Selinker, 2001, p. 72). Based on this assumption, structural linguists systematically compared and contrasted the structure of the learner’s native language with that of the target language in order to identify areas of difficulty for second language learners and to produce appropriate teaching materials to overcome their difficulties Lado (1957) emphasized that knowledge of language similarities and differences is critical for developing teaching materials, creating tests for pronunciation and vocabulary, designing research, and understanding cultures (pp. 2-8). Lado warned, however, that these predictions must be confirmed by evidence from actual learner production (p 72). Lado recognized that some hypothetical problems are not realized in production, and, conversely, significant difficulties not predicted may arise. Moreover, due to variations among individuals, not all learners will encounter the same difficulties. Although knowledge of L1 transfer is not the only factor affecting pronunciation of an L2, it is certainly an important component in a balanced approach to more intelligible production (Avery & Ehrlich, 1992). There are numerous phonological features on which English and Iranian differ.
2.15. Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH)
Contrastive Analysis Hypotheses (CAH) is an extension of the notion of Contrastive Analysis. Depending on the similarities and differences between the structure of the learner’s (L1) and that of the (L2), CAH attributed to the ability to predict errors to the Contrastive Analysis of two languages. For instance, the
use of inflection indicating number is similar in Farsi and English; however, in considering the word order in English, the second noun is the head noun, and the first one is the modifier; whereas in Farsi, the roles are reversed. Therefore, the inference of this is that wherever there are significant differences between a pattern in the learners L1 and L2, it can be predicted that the learner will experience difficulties. In the words of Lado:
The student who comes in contact with a foreign language will find some features of it quite easy and others extremely difficult. Those elements that are similar to his native language will be simple for him, and those elements that are different will be difficult (Lado, 1957, p.2). In addition, psychological foundation of Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis comes into two types: positive and negative transfer. Positive transfer occurs when learners’ L1 structure is similar to their L2; in this case, facilitation happens due to the fact that the learners would face no difficulties since what they have learnt in their L1 learning situation is positively transferred into the L2. But negative transfer happens when the structure of the L1 is dissimilar to that of the L2. This difference is problematic and causes interference as it impedes the learning of the L2. Proponents of such transfers in foreign language learning assumed that learning of similar items for example, words, sounds, structures in the foreign language is easy and different patterns is difficult and the degree of difficulty depends on the degree of differences between the two languages. This assumption was later labelled as the strong version of the CAH.
Strong version made some claims with respect to predicting the difficulties and errors of second language learners (Keshavarz, 1949). The strong version and the idea that second or foreign language learners’ difficulties and errors could be