Phonology And Pronunciation

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Assessment Type

Case Study

Word Count

2500 words




2 Days

Assignment Criteria

Task description

  • Compare the phonology of English and another language at the phonemic level 

Choose one of the following L1 groups: Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Arabic or Korean. This can be the same L1 group you covered in Assessment 1 or a different one. Include a section each on (a), (b) and (c), with the option of (d). Present (e) as a separate section.

  1. a) Consonant sounds
  2. b) Consonant clusters
  3. c) Vowels
  4. d) Linking
  5. e) Points of difficulty for a learner of the selected language background.

Note: You must use phonemic script. This can be accessed from If you have chosen Mandarin, please do not use the Pinyin system of romanisation for Chinese phonemes. This is only partly phonetic. 

  • Select and evaluate a resource for teaching phonemic skills to ESL/EFL learners
  1. Focus on one of the areas of difficulty for your selected language group from the last part of section 1, e.g. consonant clusters. From one unit of an English-teaching text, choose one or more activities focused on teaching this skill. Name the text, the level of English it is targeting, the context of use, and the place of your selected task(s) within the unit. Provide a printed copy of the unit (and Teacher's Instructions if available) in the Appendix.
  2. Describe the task(s) and its purpose. 
  3. Evaluate its effectiveness in terms of helping students from this L1 background to improve your chosen phonemic skill. How could you use or modify the task(s) to assist them in developing this skill?

Notes to assist with Part 2 (Evaluation): 

Consider the resource's benefits and limitations in terms of language and learning. Do not simply describe, but analyse/evaluate. Some of the following prompts may help. Choose what is relevant for your resource and include other aspects if you wish.


  • What aspects or elements of phonemic awareness are presented? 
  • Are they relevant, comprehensible? 
  • Is the language real, realistic, appropriate? 
  • Is there dialogue/monologue? 
  • What kind of context is provided? Does this matter? 
  • What kind of visual support is there?  


  • Are models and/or examples provided to present the phonemic skill to students? 
  • To what extent do materials/activities give students the opportunity to listen, to practise, to receive feedback, and (if appropriate) to produce pronunciation in a communicative way?


  • What changes could you make to the resource itself to help your target group?
  • What teaching techniques or approaches could you use to guide your students through the task(s)?


1) Structure of Task 3

    • Task 3 is in the form of a report. Please note that sub-headings are useful. However, you should not include an introduction, conclusion, or contents page.
  • After Part 2 (Evaluation of a resource), you must provide: 
  • a Reference List of all the sources you have referred to in your assignment.
  • an Appendix. Provide a printed copy of the unit you have evaluated (and Teacher's Instructions if available).


Most students will draw upon Learner English (Swan & Smith, 2001). There are two important points to bear in mind when using this resource.

(i) Swan and Smith (2001) is an edited volume. Each language appears as a separate chapter with a different author. When you cite that book in-text, you must refer to the author of the particular chapter you have selected, rather than Swan and Smith, who are the editors. 

(ii) All tasks will be submitted via Turnitin. However, Learner English has not been included in the Turnitin database, so any matches between it and your assignment will not show. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that you follow correct procedures for paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting.

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Assignment Solution

Language Information

The L1 chosen for the present study is Arabic. L2 is given as English. Since both English and Arabic have a large number of dialects, which can have a lot of differences even at the phonological level, for the purpose of this report, I plan to take into consideration Standard American English and Modern Standard Arabic to minimize variation and to present a consistent phonemic analysis.

Arabic is a Semitic language from the Afro-Asiatic Language Family, whereas English is a West Germanic language from the Indo-European Language family. Inevitably, these languages show many differences at the phonological level. Of course, they are also strikingly different at the level of orthography, lexemes, morphology, syntax, etc.

Phonemic Analysis

While studying the sound system of a language at a segmental level, we differentiate between two kinds of speech sounds, i.e. consonants and vowels. Consonants and vowels can be distinguished on the basis of their articulatory, acoustic and auditory properties. 

Consonants are those sounds during the production of which there is partial or complete constriction somewhere in the vocal tract. Consonants are distinguished on the basis of the manner of occurrence of this constriction, the place in the vocal tract where this happens, and whether the sound production involves vibration in the vocal cords leading to voicing (Roach 1983). 

Vowels, on the other hand, are those sounds during the production of which it is comparatively little or no constriction, leading to an open configuration of the vocal tract. Vowels are classified mainly on the basis of height (high and low), place (front and back) and rounding of lips (rounded and unrounded), however, length of the vowels (short and long) and vowel quality are also important criteria for their classification. Then there are cases where the boundaries of the definitions of consonants and vowels blur, as in the case of liquids and semi-vowels (Pennington 1996). The phonemic analysis of a language involves examining of these individual phonemes or speech sounds and the way in which they combine with other phonemes within the words of a language (morpho-phonetics) or across word boundaries during actual speech.

Consonant System of English and Arabic

Arabic sound system comprises a total of thirty-two consonants, while that of English has only twenty-four. There are quite a number of common consonant sounds in both languages. However, there is also a considerable set of consonants restricted to each language. 

The roots of Arabic words are nothing but a sequence of vowel-less consonants (they are, thus, also referred to as consonantal roots). Arabic words are formed from vowel infixes between such a sequence of consonants. Difference vowel infixes can lead to a change in meaning. This also means Arabic words can only begin with consonants (Watson 2002). However, in English, this is not the case. The roots of English words generally have both consonants and vowels together as syllables. Also, English words can begin with either consonants or vowels. In a way, consonants are more important than vowels in Arabic sound system. A consequence of that is consonants are emphasized in Arabic, but this does not necessarily happen in English. 

Another major difference is, Arabic does not differentiate between a lot of voiceless and voiced sound pairs like /p/, /b/, /g/, /k/ (plosives or stops) and /f/, /v/ (fricatives). Unlike English, they are not distinct phonemes but allophones in Arabic. The phenomenon of rhoticity in English and Arabic is also different. Although English dialects vary greatly in the use of rhotic consonants, the /r/ is preserved in the Standard variety. Arabic learners, however, make it a voiced flap. Next, the approximation of English /h/ sound is harsh and highly aspirated in Arabic. The velar nasal sound /ŋ/ is absent in Arabic but is common in English (Smith 2011).

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