When we start to learn a new language, we only think that grammar is the most important think  to use the language we learn. What about pronunciation? We don’t think that it’s as important as grammar while we’re learning . We realize how important it is when we try to talk a native speaker.

So do you think  all ESL learners have the same pronunciation problems?  the answer is no! your problems depend on your mother tongue. let’s look some learners’ mother tongue and their difficulties  with English pronunciation.

Countries like, Algeria, Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar … use Arabic as a mother tongue. Arabic is a Semitic language, having a grammatical system similar to Assyrian, Aramaic, Hebrew, Ethiopian.

The Arabic and English  phonological systems are very different, not only the range of sounds used, but in the emphasis placed on vowels and consonants in expressing meaning.

Among the features of  Arabic which give rise to an “Arabic accent” in English are

1. More energetic articulation than English, with more stressed syllables, but fewer clearly articulated vowels, giving a dull, staccato “jabber” effect.

2. The use of glottal stops before initial vowels a common feature of Arabic, thus breaking up the natural catenations of English.

3. A general reluctance to omit consonants, once the written form is known, e.g. /klaɪmbed/ for climbed.

While virtually all vowels may cause problems, the following are the most common confusions.

1./ɪ/ and /e/ are often confused : bit for  bet

2./ɒ/ and /ɔː/ are often confused cot for caught

3. Diphthongs /eɪ/ and /aʊ/ are usually pronounced rather short, and are confused with /e/ and /¡/: red for raid; hop for hope.

Shaded phonemes have equivalents or near equivalents in Arabic and  should therefore be perceived and articulated without great difficulty although some confusions may still arise. Unshaded phonemes may cause problems. For detailed comments, see below.

1. Arabic has only one letter in the /ɡ/±/dʒ/ area, which is pronounce   as /g/ in some regions, notably Egypt, and as /dʒ/ in others. Arab speakers tend, therefore, to pronounce an English g, and sometimes even a j, in all positions according to their local dialects.

2. /tʃ / as a phoneme is found only in a few dialects, but the sound occurs naturally in all dialects in junctures of /t/ and /ʃ/.

3. There are two approximations to the English /h/ in Arabic. The commoner of them is an unvoiced, harsh aspiration; Arabic speakers tend therefore to pronounce an English /h/ rather harshly.

4. /r/ is a voiced ¯ap, very unlike the RP /r/. Arabic speakers commonly overpronounce the post-vocalic r, as in car park.

5. /p/ and /b/ are allophonic and tend to be used rather randomly:

I baid ten bence for a bicture of Pig Pen.

6. /v/ and /f/ are allophonic, and are usually both pronounced as /f/.

It is a fery nice fillage.

7. /g/ and /k/ are often confused, especially by those Arabs whose

dialects do not include the phoneme /g/. Pairs like goat/coat and bag/

back cause difficulty.

8. Although /θ/ and  /ð/ occur in literary Arabic, most dialects pro-nounce them as /t/ and /d/ respectively. The same tends to happen in students’ English.

I tink dat dey are brudders.

9. The phoneme /ŋ/ is usually pronounced as /n/ or /ng/, or even /nk/.

from: Bernard Smith/ Leaner English 🙂



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