The production of weak forms of English function words and the training effects on ESL learners in Cameroon


This study set out to investigate the practical use of weak forms by ESL learners and to assess the extent to which they can respond to explicit teachings on this phonological aspect. From observation, the strong form of English function words features prominently in the speech productions of the population under study as opposed to the weak form. The use of all- strong- form has negative consequences on their performances. It is therefore imperative to find out whether the improper use of this phonological feature can be dealt with, and the extent to which learners can respond to explicit instructions on the aspect. The investigation targeted 20 randomly selected subjects in Lower and Upper Sixth Arts of Government Bilingual High School Maroua, Far North Region of Cameroon. They were subjected to a pre- and post- teaching reading and listening test.  The analysis of data supported by the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis, in the pre-teaching test revealed that respondents lack both theoretical and practical knowledge on the concept of weak and strong forms. However, results from the post-teaching test revealed that the informants’ performances improved significantly: they could identify and produce the right situation of occurrence of weak and strong forms in English words.  This is an indication that despite the difficulties imposed by the differences between the phonological systems of their L1 and English language, learners can perform better if they are well drilled on the use of this phonological feature.

Keywords: Stress, content words, function words, strong forms, weak forms

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 45-60 (Download PDF)

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