Aspects of connected speech: An exploratory study on ESL student-teachers of the Higher Teachers Training College Maroua (Published)
This work aims at assessing student-teachers’ ability to handle features of connected speech in listening and in transcribing sentences with some instances. The sample comprised 45 participants: Twenty-seven (27) level five (including those for in-service training), and eighteen (18) level three student-teachers. The former are in their final year to obtain grade II teacher’s diploma and the latter are in their final year to obtain grade I teacher’s diploma. They were subjected to a text of twenty (20) pre-designed sentences with varying number of connected speech processes. The text was used for two purposes; first, it served as a passage for connected speech dictation, and second, it was used as a text for the transcription task. This served as an indirect way to gauge their abilities to understand and to teach the aspects under study. The results showed that the participants have a lot of difficulties with lexical segmentation due to the phenomena that blur the word boundaries; they skipped some words and some sentences due to the listening difficulties. In the transcription task, the participants produced less than 50% percent of the overall proposed instances of each feature of connected speech. The various group performances were far below average. The findings call for actions to ensure the readiness of English language teachers to handle authentic English in classrooms.
The Relationship between English Language Proficiency Level and Comprehension of Connected Speech Aspects (Published)
Despite the fact that connected speech features strongly affect the perception and comprehension of natural spoken language, they have not received proper attention in academic studies. Consequently, little research has focused on the effect of connected speech features on the listening comprehension EFL and ESL learners. The present study tries to fill this gab as it investigates whether the presence of connected speech influences Saudi EFL learners’ listening comprehension. Furthermore, the present study attempts to find out if there is a relationship between the learners’ familiarity with aspects of connected speech on the one hand and their English proficiency on the other hand. To achieve the objectives of the study, sixty-four English majors take part in this study. The participants were classified into three groups (i.e. High- proficiency, mid- proficiency and Low-proficiency) according to the scores obtained in the English Language Proficiency Test. The research instrument was a dictation test consisting of 25 digitally recorded sentences that include the five targeted aspects of connected speech. The participants took a dictation test which asked them to write down the sentences read with and without connected speech. Independent t-test results showed that the presence of connected speech features significantly affected the subjects’ listening comprehension. The presence of connected speech imposes a negative impact upon listening comprehension by the Saudi learners of English. This negative influence was observed in all groups of different proficiency levels. In addition, the results indicated that the high-proficiency level students performed significantly better than the mid- proficiency level students. Low-proficiency level students often lagged far behind. Further, the indication garnered from t-test results revealed that there were interactions between the proficiency level of the students and the types of connected speech patterns. In other words, the higher students’ proficiency level was, the better they could detect the connected speech patterns used in the natural speech flow. Last, elision and intrusion proved to be the most difficult aspects of connected speech for all the participants