Pronunciation is an aspect of verbal communication which makes the communication more attractive and effective. Pronunciation plays a vital role in the sound system of any language. When the sound system of second language is different as compared to the first language, the learners find difficulty in pronouncing the sounds of second language. They tend to pronounce the sounds of second language the way they pronounce those sounds in their first language.
The aim of this study was to know the difficulties faced by Masters' level students studying in University of the Punjab in articulation of diphthongs of English language and to find out the influence of first language sound to the second language. The related literature on Urdu diphthongs and on English diphthongs was reviewed. For this research, respondents were asked to read a paragraph containing eight diphthongs of English language in five different words. To draw more reliable results a list of eighty words having each diphthong in ten words was also given to the respondents to read. In connected speech, the speakers sometimes ignore the standard pronunciation but in isolated words they are more careful about the pronunciation. To know whether the respondents know the standard pronunciation of English diphthongs or not, the paragraph and isolated words helped to draw the reliable results. The paragraph and list of words was checked and approved by the supervisor of this research.
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The sample was drawn within the population by adopting multistage cluster sampling to generalize the results of this study. Total sample size was 100.
The researchers analyzed the data by using SPSS 16.0 version computer software and results were interpreted to achieve the objective. Percentage, chi-test and cross-tab test was applied. The results showed that the participants were having difficulty in pronouncing English diphthongs. The analysis of second research question showed that the non-standard pronunciation of diphthongs is mostly due to first language influence. The diphthongs that are not found in English were more problematic for the participants to pronounce.
The result of chi-test showed that the participants are aware of the standard pronunciation of diphthongs specially of ending diphthongs. The weak association between the pronunciation of diphthongs in connected speech and isolated words revealed that the participants know the standard pronunciation of diphthongs but they are not careful while reading the paragraph and were using equivalents
On the basis of this study some of the conclusions were derived:
It was observe that most of the diphthongs were having non-standard pronunciation when pronounced by the participants of this study.
From the demographic data it was observed that the students who studied IPA chart in their academic career were having standard pronunciation of English.
The students whose medium of instruction was English were having better pronunciation of diphthongs as compared to the others who did not.
The students of department of English Language & Literature and the students of department of ELT & Linguistics were having standard pronunciation of English. The main reason for this is they listen to the standard pronunciation of English from audio dictionaries, movies and by using transcription of English phonemes.
The students of Faculty of Science & Engineering were having standard pronunciation ratio more as compared to the students of Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. The demographic data showed that the medium of instructions of the participants from Faculty of Science & Engineering was English. Their others courses at Master's level are also in English. They have more exposure to the language and sounds of English than the Arts students that is why they are having better ratio of standard pronunciation as compared to the students of Arts who are not having appropriate exposure to the second language.
From the analyzed data and review of related learning it was observed that the main cause of non-standard pronunciation of participants is the influence of first language of the learners. The diphthongs that are not found in Urdu language are mispronounced by the participants. The participants used equivalents of these diphthongs into their first language resulting in non-standard pronunciation of English diphthongs.
From the chi-test and cross-tab test it was observed that there is no significant association between the pronunciation of diphthongs when pronounced in connected speech and in isolated words. It revealed that most of the participants who pronounced diphthongs incorrectly in connected speech knew the standard pronunciation of English but because they are in the habit of using Urdu diphthongs, they take the pronunciation of English diphthongs as Urdu ones hence pronounce these diphthongs incorrectly.
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The following recommendations are suggested on the basis on conclusion and the weakness.
For second language learners it is important to have an exposure to standard pronunciation of the language.
It is also important for the institutions that there should be intensive practice of phonemes that do not occur in the first language of the learners.
Explanation of IPA chart will also help the learners to know the standard pronunciation of second language and to know how to use phonetic symbols to distinguish between different phonemes.
Better education and examination policies that meet the needs of the learners would surely help them in their communication needs, hence it will help for the betterment of their pronunciation.
In academic institutions, the stress on speaking skill along with other three skills would help the learners to have better proficiency of second language as well as better pronunciation.
Syllabus in the institutions should be designed according to the modern concept of teaching.
Suitable audio-visual aids will help the students in speaking skill and pronunciation activities.
The stress should not only be on form rather than on functions of second language.
Evaluation of speaking skill in examination system would help the students to check their speaking skills and pronunciation of second language.