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Japanese Learners’ Recognition of English Vowel Phonemes

Sato, Akihiko (2019) Japanese Learners’ Recognition of English Vowel Phonemes. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This research will be informative for the English language education of Japanese learners from the standpoint of phonology and phonetics. Japanese learners struggle to recognise English sounds accurately due to the substantial differences that exist between the Japanese and English languages. Notably, certain English phonemes are challenging for them to perceive accurately because of the difference in the number of vowels in the two languages: while there are 5 in Japanese, there are as many as 20 in English. In this research, therefore, the issue of erroneous recognition of English vowel phonemes by Japanese leaners of English (JLEs) is focussed on. Despite the perceived effectiveness of using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) for teaching English sounds to Japanese learners in the past, its success was never objectively demonstrated and has been mostly overlooked following the elimination of compulsory instruction in the IPA from the official teaching guideline in 1969. The focal point of this research, therefore, focusses on Japanese learners’ current approach to the IPA. Their knowledge of the IPA and their successful recognition of English vowel phonemes assisted by practice using the IPA are discussed and empirically assessed with statistical analyses. Three papers for academic journals are compiled in this thesis, and four chapters have been added. Research into the framework of this series of studies was initiated in 2014, and several experiments were conducted in 2016 and 2017 with approximately 350 university students. Through these studies I find that the recognition of all English vowels is not uniformly difficult for Japanese learners and that some negative factors influence their judgement to accurately identify the sounds of English vowels. I have further demonstrated that explicit instruction with the IPA is effective for Japanese learners’ recognition of English vowel phonemes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Akihiko Sato
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2019 09:25
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2019 09:25
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26175

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