The impact of suprasegmental-based instruction on improving the speech production and perception of EFL learners in Saudi Arabia

  • Ibrahim Alturki

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of suprasegmental-based instruction on improving the speech production and perception of EFL learners in Saudi Arabia. In particular, the study investigated the impact of suprasegmental-based instruction on students’ spontaneous speech production and reading aloud, as well as their listening perception abilities. It also investigated the opinions of the participants towards this type of instruction when learning English pronunciation in a Saudi Arabian context. The study involved 32 Saudi male students learning English as a foreign language (EFL) at a private English teaching academy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For the purpose of this study, two intermediate level classes, taught by the same teacher, were involved as an experimental and a control group. The experimental group participated in a four-week intensive course on English pronunciation, with a focus on the suprasegmental features of the language. The course comprised a 40-minute session included as part of the students’ regular two-hour class. The control group, instead, only participated in their regular two-hour class with no intervention.
    The study adopted a quasi-experimental design, with a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses. The data were collected using pre- and post- speech production tests (spontaneous speech and reading aloud tasks), which were rated by 11 native listeners and also analysed acoustically using Praat software. In addition, the participants undertook pre- and post- listening perception tests (word and intonation identification tasks). The performance of the experimental and control groups was analysed quantitatively using paired and independent sample t-tests and one-way ANOVA, and effect size (Cohen’s d) to assess the impact of teaching suprasegmental features on the students’ performance and in comparison, with the performance of the control group. Furthermore, an end of course questionnaire was given to the students in the experimental group, as well as to their teacher, to elicit their feedback on the suprasegmental-based course. Classroom observation was also conducted by the researcher to assess the application of the suprasegmental-based instruction by the teacher and to record the students’ responses to this type of instruction. The data collected from the questionnaires and the classroom observation were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively.
    The findings of the study showed that explicit instruction on suprasegmental features contributes to the improvement of both the production and the perception of speech, and in enabling learners to easily understand speech and become easily understood in English.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKate Wilson (Supervisor), Deborah Hill (Supervisor), Eleni Petraki (Supervisor), Felicia Zhang (Supervisor), Alice Richardson (Supervisor) & Emmaline Lear (Supervisor)

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