Pronunciation Errors of Turkish Learners of English: Conceptualization Theory as a Teaching Method


Conceptualization, phonetic awareness, EFL pronunciation problems


Pronunciation of certain English words by Turkish English learners is a challenging task. The difficulty posed by pronunciation is closely related to little exposure to interaction with native speakers, distinctive phonological system of L1 as in Turkish, a shallow orthographic language. In the literature, it is claimed that most of the pronunciation problems stem not from physical articulatory but from cognitive causes. In other words, the problem is not that the person cannot physically make the individual sounds, but that they do not conceptualize the sounds appropriately or discriminate them, organize them in their minds and manipulate them as required for the sound system of English (Fraser, 2001). This study attempts to examine oft-cited sounds such as Schwa (Ə), Voiced and voiceless Th (/ð/-/θ/) and ng (/ŋ/) sound. The data were collected from 24 adult EFL students. Each student was given 10 words from schwa, th and ng sounds respectively. Their pronunciations were recorded and transcribed through IPA alphabet and compared with the phonetic transcription in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary 3rd Edition. It was found that Turkish foreign language learners of English have serious difficulties in pronouncing schwa, th and ng sounds. The study suggests that, in order to facilitate the pronunciation of these sounds, the students could be trained through conceptualization methodology, which helps learners to form an idea or principle about what is to be learnt.