The Perception of English Vowels by Kurdish EFL Learners
Keywords:EFL, English, Kurdish, Vowels, Perception
This paper investigates English vowel perception in a formal classroom setting by Central Kurdish (CK) learners of English (i.e. EFL learners at university level in The Kurdistan Region of Iraq). Ten English vowels were used as stimuli: five monophthongs with similar qualities but different quantities. The participants included 30 first year English majors. They were tested while performing a discrimination task. The task to discriminate 50 pairs of RP English vowel contrasts was an AX style task. The RP vowels differed from the CK vowels in both quality and quantity. As stated by the Perceptual Assimilation Model L2, the results demonstrated a variety of assimilation types (PAM-L2). It was more difficult to distinguish between two sets of similar vowels. Furthermore, closer vowel contrasts in the vowel space were more difficult to distinguish. To the best of our knowledge, no previous research has looked into Kurdish EFL students' perceptions of English vowels. The perception of English vowels by these Kurdish English learners mostly agreed with PAM's predictions, and the results of the discrimination task ranged from excellent to poor.
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