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Pronunciation of english amongst native Arabic speakers is difficult. This is due to a few different factors such as the fact that there are sounds and letters in the english language that have no representation in the Arabic language, the fact that vowels have little representation in the Arabic language, and the fact that there are several letter positions in Arabic that further confuse the pronunciation of those letters and sounds that are not represented in the Arabic language. Because of these difficulties it is important for esl teachers to spend extra time on pronunciation and intonation when teaching students whose native tongue is Arabic. The letters and sounds that do not have representation in Arabic include p, v, and ch. Because of this what is often found is that Arabic speakers will try and replace these letters with similar sounds or letters from their own language. An example would be that Arabic speakers tend to pronounce words that beginning with a p as if they began with
a b. A classic example of this would be pizza. There is no word in Arabic for pizza so instead they just use the english word but instead of pronouncing it correctly it is pronounced "bizza". The problem with this difficulty is that it leads to Arabic speakers often using words that do not exist or using the wrong word in the wrong context. Naturally this can make it difficult to understand what concept the speaker is trying to send. In a study done on Saudi Arabians learning english the biggest pronunciation mistake was found with the sound that the s makes in the words pleasure and leisure. In both the final and medial positions this sound was the most difficult for Saudis to make out. They usually replaced this sound with either the traditional z or s sounds or with the sound of "sh" (Achmad, 2011). This just an example of the most common mistake found in the study. The fact that Arabic has three different letter positions can also prove confusing for Arabic speakers when learning english as a second
language. As seen in the study done on Saudi esl learners, the mistakes that Arabic speakers make when trying to pronounce letters and sounds that have no representation in their language differ depending on where the letter is in the word. For example the sound of the s in pleasure is usually pronounced by Arabic speakers as z, s ,or sh when in the medial position but when in the final position it is pronounced as a g (Achmad, 2011). This makes the esl teacher's that much more difficult because they have to focus not only on correct one bad habit but depending on the sound or letter they have to correct several bad habits per letter. Another area that native Arabic speakers struggle with is with vowels. This is because in Arabic there is little vowel representation. Most words in Arabic are known through their context due to this. There was a study done in 1991 regarding this matter. It was geared towards reading, but Arab native speakers had a much more difficult time with vowels than the non-Arab esl students (Fender, 2008). This reading issue can be
translated into pronunciation because Arabic speakers would be likely to skip over the pronunciation of vowels and therefore mispronounce the word. There are ways that esl teachers can make these issues not as difficult for Arabic speakers. One way is to bring special attention to those sounds not represented in Arabic in the beginning of the learning process. Also using games or exercises that are designed for pronunciation or intonation. An example would be using tongue twisters. Also it is a good idea for teachers to include activities that are going to build confidence in the learner so that they feel more comfortable speaking english.
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