The IUP Journal of English Studies
Perception of Phonological Assimilation and Elision by ESL Learners and Its Impact on Listening Proficiency

Article Details
Pub. Date : March, 2019
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES41903
Author Name : Karina Vidal
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : English Studies
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 19



This paper studies the relationship between the perception of phonological assimilation and elision and ESL (English as a Second Language) listening proficiency. It is believed that variation in word-final consonants tends to cause ESL learners problems with word recognition in connected speech. However, research findings do not conclusively support the relationship between this phenomenon and ESL listening success, since, among other things, the range of mechanisms analyzed has not been carefully controlled. This research was intended to throw light on the relationship between two processes of reduction-namely, assimilation and elision-and ESL listening proficiency. One hundred sixty-nine first-year undergraduate English Studies students and twenty undergraduate native speakers participated in this study. They were asked to discriminate thirty-two elided and thirty assimilated forms from their canonical counterparts. The results revealed that recognition of assimilated forms does not seem to be related to ESL listening success. Recognition of elided forms, however, was found to be weakly related to ESL listening proficiency. The results showed that release burst of first word final stop appeared to contribute to successful discrimination between forms. The results also revealed that ESL learners recognized more easily those instances of assimilation and elision in which the word final consonant was /t/ rather than /d/. On the basis of these findings, implications for the teaching and learning of ESL listening and reduced forms are drawn.


The neglect listening usually suffers in most language programs can be explained by the difficulty of training students in this skill (Buck 2003; Chaudron 1995). In recent years, there has been a tendency to teach listening through tasks which encourage learners to focus on top-down information to compensate for decoding problems (Field 2009). There is no denying that contextual evidence, world knowledge, and topic knowledge play a crucial role in listening comprehension. However, decoding problems cannot always be resolved by resorting to top-down processing strategies, as research into spoken discourse has revealed (Vidal 2003). In this respect, Celce-Murcia, Brinton, and Goodwin (2000) state that the ability to segment and decode speech depends, to a great extent, on the listener's ability to exploit knowledge of the sound system.


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