Introducing the IPA Symbols for English Consonant Phonemes to Bengali Learners of English and the Ensuing Challenges

Hoshain Mirza Md. Golam


Despite learning English as a compulsory subject for twelve years, Bangladeshi adult students can hardly communicate orally because of their pronunciation being very faulty. The exams never test the examinees’ ability to speak, resulting in widespread negligence towards pronunciation. If these learners ever approach the International Phonetic Alphabet as an attempt to develop a self-correcting mechanism, they show some particular tendencies. This study was carried out to determine the extent to which Bengali speaking Bangladeshi learners of English depend on English letters to read English words in IPA transcription. It also aimed to establish a hierarchy of the symbols in terms of the learners’ difficulty to master them. By employing an experimental research design as well as a questionnaire survey it was revealed that learners heavily rely on their knowledge of English letters while reading English words in transcription. It was also found out that all the IPA symbols for English consonant phonemes are not equally difficult for them to master: there is a clear hierarchy of difficulty.


IPA; Bengali speaking Bangladeshi learners; English consonant phonemes; Segmentals; Suprasegmentals; Phonemic transcription; ESL; EFL

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