A Study on Correlations Between the College EFL Learners’ Phonetic Level and Their Listening Comprehension: A Case Study of Arts & Sciences college, Yangtze University

Tingyi FU


Phonetics and phonology, especially pronunciation, are the basis of listening and speaking, and the reformed CET4 and CET6 in China further emphasize the importance of listening ability. Thus it is truly necessary to figure out if there is any relationship between the phonetics and listening abilities. Phonetics is among the compulsory courses at the basic stage of English teaching for English majors, whereas the non-English majors don’t take this subject. You can imagine their pronunciation. Many college English teachers have found that phonetic problems have affected the students’ English learning to a great extent. Students have been largely hindered and discouraged from pursuing accurate pronunciation and intonation. Some even have lost confidence in English learning, especially for the course of listening. In order to find out some measures to solve these problems, the writer conduct the present study on 160 sophomores who are non-English majors at Art & Science College, Yangtze University. The aims of the thesis are to investigate their pronunciation and basic phonetic knowledge. In the aspect of pronunciation, it aims to survey that the students’ pronunciation is accurate or not. The basic phonetic knowledge refers to intonation, stress, weak form and strong form of words, incomplete plosives, liaison, assimilation and so on.
Two tests are self-designed based on the materials and existing researches in this area. One test paper is phonetic test, the other is dictation test. After all the necessary statistics are collected, the SPSS is used to analyze the scores to figure out if there is correlation between students’ phonetic level and their listening abilities and then get results.
The results of the analyses show that there is correlation between the participants’ phonetic level and their listening ability, and their listening ability is closely related to their comprehensive English level. What’s more, the participants have similar mistakes and weaknesses in the phonetics, which may instruct teachers and students to some extent. Firstly, the participants are poor in distinguishing the minimum pairs of English sounds. Secondly, the participants’ are poor in the skills of reading phrases, or we can say they lack the basic knowledge of liaison, incomplete plosives, assimilation, and etc. Thirdly, although the participants have done a good job in reading sentences in the phonetic test, they have great difficulties in dictating sentences, especially long sentences.
At last, based on the research results, the present study gives some suggestions of improving students’ phonetic level and listening ability. The thesis also states its limitations and expectations for improvement.


Phonetic level; Listening ability; Correlation; Non-English majors

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/n


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