Grapho-Phonic Discrepancy in English and the Problem of Vowel Production by Yoruba Speakers of English as a Second Language
Dare Owolabi

This study examined Yoruba speakers of English as a second language to discover their recognition of some vowels and their production as a result of the inconsistencies between spelling and sounds in the English language as opposed to what is obtainable in the Yoruba language. The study is an empirical one, designed to identify the problem of these learners of English as a second language after watching similar category of students commit the same errors over a period of time. Forty respondents, randomly selected, from a class of fifty seven students on a sandwich program, were used for this study. The exercise took place in a fairly furnished language laboratory, with a laboratory technician in attendance as a colistener. Each of the forty students was made to read a specially prepared passage laced with specific words to discover how they pronounce some vowel sounds in different word environments in the English language. The speech production of each respondent was recorded by the researcher to discover how these sounds are pronounced in view of this grapheme/phoneme disparity in the English language. The results show that the subjects, who are teacher trainees and expected to be models cannot pronounce some of the sounds correctly, especially some words containing the letter ā€˜iā€™ in words like hide, ride and rid; in the words kite and kit and in the words bite and bit. The same problem was also noticed in the ā€˜oā€™ letter in woman and women. The study concludes that because there is no one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds in English as it is the case in the Yoruba language; there is a problem of production of some vowel sounds in English by Yoruba speakers of English as a second language. This is as a result of transfer of their native language pronunciation in Yoruba to the English language in some words, thus leading to inappropriate pronunciation. It is recommended that those employed to teach English are qualified and those already on the field should be made to undergo training to make them more efficient on the job, considering the place of the English language in the world.

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