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An Analysis of Turkish university level EFL learners’ pronunciation of the diphthongs and triphthongs in English

Albağlar, Necmettin Anıl
The aim of this study is to investigate the development of diphthongs and triphthongs and the influence of orthography on the acquisition of the target sounds. This thesis answers three research questions regarding the pronunciation of /oʊ/, /aʊ/, /oʊǝ/ and /aʊǝ/ by Turkish EFL learners’ at different proficiency levels in English. The first research question aims to compare the pre-intermediate (PIN) and the advanced (ADV) level learners in terms of their pronunciation of the target sounds. The second one focuses on the influence of English orthography and investigates whether certain letters and letter combinations have a role in learners’ pronunciation of diphthongs and triphthongs. The last research question examines learners’ awareness of these sounds to see whether they perform better when they know that their pronunciation is being tested. Three independent recording sessions were held to answer these questions. The study finds that there is a significant difference between the PIN and the ADV groups’ pronunciation of diphthongs and triphthongs. It can be concluded that phonology acquisition is influenced by one’s proficiency level. Regarding the English orthography, the results show that the letter “w”, when it corresponds to part of a diphthong or triphthong, hinders pronunciation. Moreover, when there is one vowel letter corresponding to a diphthong or a word-final diphthong, learners tended to produce a monophthong. Learners performed better when two vowel letters corresponded to a diphthong. Finally, both groups performed better when their pronunciation was tested in isolated words, which can be related to the task itself.