predicted remained highly influential for quite a long time. Having realized that the strong claims of contrastive analysis were too idealistic and beyond the reach, Wardhaugh (1970) proposed a more tenable weak version of Contrastive Analysis. The weak version starts with the evidence provided by linguistic interference and uses such evidence to explain the similarities and differences between the two systems (Wardhaugh, 1970, p.15). In this version, errors are studied after they have been made by second language learners and the Contrastive Analysis explains why those errors have occurred. In view of the shortcoming of the contrastive analysis hypothesis, its proponents were gradually forced to tone down the unrealistic claims of their discipline and make less ambitious ones. Oller and Ziahosseiny (1970) from the results of a study that they have conducted, they proposed a third version of Contrastive Analysis (moderate version). The basis of their analysis was the spelling errors made by some foreign learners of English with different L1 backgrounds. This version has been defined as a specialization of the principle of ‘Stimulus Generalization’. Therefore, whenever patterns are minimally distinct in form or meaning in one or more systems, confusion may result.
They concluded that Farsi learners of English make fewer errors on the English items that are different from their L1 due to the fact that they pay more attention to different items, which is the motivational factor in learning, other than those that are similar. As a result of this, Oller and Ziahosseiny claimed that the moderate version has more power to explain as it centers on the nature of human learning more than the other two versions whose focus is only on the contrast between the two languages. Table below shows these three versions.
The change that has to take place in the language behavior of a foreign language student can be equated to the differences between the structure of the students’ native language and culture and that of the target language and culture.
Linguistic difficulties are explained a posteriori instead of being predicted a prior, to understand the sources of error by utilizing and intuitively contrasting a general knowledge of L1 and L2.
“The categorization of abstract and concrete patterns according to their perceived similarities and differences is the basis for learning; therefore, wherever patterns are minimally distinct in form or meaning in one or more systems, confusion may result.” (Oller & Ziahosseiny, 1970).
Figure3. Three versions of Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis
2.16. Developing Listening by Teaching Pronunciation
Pronunciation is not only about the mouth, but also the ears. And, with English being a global language, the ears must learn to be flexible in order to make sense of all those varieties of spoken English out there. Recalling that the difficulty in listening comprehension might stem from pronunciation, it would be wise to develop listening by raising language learners‟ pronunciation awareness (Ak, 2012; 34). The previous literature suggests such relation; for instance, according to Brown (1977), English language learners going to Britain to study have problems understanding the professors‟ lectures resulting from the incompetency in pronunciation and failure to convert meaning. Rixon (1986) lists the problem areas stemming from pronunciation in listening comprehension as (1) the difference between English sounds and spelling, (2) The sound changes in connected speech, (3) Rhythm of English, and (4) different pronunciation patterns of same sounds. She suggests that training in these problem areas can promote development of listening comprehension.
Field (2003) also presents a similar list in which learners: a) may not recognize a phonetic variation of a known word, b) may know the word in reading but not in spoken vocabulary, and c) may not segment the word out of connected speech. He suggests that in order to solve these problems, awareness raising activities and focused practice should be employed. Gilbert (1995) asserts that, learners complain that native speakers speak too fast, but this problem arises because learners fail to grasp grammatical and discourse signals because they do not receive training regarding the reduction or intonation patterns of English language speech. Morley (1991) emphasizes that listening tasks based on speech-pronunciation would foster comprehension of listening by developing learners‟ discrimination skills. Nunan and Miller (1995) also believe that listening can be developed by pronunciation. In their book showing new ways of teaching listening, they suggest several pronunciation activities in order to improve listening skills. Developing listening is an ongoing pursuit of researchers and practitioners all around the world in ELT field. Although the literature suggests the possibility of developing EFL listening comprehension skills with pronunciation awareness, there have been very few research studies investigating the effect of pronunciation on listening comprehension.
This chapter reviewed the relevant literature about possibility of developing listening comprehension with the help of pronunciation awareness training. The places of listening and pronunciation in the ELT field were discussed respectively. In addition, the interrelation of both skills was highlighted. The previous literature suggests such relation between listening and pronunciation, but there is limited research on the topic; in fact, the relation has not yet been statistically proven. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the effects of contrastive based pronunciation training on listening comprehension skills. Next chapter will present the methodology employed in the study providing detailed information about setting and participants, data collection including the data collection procedures, and the instruments and materials, and data analysis procedures.
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY
This chapter presents information about the methodology of this study in four sections. In the first section, the setting and participants including the recruitment of the participants are described. In the second section, data collection is explained, including data collection procedures which give detailed information about the procedures before the data collection period, such as the consent of the institutions; and the instruments and materials which give detailed information about developing and piloting the instruments. In the third section data analysis procedures are explained.
3.1. The design of the study
The ultimate goal of any investigation is to conduct research that will allow the researcher to show the relationship among variables. However, limiting research to the true experimental only in social science in general, and applied linguistics in particular is not realistic. The reason is that in these areas, the researchers deal with the most complicated human behaviors, i.e., language learning. In much of research, it seems quiet unlikely that researchers can follow a true experimental method. In addition, it is also difficult to carefully define many of the numerous variables involved in most applied linguistics research. Furthermore, it is impossible to ask a group of students to serve as a control group if it means depriving them of valued instruction or expecting them to waste their time for the sake of research. Because of this and many other limitations, conducting true experimental research may not be possible and in this study the researcher used quasi experimental one.
The purpose of this quasi-experimental study is to investigate the effect, if any, of contrastive analysis based pronunciation teaching on listening comprehension skill of Upper Intermediate Level English as foreign language (EFL) students. In this respect, the overarching research question addressed in this study is:
• Does contrastive analysis based pronunciation teaching have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ listening comprehension?
To answer the above mentioned question, one experimental (EG) and one control group (CG) were selected randomly based on their performance on OPT test. Then a pre-test (T1) ran with both groups. In the second step, the experimental group received treatment (X) for four weeks. After this step, a post test (T2) on listening comprehension was conducted again to see if there is improvement. Schematic representation of the design (Figure4) is as follow:
Figure4. Schematic representation of the design
3.2. Setting and Participants
The present study was conducted at Iran Language Institute (ILI) in Rasht, Iran with two classes of upper Intermediate students with 20 learners in each class studying English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The participants of this study were all female native speakers of Farsi. After the enrollment procedures, in June, students take a proficiency exam that is developed by the testing unit (with the assistance of all instructors), and are placed into levels according to their test results. Iran Language Institute’s program offers 3 hours of lesson a week. The institute follows integrated skills approach. Listening, reading, writing and speaking skills are practiced with particular book designed for the ILI. The classes are equipped with technological devices and the teachers make use of these devices constantly. Each semester includes 21 sessions a total of 10 weeks. Students have 3 scores: (1) class activity score (2) written score (includes testing grammar, listening, vocabularies, reading comprehension, and writing rules) (3) final score which is the average score of the first and