On the Problematic Sounds of English Interfered by Shaanxi Dialect from My Students and the Analysis of Reasons


校园英语·下旬 2017年1期


【Abstract 】In my English teaching process, we may find some problematic sounds in the students pronunciation affected by our Shaanxi dialect. How does this happen and what is the deep reason for this phenomenon? Here I will analyze this with the theory of phonology. This paper aims to analyze the problematic sounds of English interfered by Shaanxi dialect and find out the reasons.

【Key words】Problematic English sounds; PhoneticsEnglish teaching; Negative transfer; Shaanxi dialect; Reasons

1. Introduction

I work in a middle school which lies in Xunyang County, Ankang City, Shaanxi Province. In our daily life, we often use Shaanxi dialect.So in my English teaching process, I find some problematic sounds pronounced by my students. They have difficulty in pronouncing some sounds. Here are some examples: [θ][s], [?][z], [r], [u][?u], [ei][en], [l][n]and so on.In this paper, we will talk the differences in these sounds. How does this happen and what is the deep reason for this phenomenon? To solve this problem, I observe my students oral English, and do some research to form this paper.

2. Characteristics of Shaanxi dialect

There is no rising tone in Shaanxi dialect, so we speak it with great fluency.There is a duration in Shaanxi dialect when we speak a word. It sounds with great fluency.There are many old time words in Guanzhong countryside, the entering tones is still exist. When Shaanxi people speak a word which initials with a vowel or a half vowel, we use “ η ”(ng)as a consonant, such as the Chinese word:愛, pronounces “ηāi” ; 安, pronounces “ηan” and so on.

3. Reasons of the Negative transfer

There are some factors that contribute to the incorrect pronunciation in English learning.

3.1 Language transfer

Second language acquisition is different from first language acquisition, because language transfer occurs all the time. It is wildly believed that the errors are more likely to take place when there was some similarity between the first and second language.

3.2 Error analysis

Through error analysis, it is likely to know whether the “old” habits of the L1 did get in the way of learning the “new” habits of the L2 or not. A learner may transfer L1 rules into the L2, may avoid using these rules, or may consciously borrow these rules in order to improve their performance. There are no dental fricatives [θ] and[?] in Shaanxi dialect, the similar sounds in Shaanxi dialect are Chinese consonant[s]、[z].

3.3 Contrastive analysis

To identify the areas of difficulty, contrastive analysis was developed, that is, by establishing the linguistic differences between the learners L1 and L2, we can predict what problems the learner of a particular L2 would face.. The sounds of stops in English([b]、[p]、[t]、[d]、[ g]、[k])are similar with Chinese consonant( b、p、t、d、g、k) when used in Shaanxi dialect. To the students it is hard to find the differences.

4. Solutions

There are some methods to get students to produce error-free utterance and to teach English pronunciation effectively.

We should often use English in our daily life to encourage students to speak. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Massive practice may help them a lot to overcome these difficulties. It s better to let students to identify or repeat the problematic sounds in similar pairs of words. Encourage students to check the pronunciation from the dictionary, rather than guess, when they are not sure about it. Wed better use immersion method in kindergarten to help them acquire English. In teaching the pair of phonemes, the teacher has to show the students how they are pronounced contrastively, like what is the position of the teeth and tongue, and how the air stream flows. We can use our modern technology equipment or methods, such as use computer to watch a video to form an English environmental, talk on line in English, imitate the teacher, tapes and English films and so on.

5. Conclusion

From the psychological point of view, consciousness raising in learning and teaching phonology becomes indispensable.There are some differences between Shaanxi dialect and English sounds.We can contrastively analyze the differences, and learn how to speak English perfectly. We should teach students some knowledge of the phonetics to help them avoid of the problematic sounds and pronounce the English words correctly.


[1]Ellis,R.(2014),Understanding Second Language Acquisition 上海外語教育出版社.

[2]George,Y.(2014),The study of language(2nd ed.),Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press&Cambridge University Press.