In expression the major difficulty was in the structure of the sentences (English and Dhivehi have different positions of adverbs and particles). Not less serious difficulty was to distinguish between the meanings of modal verbs (can, could, may, might, must) and choosing the right modal verb to convey a certain meaning. Understanding check.. The ratio of the errors observed is the following: Conceptual structures: 12,9% The meaning of the dialogue: 27,2% Idiomatic expression: 49,6% Notions: 10,2% Retelling. The calculation of errors was made. The ratio of expression errors observed is the following: The usage of the modal verbs: 46%
The structure of the sentences: 54% The analysis of the students oral responses has shown that the main difficulty is caused by similarity of the sounds of English and Dhivehi. These similarities are at the root of the majority of the errors: phonetic and phonemic (75,9%). Students often confused the pronunciation of their native sounds with the similar sounds of the foreign language. Also students under-differentiated or over-differentiated phonemes and clusters of phonemes of the foreign language (for example vary was pronounced as [veari], cat as [ket], our as [a:r], building as [bildin], leisure as [lezar], my as [mi]).
The intonation patterns of Dhivehi affected those of the English language, and as a result students pronounced general, alternative, and tag questions; rising and falling tones in a wrong way. However, specific English sounds which did not have analogy in Dhivehi [? ] and [O] were also pronounced with mistakes: [? ] as [dh] and [O] as [t]. The similarity of the sounds of English and Dhivehi as the main cause of pronunciation errors is supported by the theory of similarity.
On the basis of the comparison between the two phonological systems of English and Dhivehi it can be concluded that Maldivian students will make mistakes or at least experience difficulty while learning the following sounds of the English language: As a result of sound similarities, students pronounce [w] as [v], [z] was sometimes confused with [s]: [mesar], The written responses have shown that students experience difficulties of understanding the concepts created on the other socio-linguistic background. Thus, idiomatic expression Lets hit the road! was not understood by nearly a half of the participants.
The dialogue presented at the end of the chapter appeared to be complicated for the students because it contains the elements of the English humour and irony. Also, the foreign notions (Helping Hand club, Old peoples home) produced by the English social background were understood with the references to Maldivian reality. The retelling of the text has demonstrated that students are apt to build sentences and position words according to their native language. The usage of modal verbs was difficult for the students because of the difference in the expression of modality in Dhivehi.
On the findings of the study the following recommendations can be given: Pronunciation: Vowel quantity. The length of English vowels is semantically important. Moreover, the long English vowels are very long in comparison with average vowel lengths in other languages. (Walker 2001) In this way, a learner should emphasize the distinction between long and short vowels, and make it clear in speech. Analogous sounds. Teacher should pay attention of the students while learning the sounds that these sounds should be distinguished from the analogous native ones.
Students should compare the parallel sounds of the both languages and observe their differences in pronunciation while reading English and Dhivehi words; Consonant conflations. When a consonant of English does not occur in a learners mother tongue, the missing sound is substituted with something similar from the speakers first language. (Walker 2001) Learners should avoid substituting English consonants with the similar sounds of their mother tongue, for it may lead to a serious confusion and misunderstanding between the representatives of different nations.
Phonetic realizations. A leaner should not use approximate sounds in his/her speech, which are taken from their mother tongue and close to those ones required by English pronunciation. As it is pointed out in the article Pronunciation for International Intelligibility (2001) authored by Robin Walker: some such approximations may lead to unintelligibility, as with/B/, the fricative sound the Spanish use for the b in cabin, or /F/, the sound they use for the g in again or a girl. (Walker 2001) Consonant cluster simplification.
While pronouncing English consonant clusters, foreign learners tend either to deleting one of the consonant or to adding a vowel to the consonants. A teacher should always correct this mistake, for it makes the speech of students difficult to understand. Prominence and weak forms. It concerns English weak forms and heavily reduced unstressed vowels. The difficulty for a learner here in not only to pronounce them correctly, but to understand the native speaker, who speaks fluently and uses them more freely. According to Lingua Franca Core, learners frequently deem native speakers as harder to understand than non-natives.
Ability to deal receptively with weak-forms and other connected speech modifications is a goal for all who will come into contact with native speakers. (Walker 2001) Tone groups. A students intelligibility can be seriously affected by his/her not proper usage of tone groups, inability to divide the stream of speech into meaningful parts. Such problem may lead to breaks in speech in unexpected places, reducing intelligibility, whilst on the other, it reduces planning time for the speaker, which will inevitably lead to new errors of all types.
(Walker 2001) Nuclear/contrastive stress but not tone. Nuclear/contrastive stress is a unique characteristic of the English language. The changes of the prominent stress may create new words and new meanings. Scientists emphasize that to put the main stress on the wrong word in an utterance, will direct the listeners attention to the wrong place, leading to confusion, whether the listener is a native speaker or not. (Walker 2001)