ENGLISH LEXICAL STRESS ASSIGNMENT BY EFL LEARNERS: INSIGHTS FROM A VIETNAMESE CONTEXT

Duong Minh Tuan

Abstract


In English, the accurate assignment of lexical stress is of paramount importance in attaining good pronunciation and speech intelligibility; however, it is by no means an easy task for many EFL learners, especially those whose first languages have no system of word stress. Vietnamese learners, for example, often face problems with the placement of lexical stress as their mother tongue is not a stress language but a tonal one. The current study was conducted to yield more insights into Vietnamese learners’ acquisition of word stress in this regard. Specifically, it was conducted to investigate (1) the extent to which Vietnamese learners were able to assign stress patterns in English multisyllabic words and (2) whether there was a statistically significant correlation between their competence in recognizing and in producing English lexical stress. Data for the study were gained from 45 elementary EFL learners studying English at a foreign language center in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The process of data collection started with assignment tests (i.e., a recognition test and a production test), followed by a comparative analysis of the participants’ performance on these tests and subsequently a retrospective interview. The results indicated that the participants’ overall level of competence in assigning stress in English words was just above average. It was also found that the participants performed the recognition test better than they did with the production test, and there were several factors contributing to this inconsistency. A positive correlation between the participants’ recognition and production of lexical stress patterns was also observed in this research.

 

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lexical stress assignment, word stress, recognition, production

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