VietTESOL International Convention, VietTESOL International Convention 2019

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EFL Freshman Students’ Difficulties with Phoneme-Grapheme Relationships
Reima Saado Al-Jarf

Last modified: 2019-08-06


Many Saudi students learning English have problems in connecting spoken phonemes with written graphemes. To identify EFL students’ difficulties with phoneme-grapheme correspondences, a sample of freshmen students took a listening-spelling test. Misspellings were classified into phonological and orthographic errors. In phonological errors the misspelled word does not sound like the target word because the whole word, a consonant, a vowel, a syllable, a prefix, a suffix, a grapheme or a grapheme cluster was not heard at all, was misheard, was added, or reversed with another. In orthographic errors the misspelled word sounds like the written target word but the written form or grapheme used does not correspond with the target word or target grapheme. Results showed that 63% of the misspellings were phonological, and 37% were orthographic. The subjects had more phonological problems with whole words but more orthographic problems with graphemes. Some of the phonological problems that the subjects had were: Inability to hear and discriminate all or most of the phonemes in a word and inability to discriminate vowel phonemes and hear the final syllable or suffix as in especially (especially), anther (another), hell (hill), caple (cable), thery (ferry), transportion (transportation). They mostly had orthographic problems with vowel digraphs, double consonants, silent vowels and consonants, and homophones as in cheepest (cheapist), relativs (relatives), midle (middle), whole (hole), exlelant (excellent), braek (break), neaght (neat). A simplification process seems to affect students’ spelling errors. A detailed account of EFL students’ phonological and orthographic errors in spelling will be given.


phonological errors; orthographic errors; misspellings