The English Vowel Schwa as a Difficulty to Intermediate EFL Students: Evidence from Phonemic Transcription
Keywords:English as a Foreign Language (EFL), error analysis, phonemic transcription, schwa
This article presents a study that seeks to investigate whether or not the English neutral vowel schwa (henceforth – schwa) poses difficulties to a group of intermediate students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) whose first language is Norwegian (further – participants). The study involves a corpus of phonemic transcriptions written by the participants in the series of 4 tasks. In the corpus, schwa-related errors are identified in accordance with the methodological approach formulated by Mompean and Fouz-González (2021). The results reveal several substitutions of schwa for /e/, /ɒ/, /æ/, /ɑ:/, and /ɜː/. These findings correlate with the results of the post-hoc procedure that involves the identification and classification of schwa-related errors in the participants’ speech in English. Further, the findings are discussed from the vantage point of schwa as a difficulty to intermediate EFL learners.
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