Thaksin University, Thailand
With English being considered as lingua franca in various settings, there is a great need for mutual intelligibility among participants in different discourses. While comprehensibility accounts for the difficulty listeners experience when understanding speech, intelligibility refers to “how much of the speech is actually understood by interlocutors” (Munro, 2011, p. 9), making both comprehensibility and intelligibility necessary ingredients for successful communication. Situated in Eckman’s (2006) Markedness Theory and Flege’s (1995) Speech Learning Model (SLM), this study aims to investigate whether a relationship exists between the perception and production of fricatives by sixty Thai learners who were taking English as their specialization at a university in Thailand. While most studies exploring the connection between perception and production employed word lists as instruments, the present investigation is different in that it considers the use of sentence level prompts (in context), along with the more commonly used word lists (in isolation) since the participants were at the undergraduate level and were exposed to longer classroom discourse in English. The results show a positive weak correlation between the variables in both isolated and in context settings. If the Thai learners could perceive the fricative sounds, they may or may not be able to produce the fricative sounds accurately. The same is true that if they can produce the fricative sounds, it does not necessarily mean that they can perceive the sounds correctly in isolated or in context settings. Pedagogical implications such as training, out-of-class activities, and materials development, are then drawn from the findings.
intelligibility, perception and production, fricatives