The Influence of Educational Background on Malaysian Chinese Learners’ Mispronunciation of /l/ and /r/

Souba Rethinasamy, Cecilia Xin-Li Chen, Ruey Shing Soo


Maintaining intelligibility among interlocutors while communicating in English remains a challenging task for many second or foreign language learners. This problem is attributable to many reasons, including learners’ obstacles with pronunciation. The recurring report of Chinese learners having incomprehensible pronunciation of /l/ and /r/ in English words has engendered debate on various factors underlying the problem. Despite the extensive discussion of this issue, previous studies had overlooked educational background as a potential factor which could affect learners’ pronunciation. Thus, this study investigated mispronunciations of /l/ and /r/ among Malaysian Chinese undergraduates vis-à-vis their educational background, namely Chinese-educated (CE) and non-Chinese educated (NCE). The study objectives were to determine CE and NCE learners’ frequency of mispronunciation of English words containing /l/ and /r/ according to phoneme, phoneme position, and mispronunciation characteristics. To this end, a quantitative approach was employed to conduct the study. For data collection, two pronunciation word lists covering /l/ and /r/ in initial, medial, and final positions were provided to 20 CE and NCE undergraduates respectively for assessment purposes. The participants’ pronunciations were recorded, transcribed and transformed into numerical data. The results of the study reveal that Chinese-educated Malaysian undergraduates tend to mispronounce English words containing /l/ in medial and final positions. Furthermore, words containing /l/ in the medial position tend to be substituted; while words with /l/ in the final position tend to be deleted or vocalized by the students. The findings of this study provide valuable insights into the teaching and learning of English pronunciation.

Full Text:



World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders. If you have any questions, please contact: