ESL Yemeni Learners’ Perceptions and Perspectives on the Importance of Learning Stress and Intonation as Supra-Segmental Features of Speech and Sound Attributes to the Process of Comprehension: A Survey Study

Ahmed M. S. Alduais, Rafiq Al-Shamiry


Purposes: To obtain Yemeni learners’ of English language perceptions and perspectives on the importance of teaching/ learning stress and intonation as supra-segmental features of speech and sound-attributes to the process of comprehension and to identify the reasons of neglecting/ avoiding the use of stress and intonation when attempting to communicate in English. Methods: The participants of this survey-study are 140 students who were enrolled in the University of IBB, Yemen as bachelor level students, in the departments of English, faculties of Arts and Education (first year: 10 Arts, 10 Education, Second year: 20 Arts, 20 Education, third year: 20 Arts, 20 Education, and fourth year: 20 Arts, 20 Education). In all levels, there was a balanced number of gender. A researcher-made questionnaire consisting of 23 items was given to the 140 participants to achieve the above objectives of the study. Results: Descriptive statistics (frequency and percentages) of the 17th version of SPSS was used to analyse the collected data. The statistical results indicated the following: 1) more than 50% of the participating students have negative attitudes towards the use of super-segmental features, 2) less than 50% have incompetent level and/or limited knowledge of the functions of suprasegmental features of speech, 3) the application of these features is limited to the classroom activities, 4) the reasons behind neglecting such features by order are: educational system, students, teachers and social situation, 5) social and personal reasons are the most discouraging factors for not applying such features of speech, and 6) frequent evaluation, labs, teachers and classmates, and society members are the proposed encouraging factors by order. Conclusions: Accentual function is not the only function of stress and intonation that relate them phonologically to the learned/acquired language. Instead, this phonological relationship is extended to semantic, morphological and syntactic functions. Because of this, it is concluded that most of the participating students are incompetent, uninterested, yet not encouraged to use such supra-segmental features of speech. Learning environment that would support the proper learning and use of these features must be considered by policy-makers and required by English language teachers.

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