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The Factor that Causing Phonological Error Made by EFL Learners

By Anugerah S. (K2210008)
Andhika O. P (K2210006)
Indria Paramita (K2210039)
Listiyanti (K2210048)

A. Introduction

Phonology is defined by Odden (2005:17) as the study of the sound systems of

language. He relates pronunciation to the foundation areas of linguistics that deal with
scientific study of the language structure, that is, phonology. In line with Odden, Forel &
Puskas (2005:3) states that phonology is concerned with how sounds function in relation to
each other in a language.
According to Richards, Platt, & Weber (1992) as cited in Tiono & Yostanto
(2008), phonology deals with two main things, phonemics, that is, the study of the distinctive
sound units, and phonetics that mainly deals with speech sounds. It should be noticed that to
the same extent as phonology, pronunciation, basically, also deals with sounds. As stated by
Brown (1992) in Tiono & Yostanto (2008), the difference is that pronunciation does not
concern with the phonemics, but it focuses mainly on phonetics.
In leraning process, The chance of error in pronounce a word might be happen in
every condition.
Dalam proses pembelajaran pasti akan terjadi sebuah error. Begitu juga dalam
mempelajari phonology. Error yg biasa terjadi dalam phonology adalah dalam pengucapan.

According to Chomsky quoted by kaswan (2010:11):”there are two kinds of errors are
competence error to the ability all native speakers have being able to understand and produce
sentences which have never heard before, Performance error refer to the actual use of the
language by individuals in speech and in writing.(


.Wherever the structure of the foreign language differs from that of the mother
tongue we can expect both difficulty in learning and error in performance where the structure
of the two language are the same, no difficulty, it can be anticipate and teaching is not
This paper is aimed to identify the factor causing phonology error made by EFL

A. Discussion


Students make some mispronunciation on several English sounds that do not

exist in Indonesian; they are [v], [θ], [ð], [ʒ], [dʒ], and [t∫] (Tiono & Yostanto, 2008).
They find that more than eighty percents of all the students made this particular
deviation (i.e. the replacement of [v] with [f]) in each of the three positions of the
occurrences. The reason behind this substitution of the sound [v] for [f] might occur
mainly due to the fact that Indonesian phonetic system does not have voiced sound in
its labiodentals fricative. Hence, most of them replaced [v] with [f] and made it to be
the only pattern of error.
Tiono and Yostanto mention that [ð] is another original English consonantal
sound that does not exist in Indonesian phonetic system. There were four deviations
made by the students in articulating [ð]. They were the replacement of [ð] with [d],
the substitution of [ð] with [t], the switching of [ð] to [θ], and the changing of [ð] with
[th]. Some of these deviations could be found in all of the three positions and some
could only be noticed in either one or two positions.
Tiono and Yostanto continue that [θ] is another consonantal sound that is
typically English sound; therefore, other languages, especially Indonesian, may not
have this exact sound in their phonetic systems [θ] was deviated into six possible
errors, from the replacement of [θ] with [t] to the deletion of [θ]. [θ] was deviated into
six possible errors, the replacement of [θ] with [t], [d], [ð], [th], [s], and the deletion of
[θ]. Some of these deviations could be found in all of the three positions and some
could only be noticed in either one or two positions.
It is clear that, as stated by Tiono and Yostanto, [t∫] also gave difficulties to
the Indonesian students since there were five deviations done by the students
regarding this particular sound: the replacements of [t∫] with [c], [t∫] with [kh], [t∫]
with [h], [t∫] with [s], and [t∫] with [∫]. Although the deviations of [t∫] were
considerably varied, none of them occurred in the final position. Hence, it is fair to
note down that [t∫] did not become a problematic sound as long as it turned up in the
final position of a word.
There are eight kinds of deviations occurred in the pronunciation of the voiced
palatal affricate sound [dʒ]. Basically, if viewed from the contrast between English
and Indonesian consonants, it can be said that the replacement of [dʒ] with [j] was the
only deviation occurred mainly due to the influence of the mother tongue, particularly
since [j] can be found only in Indonesian phonetic system. That assumption can be
taken because when the students were faced with the sounds that do not exist in their
mother tongue; they tried to find the closest sound that had the similar outcome as the
required sound. In the case of the pronunciation of [dʒ], it seems that [j] as a voiced
palatal stop has the closest similar effect as [dʒ], which is a voiced palatal affricate.
The last English consonantal sound that Tiono and Yostanto think was
problematic for the subjects as English department students was [ʒ]. In articulating
this distinct English sound, students tended to deviate it. On the whole, there were ten
deviations made by the students in articulating [ʒ]: the replacement of [ʒ] with [d], [z],
[s], [j], [t∫], [∫], [dʒ], [g], [k], and [Ø].
From those data, Tiono and Yostanto conclude that students make
pronunciation errors because some English sounds do not exist in Indonesian phonetic
In addition, according to Zhang (2009), most researchers agree that the
learner’s first language influences the pronunciation of the target language and is a
significant factor in accounting for foreign accents. Interference from the first
language is likely to cause errors in aspiration, stress, and intonation in the target
Zhang also argues that a particular sound which does not exist in the native
language can therefore pose a difficulty for the second language learners to produce
or some times to try to substitute those sounds with similar ones in their mother
tongue. But, unlike Tiono and Yostanto, he points out that these sounds include both
vowels and consonants.
In the other hand, Munro and Derwing (1999) observed that even heavily
accented speech is sometimes intelligible and that prosodic errors (i.e., errors in stress,
intonation, and rhythm) appear to affect intelligibility more than do phonetic errors
(i.e.,errors in single sounds).


B. Conclusion
The factor causing phonology error made by EFL Learner is the interference
of mother tongue. Because there are several English sounds that do not exist in
Indonesian; such as [v], [θ], [ð], [ʒ], [dʒ], and [t∫] (Tiono & Yostanto, 2008). It makes
Indonesian students difficult in pronounce. Indonesian students subtitute those sounds
with another sounds. So, they make some mispronunciation. For examples, students
replaced sound [t∫] with [c], [t∫] with [kh], [t∫] with [h], [t∫] with [s], and [t∫] with [∫].
Besides, students make some errors in aspiration, stress, and intonation in the
target language (Zhang, 2009).

Teacher should be corrected the errors more often. After teacher give the
correction, students must remember and practice it in daily life. Self-monitoring in
every student is an important step in speech process. When students have known what
their mistakes, they must keep in mind what the correct one.

N. I. Tiono, A. M. Yostanto. (2008). A Study of English Phonological Errors

Produced by English Department Students. Kata, 10 (1), 79-112.

Zhang, F. (2009). A Study of Pronunciation Problems of English Learners in China.

Asian Social Science, 5 (6), 141-146.

Forel C.A. & Puskás G. (2005). Phonetics and Phonology: Reader for First Year
English Linguistics. Oldenburg: University of Oldenburg.