Investigating Gender Differences in Iranian EFL Learners' Rounded Vowels
Keywords:Gender differences, English round vowels, Iranian EFL learners' speech, first formant (F1), second formant (F2), acoustic phonetics, rounded vowels
The present study investigated the gender differences in producing all English rounded vowels /u:/, /ɔ:/, /ʊ/ and /o/ in Iranian EFL learners' speech in comparison with native ones. Sixty Iranian EFL learners including 30 males and 30 females were selected as the participants of this study. Oxford proficiency test (OPT, 2001) was conducted in order to ensure the learners were truly homogenous with regard to their English proficiency level. All learners were right-handed, Persian monolingual native speakers with no brain injuries, hearing or visual problems that interfered with their performance in the test. Four words containing English round vowels with CVC syllable structure were selected and put inside the carrier sentence ''Say......please''. In fact, each learner uttered the carrier sentences separately. Via PRAAT software (win 64), the voices of the participants were recorded and analyzed for obtaining the first and the second formants (F1 and F2) of each vowel. The obtained data from male and female speeches were compared to each other to find their differences. The results showed in F2 values, there were gender differences considering the consonantal context. This study demonstrated that for males, the degree of backness of vowel /u:/ was less than that of vowel /ɔ:/, but for females it was vice versa. For both vowels, male's mean F1 was lower than female's mean F1 and male's mean F2 was higher than female's mean F2. The present study showed gender differences in producing English rounded vowels. So, the results can be used in classes which contain only one gender. The findings of this study can bring about some pedagogical implications for teaching English diphthongs, triphthongs and English rounded vowels.
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