A contrastive analysis of English and Igbo syllable structures and its teaching implications


  • Osondu C. Unegbu Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, Kano


This work investigated the differences in the syllable structures of English and Igbo languages, and their pedagogic implications. This was achieved by administering an oral interview test on Twenty five (25) respondents randomly selected from Comprehensive Development Secondary School Owerri. A passage was given to them to read, and emphasis was on auditory perception of sounds in relation to the English syllable structure. From the passage, ten (10) tasks (words), which comprise initial and final consonant clusters of two to four, were singled out for observation. It was found out that consonant clusters, whether initial or final, present a major learning difficulty to Igbo secondary school learners in their internalization of the English syllable structure. This was evident from the result obtained which is 7%. It is interesting to note that as the clusters increase from two, three to four, so the level of difficulty in pronouncing the words. That is why number 6 task /stju:dnts/, which has the highest number of clusters (three initial and four final), constituted the highest level of difficulty. The behaviorist theoretical framework which emphasizes learning through habit formation brought about by imitation, reinforcement and repetition as propounded by scholars like Skinner, Corder, etc. was adopted. The research concluded that English language teachers in Igbo land and elsewhere should engage in a Contrastive Linguistic Analysis (CLA) in order to improve on their teaching. Secondly, the Government and other stakeholders in education should encourage the production of pedagogical grammar books, which are based on a thorough CLA of the Native Languages (NLs) and the Target Languages (TLs). This will not only improve pedagogy, but help English as Second Language Learners (ESL) learners/teachers to overcome most teaching and learning difficulties.