This thesis investigated the pronunciation problems of syllable initial consonant clusters in word-initial positions for adult Egyptian Students. Several previous studies explored the incorrect strategies that adults used in order to avoid the difficulty of initial consonant cluster pronunciation. Building on the findings of the previous research, this study focused on two aspects related to initial consonant cluster pronunciation. The first aspect was related to the issue of cluster pronunciation, i.e. whether all initial consonant clusters have the same difficulty level or not. Since the EFL teacher is the basic source of input and main pronunciation model for EFL students, the second point of focus in the present study was the extent to which EFL teachers were aware of initial consonant cluster pronunciation errors. Consequently, there were two different groups of participants in this study. The first group consisted of thirty students in the Damietta Faculty of Education whose task was to pronounce two lists of words and sentences. Each word and sentence started with an initial consonant cluster.

The second group consisted of ten teachers, and their task was to listen to the first word of each sentence and decide if it was pronounced correctly or not correctly. Moreover, they had to specify what the pronunciation error that they identified was in order to measure their awareness of initial consonant cluster problems.

The data collected were analyzed in two different ways in order to obtain reliable results. On the one hand, for the words in the beginning of sentences, three qualified raters, one native and two proficient nonnative speakers, listened to the cluster at the beginning of each word and decided if it was pronounced correctly. Then, the total of these judgements was calculated. Regarding the pronunciation of isolated words, these were analyzed and compared to a model of a native pronunciation. Through comparing these two results, a relatively stable hierarchy of initial consonant cluster pronunciation levels of difficulty was established. This hierarchy of difficulty had three main levels of difficulty with some exceptions. The easiest level was a consonant +a glide or a liquid, and the most difficult one was /s/+ a consonant or two consonants with some few exceptions.

On the other hand, the analysis of teachers' results proved that Egyptian EFL

teachers had a very low level of recognition of initial consonant cluster pronunciation errors. They paid most of their attention to other common pronunciation problems such as the wrong pronunciation of /p/and /r/. The importance of this finding relates to the fact that the teachers' inability to recognize problems in their students' pronunciation of initial consonant cluster pronunciation indicates that they would not provide the feedback necessary to help the students notice and correct their pronunciation errors. Consequently, future research is needed in linguistic and educational fields concerning the other types of consonant clusters, and the pronunciation ability and awareness of Egyptian EFL teachers.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Amira Agameya

Committee Member 1

Amira Agameya

Committee Member 2

Paul Stevens

Committee Member 3

Fred Perry

Document Type



119 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

English language

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

English language


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Call Number

Thesis 2003/23