BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
According to Maduekwe, A.N (2011) pronunciation refers to the way or a word or a language is spoken, or the manner in which someone utters a word. By ‗pronunciation in the widest sense‘ we mean the main features that make up speech. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (2001:1130) asserts that ―to pronounce means to make the sound of a letter, word etc; especially in the correct way‖. Gadagbui (1998:14) adds that‖ a good pronunciation is the act of positioning appropriately the articulators to modify the breath stream in order to produce distinct speech sounds which are culturally and linguistically accepted‖. Pronunciation thus means the way in which a language or a particular word is pronounced or particular person‘s way of pronouncing a word, or words. Hearing is also a significant constituent of pronunciation.
Research which has shown that spelling ability is related to ability in reading, and writing, speech and composition writing. Speech problems also affect spelling achievement, with improvement in pronunciation and articulation and the development of Standard English resulting in growth in selling ability.
An insight into the pronunciation of English certainly helps the learner to understand the gap between spelling and sound system in English and to accept the arbitrariness of the language. In most cases, learning the syllabification can help the learner spell the words correctly. For example, the sound /ə/ is very common in English and is spelt in many different ways. However, as a vowel sound on its own, it is never found in stressed syllables (e.g better /bətə/, amuse
/əmuju:z/, Saturday /sætədəi/.
Pronunciation Proficiency Among Undergraduate Students
Helping students to identify the sound and produce it accurately will improve their listening skills and their pronunciation, an activitiescan be designed to help the students to recognize the stressed syllables can be used to focus on the different spelling of the schwa sound occurring so frequently in unstressed syllables.