Document Type : Research Paper
1 Associate professor of Yazd university
2 M.A. student of Yazd university
This study accounts for the acquisition of the consonant clusters of English syllable structures both in onset and coda positions by Persian EFL learners. Persian syllable structure is "CV(CC)", composed of one consonant at the initial position and two optional consonants at the final position; whereas English syllable structure is "(CCC)V(CCCC)". Therefore, Persian EFL learners need to resolve the conflict between what they know (L1), and what they are learning (L2). Optimality theory (Prince and Smolensky, 1993) claims that the knowledge of language consists of the universal set of structural descriptions and a language-particular ranking of constraints. It provides an explicit account for not only why learners have difficulty with specific EFL structures but also how they resolve it. 40 participants of two levels of English proficiency participated in this study. The data were collected via two tasks. The first task was a sound comprehension test and the second was a production test. The analyzed data revealed that all the learners had difficulties in performing initial consonant clusters in English; however, the lower level learners significantly had more deficiencies. It is worth mentioning that those coda clusters composed of more than two consonants are more difficult than those composed of only two consonants. This study also revealed that epenthesis was more frequent in onset positions while deletion and substitution were more frequent in coda positions. Based on the findings of the study, English instructors and material developers can estimate the degree of difficulty of consonant clusters and provide the needed time and material for teaching them.