English Language Prosody
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English Language Prosody


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Task description

  • Compare the prosodic system of English and Arabic. 
  • Identify potential difficulties in mastering English prosody for students from this L1 background.
  • Evaluate two excerpts from English-teaching resources in terms of their effectiveness in teaching prosody.

Write your response in the form of a report.



In linguistics, prosody focuses on the elements of speech such as tone, stress, intonation and rhythm, which further contributes towards reflecting the state of emotion of the speaker. In essence, through this element of speech, the emotions which cannot be justified through the choice of vocabulary becomes evident. For the purpose of the present report, the L1 student group- Arabic students, are chosen to provide insights about the English prosodic system. It is learned that the word- sentence stress and intonation are the primary problem areas for the student, hence, the use of Gilbert' prosody pyramid and drilling technique as advocated by Yates (2009) is studied through the present research to counter these challenges.


Prosodic difficulties for ESL students 

Studies reflect that most Arabic speakers faces not only a linguistic barrier but cultural barrier in learning English language (Sonia and Lotfi, 2016). Meanwhile, most English educators fail to stress upon the pronunciation skills in the learners, and this coupled with the difference in the grammatical system becomes a problem for the new learners (Bin-Hady, 2016). Through this research the focus is driven towards reducing the prosodic gap faced by Arabic- speaker English language learners. The study provides guidelines for the educators with respect to comprehending these prosodic differences.


One of the primary challenges in terms of prosody countered by these learners is the difference in the ways sound of some words and letters pronounced in various Arabic speaking countries. The sounds as well as stress-based vowels (22 in English, and 8 in Arabic) becomes the reason for an energetic articulation with high stress on some syllables in many Arabic –English speakers (Swan and Smith, 2001). Another problem area for the Arabic ESL adults is the inability to pronounce the diphthongs for a specific period of time, and thus mispronouncing, example: Raid to Red (Swan and Smith, 2001).

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