Empathy as a Predictor of Pronunciation Mastery: The Case of Female Iranian EFL Learners’ Pronunciation Errors

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Vali-e-Asr University, Rafsanjan, Iran

2 Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan



The present study set out to identify the problematic areas of pronunciation among Iranian female EFL learners. Further, this study investigated the relationship between empathy and authentic pronunciation, along with gender as a moderator variable. Comparing segmental features and phonological processes of both languages helped teachers to predict the target errors. To reach such a goal, a total of 69 Iranian undergraduate EFL learners were recruited from the Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan, majoring in English literature and translation studies participated in the study. The subjects were conveniently sampled and were taking the course Conversation I. After administrating the Basic Empathy Scale (BES: Jolliffe & Farrington, 2006), the students were assigned to two groups: high-empathic group and low-empathic group. Both groups participated in an oral interview twice (before and after segmental form-focused instruction). The data were collected through taping participants’ pronunciation of some words. Two raters analyzed students’ pronunciation in terms of segmental features. The results demonstrated that the absence of some phonemes in the Farsi sound system and some phonological differences between the two languages caused difficulties for EFL learners. Furthermore, it was witnessed that those in the high-level group (i.e., more empathic learners) were more successful in acquiring authentic pronunciation than those in the low-level group.


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