Tackling phonemic problems of Hong Kong secondary ESL students through minimal pairs: A quasi-experimental study

Ting Lan LAM

Research output: Other contributionHonours Project


This quasi-experimental study investigates the effect of minimal pair approaches in pronunciation remedial teaching in a Hong Kong senior secondary English as second language (ESL) classroom. By comparing the performance on pronunciation of a Secondary 5 class comprised of 26 students, before and after receiving the remediation, this paper reveals the outcome of using minimal pairs for pronunciation teaching. The data for comparison were gathered through an oral pre-test and post-test, in which students read aloud confusable words, or sentences consisted of those words, of Cantonese ESL learners. The data, in the form of test scores, were analysed quantitatively. The results suggested minimal pair approaches brought about significant and prominent positive effect on tackling phonemic problems, with evidence showing the greatest effect on vowels while that on single consonants and consonant clusters being similar. Findings of this study may inspire educators to incorporate the use of minimal pairs in pronunciation remediation in order to improve students’ language competence, which is essential for intelligible and effective communication.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Hong Kong


  • Minimal pair
  • Pronunciation
  • Phonemic problem
  • Quasi-experiment
  • Honours Project (HP)
  • Bachelor of Education (Honours) (English Language) (Four-year Full-time)
  • Programme code: A4B036
  • Course code: ENG4900