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Subject: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old
Question: Hi,

I am a Japanese mother of a two-year-old daughter. We live in Japan
and she goes to a local nursery school, 8:30am to 6pm, five days a
week. She does not learn English there, but I hope my daughter gets
familier with English so I started to play English videos made for little
children, about 1hour, about 5 days a week, since she was half a

Now she started to repeat words heard from the videos, but I started
to notice that her word pronunciation is always CVCV structured. For
example, ''clock'' is like ''kurokku'' and ''fish'' is like ''fishu''.

When I watch the videos with her, I always pronounce the words as
they are pronounced in the video (I am near-native). And no one but
me speaks to her in English, so there is no chance that she hears
wrongly pronounced English words.

Japanese is a CVCV structured so I understand that would occur to
those who has acquired Japanese, but I wonder if two-year-olds'
pronunciation has already shaped to their native languages, and will
not accept second language-peculiar pronunciation (CVC).

I would appreciate any comments or references I can turn to.

Thank you,

Mikiko Tsumura

Reply: Hi,
The fact that your daughter is using CVCV syllable structure for
English words, i.e. using her native language patterns in the
pronunciation of foreign language forms is called 'transfer' in the
literature and is extremely common to all learners. According to
the research, transfer is particularly common in pronunciation
(which is why most second language learners have an 'accent' when
speaking their second language: their native language keeps
determining to a large extent their pronunciation). Nevertheless,
children nearly always succeed in overcoming transfer and acquire a
native-like pronunciation, ESPCECIALLY if they get positive
feedback from a live speaker. So...as my colleague suggests, keep
playing those videos to your child and continue to interact with
her, pronouncing the words correctly. With time and practice, she
should be OK.
Reply From: Robert A Papen      click here to access email
Date: 03-May-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (03-May-2013)
  2. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (03-May-2013)
  3. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (03-May-2013)
  4. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Steven Schaufele     (06-May-2013)
  5. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (09-May-2013)

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