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LINGUIST List 22.3858

Tue Oct 04 2011

Diss: Lang Acq/Phonetics: Tsiartsioni: 'The Acquisition of Speech ...'

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        1.     ELENI TSIARTSIONI , The Acquisition of Speech Rhythm and Stop Voicing by Greek Learners of English: A pedagogical and linguistic approach


Message 1: The Acquisition of Speech Rhythm and Stop Voicing by Greek Learners of English: A pedagogical and linguistic approach
Date: 28-Sep-2011
From: ELENI TSIARTSIONI <eltsiartsioniyahoo.gr>
Subject: The Acquisition of Speech Rhythm and Stop Voicing by Greek Learners of English: A pedagogical and linguistic approach
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Institution: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Program: PhD in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Eleni Tsiartsioni

Dissertation Title: The Acquisition of Speech Rhythm and Stop Voicing by Greek
Learners of English: A pedagogical and linguistic approach

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Language Acquisition
Phonetics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
Greek, Modern (ell)


Dissertation Director(s):
Katerina Nicolaidis
Christos Nakas
Marina Mattheoudakis

Dissertation Abstract:

L2 phonological acquisition constitutes a challenging area of research, as
previous studies have reported that mastery of the L2 phonological system is a
rare occurrence among L2 learners. Constraints in pronunciation accuracy
appear to be related to a number of parameters, for example, to interference
from speakers' L1, universal tendencies of language, learners' age of onset of
language learning, the quality and quantity of exposure to L2, as well to social
and psychological factors. A central question is whether L2 pronunciation can be
taught and to what extent pronunciation teaching intervention can be effective.

The aim of the present study is to investigate the production of L2 speech rhythm
and selected features of the stop voicing system among Greek learners of
English before and after pronunciation teaching intervention that occurs in a
foreign formal language context of acquisition. For the purposes of the present
study two groups of speakers were examined, an experimental group who
received a pronunciation teaching intervention and a control group, who followed
the regular classes at school without special pronunciation teaching intervention.
Each group comprised students of three different ages (10-, 13- and 16-years
old) in order to investigate the potential role of learners' age in relation to L2
phonological acquisition. Data on L1 Greek and English were also obtained. The
pronunciation teaching included 51 pronunciation mini-lessons embedded in the
regular English language course, following the methodology of Celce-Murcia,
Brinton and Goodwin (1996), who proposed five stages of pronunciation teaching
that range from controlled to free activities. Rhythm was quantified with the use
of the PVI measure (Low, Grabe and Nolan 2000, Grabe and Low 2002), which
examines the vocalic and intervocalic duration variability in a long stretch of
speech. The acquisition of the durational correlates of voicing was measured
with the use of waveform and spectrographic analysis of features in word initial
and final stops. Individual variability was also explored through the
implementation of the 'native-likeness criterion' (Birdsong 2007, Flege, Munro
and Skelton 1992).

The results indicated that, generally before teaching, speakers resorted to L1
interference or to universal tendencies of language. After teaching a change was
reported for speakers of the experimental, but not of the control groups. Great
inter- and intra-speaker variability was reported, especially after instruction.
Generally, improvement was found for the experimental groups, however,
systematic target-like production was difficult to achieve. Also no clear global
effect of learners' age was reported. A detailed analysis of the possible
constraints in pronunciation accuracy, as well as the pedagogical implications of
the findings are presented. The results are evaluated in relation to theoretical
frameworks of L2 phonological acquisition.

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