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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Acquisition of Speech Rhythm and Stop Voicing by Greek Learners of English: A pedagogical and linguistic approach Add Dissertation
Author: Eleni Tsiartsioni Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics; Phonetics; Language Acquisition;
Subject Language(s): English
Greek, Modern
Director(s): Marina Mattheoudakis
Katerina Nicolaidis
Christos Nakas

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.