THE IMPACT OF EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION ON PHONOLOGICAL ACQUISITION
This experimental study aims to test the effectiveness of three different techniques designed to support the learning problems associated with generalizing an L1 phoneme with allophonic variation (/l/ ¡æ /©©/ word finally) to all L2 environments, learning that an L1 allophone (/t/, /d/ ¡æ flap word-medially before an unstressed syllable) has phonemic status in the L2, and learning an L2 phoneme that does not exist in the L1 (/r/).
All the experimental groups received equal exposure to the three target segments. The only difference between the groups was the treatment. The treatment exercises included equal exposure to the three target segments, but exclusively covered either articulatory practice, contrasting environments for the same sound or English-Spanish pairs. Each treatment was predicted to be optimally effective for one segment in particular, based on the learning problem associated with each of the three segments included in the study. The effectiveness of each treatment was measured quantitatively based on improvements in test scores measuring pronunciation accuracy.
The 53 study participants were native speakers of English enrolled in first-semester Spanish at the University of Pittsburgh. Subjects were divided into three experimental groups and one control group. With the exception of the control group, course instructors engaged students in daily imitation drills over a four-week period.
Results were evaluated by means of a word list recording for the pretest and posttest. The main and interaction effects of time, treatment and position for each of the target sounds were analyzed using a 3-way ANCOVA. A second set of 3-way ANCOVAs measured the effects of time, position and test item frequency for each sound.
None of the outcomes supported the hypotheses that predicted each treatment would be maximally effective for one of the target sounds. A variety of factors, such as variation in instruction, may have influenced overall improvements in accuracy. It is possible that the treatments might have produced significant outcomes had the treatment been longer. Despite the lack of statistically significant outcomes, the results suggest that explicit instruction in pronunciation can have a positive effect on pronunciation accuracy.
Advisor:Suzanne Curtin; Dawn McCormick; Robert DeKeyser
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:10/17/2005