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    Communicative focus on form and second language suprasegmental learning: teaching Cantonese learners to perceive mandarin tones

    Saito, Kazuya and Wu, X. (2014) Communicative focus on form and second language suprasegmental learning: teaching Cantonese learners to perceive mandarin tones. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 36 (04), pp. 647-680. ISSN 0272-2631.

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    The current study examined how form-focused instruction (FFI) with and without corrective feedback (CF) as output enhancement can facilitate L2 perception of Mandarin tones at both the phonetic and phonological levels in 41 Cantonese learners of Mandarin. Two experimental groups, FFI-only and FFI-CF, received a 90-minute FFI treatment designed to encourage them to notice and practice the categorical distinctions of Mandarin tones through a range of communicative input and output activities. During these activities, the instructors provided CF only to students in the FFI-CF group by recasting and pushing them to repair their mispronunciations of the target features (i.e., output enhancement). The control group received comparable meaning-oriented instruction without any FFI. The effectiveness of FFI was assessed via a forced-choice identification task with both trained and untrained items for a variety of tonal contrasts in Mandarin (high level Tone 1 vs. mid-rising Tone 2 vs. high falling Tone 4). According to statistical comparisons, the FFI-only group attained significant improvement in all lexical and tonal contexts, and such effectiveness was evident particularly in the acquisition of Tone 1 and Tone 4—supposedly the most difficult instances due to their identical phonological status in the learners’ L1, Cantonese. The FFI-CF group, however, demonstrated marginally significant gains only under the trained lexical conditions. The results in turn suggest that FFI promotes learners’ attentional shift from vocabulary to sound learning (generalizable gains in trained and untrained items) and facilitates their access to new phonetic and phonological categories. Yet, the relative advantage of adding CF to FFI as output enhancement remains unclear, especially with respect to the less experienced L2 learners in the current study.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Applied Linguistics and Communication (to 2020)
    Depositing User: Kazuya Saito
    Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2015 11:23
    Last Modified: 14 Jun 2021 09:25


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