Modern Foreign Languages Faculty Work


L2 Acquisition and Category Formation of Spanish Voiceless Stops by Monolingual English Novice Learners

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Conference Proceeding

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Publication Title

Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium


While several studies have examined the end state of L2 phonological acquisition, little is known about the initial stages of L2 category formation. Similarly, studies have investigated the impact of explicit pronunciation instruction on intermediate and advanced learners' improvement in pronunciation but not novice learners' improvement in pronunciation. This study attempts to fill this gap by examining the impact of explicit phonetic instruction on 26 second-semester Spanish learners' improvement in the production of the voiceless stops (/ptk/). The participants were split into a target group (N=15) and a control group (N=11) and were administered a pre-test and post-test designed to elicit their productions of the voiceless stops. The target group received explicit phonetic instruction between the pre- and post-test, while the control group received extra general language practice instead. Results suggest that category formation of voiceless stops happens separately and that explicit instruction on L2 pronunciation is likely to help not only at intermediate and advanced levels but also at beginner stages.

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