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APTITUDE, EXPERIENCE, AND SECOND LANGUAGE PRONUNCIATION PROFICIENCY DEVELOPMENT IN CLASSROOM SETTINGS: A LONGITUDINAL STUDY

  • Kazuya Saito (a1), Yui Suzukida (a2) and Hui Sun (a3)
Abstract

The current study longitudinally examined the influence of aptitude on second language (L2) pronunciation development when 40 first-year Japanese university students engaged in practice activities inside and outside English-as-a-Foreign-Language classrooms over one academic year. Spontaneous speech samples were elicited at the beginning, middle, and end points of the project, analyzed for global, segmental, syllabic, prosodic, and temporal aspects of L2 pronunciation, and linked to their aptitude and experience profiles. Results indicated that the participants generally enhanced the global comprehensibility of their speech (through reducing vowel insertion errors in complex syllables) as a function of increased classroom experience during their first semester, and explicit learning aptitude (associative memory, phonemic coding) appeared to help certain learners further enhance their pronunciation proficiency through the development of fluency and prosody. In the second semester, incidental learning ability (sound sequence recognition) was shown to be a significant predictor of the extent to which certain learners continued to improve and ultimately attain advanced-level L2 comprehensibility, largely thanks to improved segmental accuracy.

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Corresponding author
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kazuya Saito, Birkbeck, University of London, Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Room 334, 25 Russell Square, London, United Kingdom WC1B 5DQ. E-mail: k.saito@bbk.ac.uk
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We are grateful to Peter Skehan, the journal associate editor, Andrea Révész, and two anonymous SSLA reviewers for their constructive feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript. We also acknowledge Keiko Hanzawa, Takumi Uchihara, George Smith, and Ze Shan Yao for their help for data collection and analyses. The project was funded by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research in Japan (No. 26770202) and the Birkbeck College Additional Research Support.

The experiment in this article earned an Open Materials badge for transparent practices. The materials are available at https://www.iris-database.org/iris/app/home/detail?id=york%3a915898&ref=search.

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