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OBSERVING PITCH GESTURES FAVORS THE LEARNING OF SPANISH INTONATION BY MANDARIN SPEAKERS

  • Chenjie Yuan (a1), Santiago González-Fuente (a1), Florence Baills (a1) and Pilar Prieto (a2)
Abstract

Recent studies on the learning of L2 prosody have suggested that pitch gestures can enhance the learning of the L2 lexical tones. Yet it remains unclear whether the use of these gestures can aid the learning of L2 intonation, especially by tonal-language speakers. Sixty-four Mandarin speakers with basic-level Spanish were asked to learn three Spanish intonation patterns, all involving a low tone on the nuclear accent. In a pre-post test experimental design, half of the participants received intonation training without the use of pitch gestures (the control group) while the other half received the same training but with pitch gestures representing nuclear intonation contours (the experimental group). Musical (melody, pitch) abilities were also measured. The results revealed that (a) the experimental group significantly improved intonational production outcomes, and (b) even though participants with stronger musical abilities performed better, those with weaker musical abilities benefited more from observing pitch gestures.

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Corresponding author
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Chenjie Yuan, Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Roc Boronat 138, 08018 Barcelona, Spain. E-mail: chenjie.yuan@upf.edu
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This research has been funded by two research grants awarded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (FFI2015-66533-P) and the Generalitat de Catalunya (2014 SGR-925), both to the Prosodic Studies Group. The second author also acknowledges a FPU 2012-05893 grant awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Our gratitude goes to Ms. Huan Zhang, Mr. Wei Cao, and Ms. Nan Huang, who provided us with multimodal experimental classrooms and helped us to collect the oral data at Xi’an International Studies University in Xi’an, China. We are indebted to Joan Carles Mora, who read a first version of the manuscript and offered us many insightful comments and suggestions. We would also like to thank Joan Borràs-Comes, who helped us with the statistics. Special thanks also go to two anonymous reviewers and the editors, Susan Gass and Bill VanPatten, for invaluable comments and feedback.

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:932719

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