Nonlinguistic Factors that Affect the Degree of Foreign Accent in Second Language Mandarin

Open access

Abstract

Previous research findings have established that a number of nonlinguistic factors can influence the strength of perceived foreign accent in second language (L2) speech. However, the majority of past studies have predominantly considered foreign accent of Indo-European languages, notably English. Therefore, it remains unknown whether the same factors influence foreign accent in other languages, such as Mandarin. This article reports findings from a study on nonlinguistic factors affecting the degree of foreign accent in Mandarin as an L2. Seventy L2 learners of Mandarin Chinese recorded speech samples and completed language background questionnaires. Speech samples were rated by 15 native Mandarin speakers for the degree of foreign accent on a 9-point Likert scale. Stepwise multiple regression analysis resulted in a 3-predictor model of pronunciation accuracy: self-rating of foreign accent, Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK) proficiency level, and motivational reasons. Results suggest that (1) foreign accent in L2 Mandarin may not be affected by the same factors as in previous L2 accent studies and (2) the concepts of accentedness and comprehensibility may be more intricately linked in lexical tone languages such as Mandarin, in comparison to nontonal languages. These findings have wider implications for the field of L2 acquisition, which is dominated by studies of L2 English.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bergeron Annie & Pavel Trofimovich. 2017. Linguistic dimensions of accentedness and comprehensibility: Exploring task and listener effects in second language French. Foreign Language Annals 50(3). 547–566.

  • Bowles Anita R. Charles B. Chang & Valerie P. Karuzis. 2016. Pitch ability as an aptitude for tone learning. Language Learning 66(4). 774–808.

  • China Education Centre Ltd. 2016. HSK Speaking Test. http://www.chinaeducenter.com/en/hsk/hskadvanced.php (accessed 21 December 2017).

  • Derwing Tracey M. & Murray J. Munro. 1997. Accent intelligibility and comprehensibility: Evidence from four L1s. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 20. 1–16.

  • Derwing Tracey M. & Murray J. Munro. 2013. The development of L2 oral skills in two L1 groups: A 7-year study. Language Learning 63(2). 163–185.

  • Derwing Tracey M. & Marian J. Rossiter. 2003. The effects of pronunciation instruction on the accuracy fluency and complexity of L2 accented speech. Applied Language Learning 13(1). 1–17.

  • Flege James Elaine M. Frieda & Takeshi Nozawa. 1997. Amount of native-language (L1) use affects the pronunciation of an L2. Journal of Phonetics 25(2). 169–186.

  • Flege James & Serena Liu. 2001. The effect of experience on adults’ acquisition of a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 23(4). 527–522.

  • Flege James Murray J. Munro & Ian R. A. MacKay. 1995. Factors affecting strength of perceived foreign accent in a second language. Acoustical Society of America 97(5). 3125–3134.

  • Godfroid Aline Chin-His Lin & Catherine Ryu. 2017. Hearing and seeing tone through color: An efficacy study of web-based multimodal Chinese tone perception training. Language Learning 67(4). 819–857.

  • Guion Susan James E. Flege & Jonathan D. Loftin. 2000. The effect of L1 use on pronunciation in Quichua-Spanish bilinguals. Journal of Phonetics 28. 27–42.

  • Hao Yen-Chen. 2012. Second language acquisition of Mandarin Chinese tones by tonal and non-tonal language speakers. Journal of Phonetics 40(2). 269–279.

  • Hao Yen-Chen. 2018. Contextual effect in second language perception and production of Mandarin tones. Speech Communication 97. 32–42.

  • Hosmer David W. & Stanley Lemeshow. 2000. Applied logistic regression. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

  • Jesney Karen. 2004. The use of global foreign accent rating in studies of L2 acquisition. Calgary AB: Language Research Centre University of Calgary.

  • Jiang Xiaoli & Andrew D. Cohen. 2018. Learner strategies for dealing with pronunciation issues in Mandarin. System 76. 25–37.

  • Kang Okim. 2010. Relative salience of suprasegmental features on judgments of L2 comprehensibility and accentedness. System 38(2). 301–315.

  • Kinsella Ciara & David Singleton. 2014. Much more than age. Applied Linguistics 35(4). 441–462.

  • Levins John M. 2016. Accent in second language pronunciation research and teaching. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation 2(2). 153–159.

  • MacKay Ian. R. A. James E. Flege & Satomi Imai. 2006. Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent. Applied Psycholinguistics 27(2). 157–183.

  • Major Roy C. 1986. Paragoge and degree of foreign accent in Brazilian English. Second Language Research 2(1). 53–71.

  • Marian Victoria Henrike K. Blumenfeld & Margarita Kaushanskaya. 2007. The language experience and proficiency questionnaire (LEAP-Q): Assessing language profiles in bilinguals and multilinguals. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 50(4). 940–967.

  • Moyer Alene. 1999. Ultimate attainment in L2 phonology: The critical factors of age motivation and instruction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 21. 81–108.

  • Moyer Alene. 2007. Do language attitudes determine accent? A study of bilinguals in the USA. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 28(6). 502–518.

  • Moyer Alene. 2013. Foreign accent: The phenomenon of non-native speech. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Moyer Alene. 2016. The puzzle of gender effects in L2 phonology. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation 2(1). 8–28.

  • Munro Murray J. & Tracey M. Derwing. 1998. The effects of speaking rate on listener evaluation of native and foreign-accented speech. Language Learning 48(2). 159–182.

  • Munro Murray J. & Tracey M. Derwing. 1999. Foreign accent comprehensibility and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language learning 49(1). 285–310.

  • Munro Murray J. & Tracey M. Derwing. 2011. The foundations of accent and intelligibility in pronunciation research. Language Teaching 44(3). 316–327.

  • Pallant Julie. 2010. SPSS Survival Manual. United Kingdom: Open University Press.

  • Penfield Wilder & Lamar Roberts. 1959. Speech and brain-mechanisms. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Piske Thorsten Ian R. A. MacKay & James E. Flege. 2001. Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics 29(2). 191–215.

  • Plonsky Luke (ed.). 2015. Advancing quantitative methods in second language research. New York: Routledge.

  • Plonsky Luke & Frederick L. Oswald. 2014. How big is “big”? Interpreting effect sizes in L2 research. Language Learning 64(4). 878–912.

  • Polat Nihat. 2011. Gender differences in motivation and L2 accent attainment: An investigation of young Kurdish learners of Turkish. Language Learning Journal 39(1). 19–41.

  • Polat Nihat & Diane L. Schallert. 2013. Kurdish adolescents acquiring Turkish: Their self-determined motivation and identification with L1 and L2 communities as predictors of L2 accent attainment. The Modern Language Journal 97(3). 745–763.

  • Purcell Edward T. & Richard W. Suter. 1980. Predictors of pronunciation accuracy: A re-examination. Language Learning 30(2). 271–287.

  • Saito Kazuya. 2015. Experience effects on the development of late second language learners’ oral proficiency. Language Learning 65(3). 563–595.

  • Saito Kazuya Pavel Trofimovich & Talia Isaacs. 2015. Using listener judgements to investigate linguistic influences on L2 comprehensibility and accentedness: A validation and generalisation study. Applied Linguistics 36(4). 1–25.

  • Saito Kazuya Pavel Trofimovich & Talia Isaacs. 2016. Second language speech production: Investigating linguistic correlates of comprehensibility and accentedness for learners at different ability levels. Applied Psycholinguistics 37(2). 217–240.

  • Sereno Joan Lynne Lammers & Allard Jongman. 2016. The relative contribution of segments and intonation to the perception of foreign-accented speech. Applied Psycholinguistics 37(2). 303–322.

  • Slevc L. Robert & Akira Miyake. 2006. Individual differences in second-language proficiency: Does musical ability matter? Psychological Science 17(8). 675–681.

  • So Connie K & Catherine T. Best. 2010. Cross-language perception of non-native tonal contrasts: Effects of native phonological and phonetic influences. Language and Speech 53. 273–293.

  • Sun Chaofen. 2006. Chinese: A linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Suter Richard W. 1976. Predictors of pronunciation accuracy in second language learning. Language Learning 26(2). 233–253.

  • Tabachnick Barbara G. & Linda S. Fidell. 2013. Using multivariate statistics 6th edn. Boston MA & London: Pearson.

  • Tahta Sonia Margaret Wood & Kate Loewenthal. 1981. Foreign accents: Factors relating to transfer of accent from the first language to a second language. Language and Speech 24(3). 265–272.

  • Thompson Irene. 1991. Foreign accents revisited: The English pronunciation of Russian immigrants. Language Learning 41(2). 177–204.

  • Trofimovich Pavel & Talia Isaacs. 2012. Disentangling accent from comprehensibility. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 15(4). 905–916.

  • Trofimovich Pavel Talia Isaacs Sara Kennedy Kazuya Saito & Dustin Crowther. 2016. Flawed self-assessment: Investigating self- and other-perception of second language speech. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 19(1). 122–140.

  • Uzal Melike Teemu Peltonen Minna Huotilainen & Olli Aaltonen. 2015. Degree of perceived accent in Finnish as a second language for Turkish children born in Finland. Language Learning 65(3). 477–503.

  • Wang Xinchun. 2013. Perception of Mandarin Tones: The effect of L1 background and training. The Modern Language Journal 97(1). 144–160.

  • Wayland Ratree. 1997. Non-native production of Thai: Acoustic measurements and accentedness ratings. Applied Linguistics 18(3). 345–373.

  • Yang Bei. 2012. The gap between perception and production of tones by American learners of Mandarin – An intralingual perspective. Chinese as a Second Language Research 1(1). 33–53.

  • Yang Chunsheng. 2016. The acquisition of L2 Mandarin prosody: From experimental studies to pedagogical practice. Philadelphia & Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

  • Zhao Yang. 2011. A tree in the wood: A review of research on L2 Chinese acquisition. Second Language Research 27(4). 559–572.

  • Zybert Jerzy & Sabina Stepien. 2009. Musical intelligence and foreign language learning. Research in Language 7. 99–111.

Search
Journal information
Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 392 392 33
PDF Downloads 338 338 40