Development in Pronunciation Accuracy Through Visual Feedback and Drills: Evidence From Stoprhotic Clusters in Learners of Spanish as L2
Previous literature argues that native-like pronunciation is impossible in non-primary language acquisition related to the age of L2 onset (Scovel, 1988; Long, 1990). Studies provide evidence that different types of instruction have a positive effect on L2 learners’ productions (i.e., Derwing, Munro & Wiebe, 1998; González-Bueno & Quintana-Lara, 2011) and L2 learners may achieve native-like mastery of the target language phonetic features (Bongaerts, 1995). Some studies provide evidence that drills are effective for producing more native-like speech (Paulston, 1970; Yoshida & Fukada, 2014). Other studies provide evidence that visualization of the speech contours has a significant effect on improving suprasegmentals (i.e., Chun, 1989; James, 1979) and segmentals (i.e., Motohashi-Saigo & Hardison, 2009). For stop rhotic clusters (SRC), Spanish and English differ in: short vs. long lag stop voicing; rhotic manner (tap vs. retroflex), and epenthesis (presence vs. absence). Studies suggest that L2 learners may achieve native-like mastery of target language phonetic properties of SRC (Colantoni & Steele, 2006) but no known studies have compared the use of a visual feedback paradigm (VFP), Drills, and traditional instruction in their production. Three groups of native English speaker learners of Spanish recorded a pre-test, 3 trainings and post-test throughout one semester. The visual feedback group and drills group performed a visual and auditory discrimination task respectively, comparing their productions with those of NSS. The control group performed cultural activities. Target tokens, containing SRCs, were embedded in novel phrases and carrier sentences. While both trainings were equally effective for the durational parameters of the plosive and the rhotic segment, the other two features (rhotic manner and epenthesis) showed more resistance to be mastered. Results show that the acquisition of SRC seems to follow a difficulty acquisition hierarchy, but there is a strong co-dependence between the rhotic manner and the presence of an epenthetic vowel.