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Volume 13 Number 3, Autumn 2016, Pages 162-246 PDF Download

Using Auditory Word Repetition to Improve L2 Pronunciation of English Schwa by Japanese Learners: From the Perspective of Phonological Processing

    Kaori Sugiura

This study investigates the effects of immediate repetition of auditory words on L2 pronunciation
improvement of English schwa by Japanese EFL learners. More specifically, the study is concerned
with how the amount of input (i.e., five or ten repetitions) and stimuli characteristics (i.e., the position
of schwa in a word, word familiarity) influences the repetition effect. The study consists of a study
and a test phase: In the study phase, participants listened to and repeated words. In the test phase, they
repeated spoken stimuli including previously heard as well as new words, both ten minutes and one
week after the study phase. The auditory materials consisted of 32 real words. The duration ratio of
schwa to a stressed vowel in a word and the quality of the schwa were acoustically examined. A
repetition effect was mainly found in the durational aspect. Repeating the stimuli more than five times
did not differentiate the effect. One week after the study phase, the effect persisted only for initial
schwa, which is weakly represented in the participants' mental representation. The pedagogical
implications for L2 pronunciation teaching from the view of language processing are discussed.

Keywords: L2 pronunciation improvement, English schwa, immediate repetition, auditory words, phonological processing