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Auteur: Bin LI


Development of sensitivity to nonnative tones by Vietnamese learners of Mandarin

Abstract/Résumé: Prior knowledge of tones from a native language (L1) can hinder the development of sensitivity to certain non-native tones (L2). For example, Vietnamese speakers are found to have trouble distinguishing Mandarin high-level (T1) and high-falling (T4) tones, even though Vietnamese tone system contains a similar contrast. This study aimed at the relationship between language experience and the development of sensitivity to non-native tonal contrasts, by examining how Vietnamese learners of Mandarin perceive Mandarin T1 and T4. Vietnamese students who had learned Mandarin for 1 to 4 years finished a task of tone identification and discrimination. The results were analyzed using 3-way mix-design ANOVA with years of Mandarin learning as the between-subject factor, and pitch onset and slope of pitch change as two within-subject factors. The analysis revealed that years of Mandarin learning interacted significantly with slope of pitch change but not with pitch onset. Such correlation is also found stronger as learners became more experienced with Mandarin. So, our results revealed an increased ability in tone perception by the Vietnamese learners as a function of advancement in Mandarin proficiency.