Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Pronunciation Accuracy in L2 Speech across Different Production Tasks

Sonia d’Apolito, University of Salento (Italy)

Barbara Gili Fivela, University of Salento (Italy)


This study focuses on the realization of geminates in Italian as L2 by French learners of two different competence levels (low vs high proficiency) in order to observe: 1) how the L1 influences the production of non- native sounds like geminates; and 2) how the competence level affects the accuracy in producing geminates. In addition, pronunciation accuracy is also observed across different production tasks in which the amount of information available varies (isolated word, poor and rich phrases, minimal pairs). Our hypothesis is that both L1 and proficiency affects accuracy as it is expected a lower accuracy by learners than natives, above all by beginners. Moreover, the accuracy can vary across the tasks and it is expected a lower accuracy when the context is richer, since other elements can help to disambiguate the target word and in minimal pairs as it requires a strong effort to keep a clear distinction. Nine subjects participated in the experiment: 6 French learners were gathered into two groups: low (L1;L2;L3) and high (H1;H2;H3) competence level; and 3 Italian natives as control (C1;C2;C3). L2 Italian sounds were the singleton consonants /t,d,s,n,l,r/ and their geminate counterparts /t:d:,s:,n:,l:,r:/. For each phoneme two minimal pairs were found. The word, including target sounds, were read a) in isolation; b) in a phrase in poor context – a carrier phrase which does not facilitate disambiguation; 2) in a phrase in rich context – an appropriate phrase according to the meaning of the word which does help to disambiguate the words; and c) in minimal pairs. Acoustic segmentation was performed in PRAAT in order to: 1) label the target segments C1V1C2V2 (whereC2=C/CC); 2) observe the production of geminates; and 3) perform the duration of the target consonant segment (C2). Results show that French learners’ productions are influenced by L1 phonetics and phonology as well by the competence level. Advanced learners distinguishes well geminates from singleton as control speakers do while the beginners’ production vary from a very low degree of accuracy to a higher degree of accuracy. In all cases the duration of CC is longer than that of C. Learners pay more attention in producing accurately geminates when the context is poor and the lowest degree of accuracy is found for minimal pairs.

Keywords: L2 pronunciation; Italian L2; geminates; speech production.

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