Chinese Phonotactic Patterns and the Pronunciation Difficulties of Mandarin-Speaking EFL Learners

| December 25, 2009
Title
Chinese Phonotactic Patterns and the Pronunciation Difficulties of Mandarin-Speaking EFL Learners

Keywords: phonotactic constraints, pronunciation difficulties, suprasegmental sounds, syllable structures, Mandarin

Authors
Hui-Ling Huang & James Radant
Applied Foreign Languages at Yunlin University

Bio Data
Dr. Hui-ling Huang is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Foreign Language at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology since 2002. Her research field is on children’s literature and English teaching, particularly storytelling in the teaching of English phonology, discourse intonation and cross-cultural communication.

James Radant has an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin Madison. He has been a lecturer in the Department of Applied Foreign Languages at Yunlin University for 12 years.

Abstract
To draw EFL teachers attention to pronunciation difficulties resulting from L1 phonotactic constraints, this study examined the hypothesis that certain syllable structures could cause more mispronunciation than segmental sounds for Mandarin-speaking EFL learners. A 145-word reading passage was developed with a total of 30 target sounds, which included the problematic syllable structures that exhibited Mandarin phonotactic constraints and the most troublesome segmental sounds identified in other studies. 146 college students were tested and the results validated the hypothesis, which demonstrated that the successful pronunciation of individual sounds does not automatically transfer to successful pronunciation at the word level. It is suggested that apart from the teaching of segmental sounds and word stress, teachers need to be informed of the relation between L1 phonotactic constraints and English mispronunciation. Mandarin speaking non-native EFL teachers cross-linguistic ability may allow them to implement unique pedagogical tactics that address the particular needs of their students to enable them to cope with such aspects of non-segmental pronunciation difficulties.

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See pages 148-168

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 11 Issue 4