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The Process of Second Language Acquisition of Mandarin Tones-Case Studies of American Learners on the Perception of Speech Prosody
The project investigates the process of second language acquisition of Mandarin tones and the factors in tonal identification of Mandarin. Longitudinal studies will be conducted to examine the perception of Mandarin tones and speech prosody. The project will recruit thirty American learners of Mandarin Chinese in NCHU and the University of Texas at Austin to participate in the perception tests and the assessment of tonal acquisition.Earlier studies focused on the production of Mandarin tones, and different tones frequently differ not only in fundamental frequency (f0) but also in duration, amplitude, and voice quality. It has been widely agreed that fundamental frequency (f0) is the absolutely indispensable cue to tonal recognition, and that duration does affect the perception and recognition of Mandarin tones. Hears may perceive Mandarin tones categorically, but non-native speakers, with limited perception of Mandarin tonal contrasts, have difficulties in tonal identification. The process of tonal perception and learning of second language learners is not clear, and very few researchers have paid attention to the second language acquisition of Mandarin tones. Empirical studies on the identification of Mandarin tones in cases of second language learners are definitely in need.The goal of the project is to look at the perception of Mandarin tones and speech prosody by English-speaking learners. The patterns of tonal acquisition will be identified, and the accessibility of Mandarin tones and speech prosody will be tracked and analyzed as a base for the development of learning technology of Mandarin as a second language. Elementary and intermediate English-speaking learners of Mandarin will participate in the perception tests, and the learning strategies and tonal identification training will be given to the English-speaking learners in an experimental condition approaching the native speaker's perception. As the major difficulties of Mandarin tonal acquisition are tackled, the teaching and learning strategies in the context of Mandarin as a second language will be provided for a better technology-integrated tool in language learning programs.
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