The production and the perception of English vowels by Mandarin speakers

Date

2012-09-18

Authors

Yu, Zhaoru

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

This study set out to examine how correctly Mandarin speakers produced and perceived English vowels and to explore the relationship between the production and the perception of English vowels by Mandarin speakers. Fifteen native Mandarin speakers, who had lived in Canada for at least two years and received an IELTS score of 6.5 or above, participated in this study. Fifteen native speakers of Canadian English living in Vancouver at the time of the study also participated as a control group. Two experiments were conducted involving 10 English vowels: /i/, /ɪ/, /ɛ/, /æ/, /ʊ/, /u/, /ʊ/, /ɔ/, /o/, and /ʌ/. In Experiment 1, both the Mandarin speakers and the native English speakers were recorded producing the ten vowels in a /bVt/ syllable in a carrier sentence. The vowels in the recordings were then identified by four native English listeners. In Experiment 2, the Mandarin speakers did an identification test of the vowels produced by the English speakers in Experiment 1. The results showed that Mandarin speakers in this study were able to produce and perceive certain English vowels correctly, but not all of them. The results also indicated that the relationship between the production and perception of English vowels by Mandarin speakers cannot be interpreted in a straightforward way, and that that L2 experience, in terms of length of residence, age of arrival, years of learning, and age when ESL learning starts, might also play an important role in the production and perception of English vowels by Mandarin speakers.

Description

Keywords

Mandarin speakers, English, vowels, perception, production, English vowels, L2 speech

Citation