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Speech Perception of English as a Foreign Language by Mandarin Chinese Speakers




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Speech Perception of English as a Foreign Language by Mandarin Chinese Speakers by Mian Wu
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This dissertation, "Speech Perception of English as a Foreign Language by Mandarin Chinese Speakers" by Mian, Wu, 吴冕, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Numerous studies have been conducted on speech perception of English as a second language (ESL) by learners who live in English-speaking countries. However, little is known about learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) who have limited exposure to native English on a daily basis. With more access to higher education, better employment opportunities and wider interpersonal networks, increasing number of Chinese speakers have been motivated to study English as a foreign language. The present study examined Mandarin EFL learners' ability to perceive English phonemes and sentences. In addition, we investigated the influence of linguistic variables including proficiency in English, the amount of exposure to English and the amount of English use on Mandarin EFL learners' perception of English. Finally how segmental perception could influence sentence recognition in noise was also examined. Sixty adult native Mandarin Chinese EFL speakers with relatively high proficiency in English were recruited. Vowel perception was assessed using a vowel identification test and sentence recognition thresholds (SRTs) were obtained using the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT). Information on language background was collected using the Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q). Results showed that none of the Mandarin EFL speakers achieved native-like perception of English vowels and sentences. However, better performance was found among those with higher proficiency in English. In the vowel identification test, the English vowels /eɪ/ and /i/ were relatively better perceived than others by Mandarin EFL speakers. Furthermore, consistent confusions of the contrasts /ae/-/ɛ/, /ɑ/-/ʌ/, and /u/-/ʊ/ were observed. Correlation analyses showed no significant relationship of exposure and usage factors with performance. Significant correlation of vowel identification and sentence recognition was observed among listeners with relatively less exposure and usage of EFL (r = .78), but not among listeners with higher exposure and usage of EFL. In conclusion, results of vowel identification suggested that Mandarin EFL speakers' perception of English phonemes was interfered by their first language. The influences of exposure and usage on perceptual ability seemed to depend on an early age of learning English and sufficient immersion in English environments. Segmental perception affected higher-level recognition, but only for EFL learners with little exposure and usage. It indicated that these learners might rely more on bottom-up information while learners with greater exposure and usage might have made better use of top-down processing. These findings provided empirical evidence of how EFL speakers perceived English phonemes and sentences, and provided insights into application of ESL models to predict the ability to understand speech, particularly in noise, among EFL speakers. DOI: 10.5353/th_b5328030 Subjects: Speech perception
Release date NZ
January 26th, 2017
Created by
colour illustrations
Country of Publication
United States
Open Dissertation Press
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