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The Acquisition of Mandarin Consonants by English Learners: The Relationship between Perception and Production

Department of Linguistics, College of Arts and Humanities, California State University, Fresno, CA 93740, USA
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Languages 2020, 5(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5020020
Received: 15 February 2020 / Revised: 8 May 2020 / Accepted: 9 May 2020 / Published: 13 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Acquisition of Chinese as a First and Second Language)
This study investigates native English CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language) learners’ difficulties with Mandarin consonants at the initial stage of learning and explores the relationship between second language (L2) speech perception and production. Twenty-five native English CFL learners read the eight Mandarin consonants (j/tɕ/, q /tɕʰ/, x /ɕ/, zh /tʂ/, ch /tʂʰ/, sh /ʂ/, z /ts/, and c /tsʰ/) in sentences and identified the target sounds in a forced-choice identification task. Native Mandarin listeners identified the consonants produced by the learners and rated the quality of each sound they identified along a scale of 1 (poor) to 7 (good). The learners’ mean percentage accuracy scores ranged from 29% to 80% for perception and 25% to 88% for production. Moderate correlations between the perception and production scores were found for two of the eight target sounds. The Mandarin retroflex, palatal, and dental fricatives and affricates, though all lack counterparts in English, pose different problems to the English CFL learners. The misperceived retroflex and palatal sounds were substituted with each other in perception but mis-produced palatal sounds were substituted with each other, not with retroflex sounds. The relationship between perception and production of L2 consonants is not straightforward. The findings are discussed in terms of current speech learning models. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mandarin consonants; English CFL learners; L2 perception and production Mandarin consonants; English CFL learners; L2 perception and production
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wang, X.; Chen, J. The Acquisition of Mandarin Consonants by English Learners: The Relationship between Perception and Production. Languages 2020, 5, 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5020020

AMA Style

Wang X, Chen J. The Acquisition of Mandarin Consonants by English Learners: The Relationship between Perception and Production. Languages. 2020; 5(2):20. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5020020

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wang, Xinchun, and Jidong Chen. 2020. "The Acquisition of Mandarin Consonants by English Learners: The Relationship between Perception and Production" Languages 5, no. 2: 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5020020

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