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The effect of EFL age of onset on the distinction of phonemes /e/ and /æ/ in speech

Iva Gugo orcid id ; Središte za strane jezike “Katarina Zrinska”; Hrvatsko vojno učilište “Dr. Franjo Tuđman” Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 1.174 Kb


str. 221-264

preuzimanja: 58



According to Flege’s (1995) Speech Learning Model, the acquisition of the foreign language phonemes is dependent on the age of onset, and the ability to develop native-like pronunciation decreases with age. This paper examines how the age of onset affects the distinction of English phonemes /e/ and /æ/ in speech. The study was conducted with cadets (N = 30) at the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Croatian Defence Academy, all of whom speak English as a foreign language. The cadets were divided into groups: early and later beginners. The group of early beginners was comprised of cadets who had started learning English formally before the age of nine, while the later beginners started between the ages of nine and fourteen. Both groups of cadets performed three pronunciation-related tasks. In the first task, they repeated 42 words containing phonemes /e/ and /æ/ (21 minimal pairs) after the researcher. In the second task, they were asked to read aloud sentences containing the same words as in the previous task. The words appeared in random order and it was ensured that words from the same minimal pair did not appear successively. In the final task, the cadets answered questions related to their private lives. Both groups attained high accuracy scores for the pronunciation of both phonemes in all three tasks. It was thus concluded that the age of onset did not affect the quality of the pronunciation of phonemes /e/ and /æ/ or the ability to distinguish them in speech. Furthermore, both groups were prone to making the same mistakes, regardless of their age of onset. In the reading aloud task, mistakes occurred when cadets substituted lesserknown words with orthographically similar but more common ones. It is recommended that more classroom time be dedicated to teaching phonology and that the International Phonetic Alphabet be utilized when practicing pronunciation in English classes.

Ključne riječi

phonemes; age of onset; pronunciation; English as a foreign language; Speech Learning Model

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Podaci na drugim jezicima: hrvatski

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