Foreign accent modification: association among word emphasis and risk-taking for adult Japanese English-language learners
The purpose of this study was to investigate possible associations between the application of word emphasis and risk-taking behaviors of adult Japanese English-language learners (ELLs) in the scope of foreign accent modification. The investigation was conducted through comparing 30 adult Japanese ELLs "first readings of a scenario with 30 age- and gender-matched native American-English speakers (NESs), the ELLs" first readings and second readings with an instruction to apply emphasis, and the ELLs' scores for a risk-taking questionnaire. Acoustical data were gathered from the recorded readings of the speakers for vowel duration, fundamental frequency (F0), and intensity of the pre-determined target words in the scenario. A second measurement tool involved seven listeners‟ evaluations of comprehensibility and foreign accentedness for each recorded token and their identification of the emphasized words. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in vowel duration, F0, and intensity of the pre-determined target words between the ELLs‟ and NESs‟ first readings. Although the Japanese ELLs made significant increases in the three acoustical elements on the target words after receiving instruction to apply emphasis in their second readings, the listeners‟ evaluations of comprehensibility and foreign accentedness did not correlate with the changes. Also, no correlation was found between changes the ELLs made and their scores on the risk-taking questionnaire. The findings may provide additional perspectives for foreign accent modification in addition to conventional methods. Overall outcomes may also be beneficial to help the increasing number of nonnative English speakers be more comprehensible and adaptable for American society.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders