Center for Language Research
University of Aizu
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Ultrasound and L2 Pronunciation
In this area of research, we are comparing second language (L2) learners' tongue movements during the pronunciation of their native language (usually Japanese) with their L2 (English). We are also investigating the effectiveness of ultrasound as a form of real-time visual biofeedback for pronunciation learners.
・An Ultrasound Analysis of the Relationship between Pronunciation and Tongue Shape
To improve pronunciation teaching methods, many researchers have studied various technological means of providing feedback to the student. Ultrasound is one means because ultrasound makes it possible to see the tongue moving during speech. Although Japanese /t/, /d/ and /n/ sound very similar to English /t/, /d/ and /n/, respectively, phonetics references state that in Japanese these sounds are dental whereas in English these sounds are alveolar. In this research, ultrasound was used to compare tongue shapes when speaking in Japanese and English. It was investigated whether the perceived pronunciation proficiency of subjects in their second language was related to the degree that they separated their tongue shapes across languages. Result indicate no significant relationship between these two. This may be because subjects’ pronunciation levels were not close enough to native speakers’ levels.
・Ultrasound Analysis of the Pronunciation Proficiency of Japanese Learners of English
Correct articulation is the most important factor to improve pronunciation. Thinking about the effect of the first language’s pronunciation on that of the second language, it is clear that habitual tongue positions for various articulation could affect the learning of a second language’s pronunciation. Using ultrasound imaging, the articulation of syllable differences between Japanese and English, especially the pronunciation of consonant-final words (m-, p-, and t-final words) was compared for native and non-native pronunciation. Using m-, p-, and final words, a study of English pronunciation improvement and proficiency levels was done. Results show that the L1 pronunciation motor program most likely affects L2 articulation and pronunciation proficiency, and that learners exist who have native-sounding pronunciation without having native-like articulation.