Chapter published in:English Pronunciation Instruction: Research-based insights
Edited by Anastazija Kirkova-Naskova, Alice Henderson and Jonás Fouz-González
[AILA Applied Linguistics Series 19] 2021
► pp. 256–277
Acquisition of English onset consonant clusters by L1 Chinese speakers
The present study investigates the syllable modification processes used by L1 Chinese speakers in producing English two-consonant onset clusters. The results show greater pronunciation accuracy for combinations of fricative+liquid, followed by voiceless stop+liquid and voiced stop+liquid clusters. The findings suggest two sources contributing to production errors: L1 influence and coarticulation effects. Transfer from Chinese is manifested in the systematic devoicing of the initial voiced consonant and vowel epenthesis. We argue that a hierarchy of production difficulty is motivated phonetically. This chapter also examines the pedagogical implications of our findings, helping EFL teachers to better understand the source of cluster mispronunciations. Finally, we present teaching techniques which should lead Chinese learners of English to acquire consonant clusters more effectively.
Keywords: L2 phonology, English consonant clusters, Chinese learners of English, language transfer, coarticulation effects, L2 pronunciation teaching
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