Vietnamese refugees acquiring proficiency with Australian-English vowels
A family case study
This paper presents data from a longitudinal study of Vietnamese refugee families acquiring Australian-English. Specifically, the paper is concerned with Vietnamese acquiring proficiency with vowels. It documents the progress made by four members of a Vietnamese family across their first year in the country, reporting on two areas of production known to be difficult for Vietnamese: the long-short vowel distinctions, and diphthongs before a final consonant. It also reports on the subjects’ discrimination of the monophthongal vowels of Australian-English. It is shown that, for this family, the long-short distinctions are particularly problematic in terms of both production and discrimination. The report is presented as a family case study. Psycho-social factors influencing the development of the four family members are discussed. It is stressed that we as teachers and researchers need to be aware of these factors, particularly those relating to the family – the most important social unit in Vietnamese culture.