Phonological acquisition in the French-English interlanguage

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This paper aims at providing insight into the sort of information that different protocols and elicitation methods may yield on the properties of the French-English interlanguage, and into how accurately the data found is predicted by known Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theoretical frameworks. Models such as Flege’s Speech Learning Model or Best’s Perceptual Assimilation Model make various predictions on phonemic acquisition based on phonological structural symmetries – or absence thereof – between the source language and the target language. However, this preliminary study of the acquisition of /ɪ/-/iː/, /ʊ/-/uː/ and /θ/-/ð/ argues that these assumptions fail to predict differences in learning patterns between sets of phonemes pertaining to the same cross-language structure (e.g. English /ɪ/-/iː/ and /ʊ/-/uː/, corresponding to French /i/ and /u/ respectively) and calls for including parameters such as phonotactics, L2- specific frequency of occurrence and lexical contrast in model predictions. The material used consists in subsets of first-year, third-year and fourth-year students of English recorded as part of an examination for the completion of their courses.


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