Volume 12, Issue 6
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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This study examined whether Korean learners of English attained native-like performance in English focus prosody by conducting production and perception experiments using digit strings. Language learners were classified into advanced-, intermediate-, and low-level groups according to their proficiency and compared with native speakers. Native speakers’ focus prosody was clearly prominent in the focus positions, and their post-focus positions were considerably compressed. Their focused digits were easy to detect, resulting in a 97% identification rate. Although advanced-level speakers produced acoustic cues quite similar to those of native speakers, their post-focus production did not resemble that of native speakers. Their identification rate was 81%, 16% lower than that of native speakers. Neither intermediate- nor low-level speakers’ focus-cueing changes were distinguished whatsoever in the focus and post-focus positions. Their identification rates were just over 10%, similar to the level of chance in a 10-digit string, implying that their focus productions were not sufficiently salient to be recognized in the experiment. The results suggest that second language acquisition is hindered by a negative transfer between English and Korean. The acquisition of second language focus prosody proceeds slowly; second language learners approach native-like proficiency once they become advanced.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): focus prosody; Korean learners of English; perception; production
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