Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Recently several research groups that are concerned with language acquisition have claimed, that suprasegmental information contributes to the learnability of natural languages. Specifically, it is claimed, that suprasegmentals enable the language learner to perceive and distinguish linguistic patterns in the stream of speech (Morgan et al, 1987; Mehler et al, 1988; Hirsch-PAsek, 1987). It has been shown, that suprasegmentals are immediately accessable to babies and require no learning process. This finding is compatible with psychological research that has shown, that the sensoric system of babies structures perception immediately after birth (see Van Geert, 1983 for an overview).The present study deals with the use of suprasegmentals in adult second language learners. For several reasons it may be wondered whether adults have the same benefit from suprasegmentals like newborns. Therefore an experiment is conducted in order to investigate the ability of adult second language learners to distinguish several stress-patterns in Dutch. Several stress-patterns in two- and three syllabic words were investigated. The results indicate, that both groups of second language learners use a lexical and a perceptual strategy, that in the case of Level 1 students leads to a confusion of perceptual and lexical strategies, whereas Level Π students appear to seperate these strategies in a more appropriate way. The results are discussed in the perspective of language teaching. It is concluded, that the development of perceptual strategies need more attention in the classroom, since they might enable the student more effectively to explore a second language in communicative situations.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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