Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 10:51:53 +0000
Subject: Re: Accent Reduction Therapy - Yoruba

On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, TERRY IRONS wrote:
}More theoretically, in the context of some things I have been exploring
}with students recently and since I was recently asked to develop and
}direct an intensive ESL program at our school, to what extent is accent
}reduction possible in adult second language learners? Research I have
}surveyed suggests that adult second language learners "hear" their second
}language production filtered through the phonology of their first language.
}Any thoughts here?

Is that last question rhetorical?
I haven't come across anything that second language learners hear
the L2 through a filter. There is some sparse research on production of a
second phonology. I can't remember the authors, but the proceedings were
either "New Sounds 90" or "New Sounds 92", and an article mentioned that
adults can acquire the tone and intonation patterns of a second language.
On the segmental level, things get a little more hairy. J.E.
Flege has done a lot of research on acquiring "new" and "similar" sounds,
but that's strictly a phonetic analysis and I personally think phonology
plays quite a role.
There's an entire book called "Interlanguage Phonology" directly
and indirectly dealing with accent reduction in foreign language learners.
Many of the articles therein talk about this "filter" that Terry is asking
In my own work, I'm finding that second dialect learners use and
manipulate as much of their first phonology as possible. Adults, and
children after they've manipulated as much as they can adopt a
"close enough" attitude (generally hypercorrection). In older terms,
this was called interference. This same phenomenon seems to happen to
second language learners as well, but I don't want to hazard any further

Aaron E. Drews
Ph.D. Candidate +44 (0)131 650-3485
The University of Edinburgh fax: +44 (0)131 650-3962
Departments of Linguistics and English Language