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Title: Phonotactic probability and phonotactic constraints :processing and lexical segmentation by Arabic learners of English as a foreign language
Authors: Al-jasser, Faisal M. A.
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: A fundamental skill in listening comprehension is the ability to recognize words. The ability to accurately locate word boundaries(i . e. to lexically segment) is an important contributor to this skill. Research has shown that English native speakers use various cues in the signal in lexical segmentation. One such cue is phonotactic constraints; more specifically, the presence of illegal English consonant sequences such as AV and MY signals word boundaries. It has also been shown that phonotactic probability (i. e. the frequency of segments and sequences of segments in words) affects native speakers' processing of English. However, the role that phonotactic probability and phonotactic constraints play in the EFL classroom has hardly been studied, while much attention has been devoted to teaching listening comprehension in EFL. This thesis reports on an intervention study which investigated the effect of teaching English phonotactics upon Arabic speakers' lexical segmentation of running speech in English. The study involved a native English group (N= 12), a non-native speaking control group (N= 20); and a non-native speaking experimental group (N=20). Each of the groups took three tests, namely Non-word Rating, Lexical Decision and Word Spotting. These tests probed how sensitive the subjects were to English phonotactic probability and to the presence of illegal sequences of phonemes in English and investigated whether they used these sequences in the lexical segmentation of English. The non-native groups were post-tested with the -same tasks after only the experimental group had been given a treatment which consisted of explicit teaching of relevant English phonotactic constraints and related activities for 8 weeks. The gains made by the experimental group are discussed, with implications for teaching both pronunciation and listening comprehension in an EFL setting.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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