Differential effects of SA and intensive AH courses on teenagers' L2 pronunciation
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The present study compares the differential effects of two learning contexts on the L2 pronunciation accuracy of L1-Spanish/Catalan teenage learners of English. The learners engaged in either a study abroad (SA) course in the UK (n = 14) or in an intensive course at home (AH) in Spain (n = 22) for 3 weeks. Sentence-sized production samples were elicited before and after the SA and AH courses through a delayed imitation task targeting difficult L2 phonetic and phonological features. L2 pronunciation accuracy was assessed through voice onset time (VOT) and perceived foreign accent (FA) measures. The results indicated that the SA learner group significantly improved their VOT and reduced their FA to a greater extent than the AH learner group did. VOT gains were significantly correlated with amount of FA reduction, suggesting that speakers who had developed a more target-like production of oral stops were also perceived to have reduced their overall FA to a greater extent. Taken together these results underscore the potential of SA to induce improvement in L2 pronunciation. Several pedagogical implications are discussed.