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Title:Social and learner-specific factors in the acquisition of nativelike phonetic contrasts by study abroad students in Paris, France
Author(s):Nicholas, Jessica Amanda
Director of Research:Fagyal, Zsuzsanna; Mroz, Aurore
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fagyal, Zsuzsanna
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Escobar, Anna Maria; Koven, Michèle; Roy, Joseph
Department / Program:French and Italian
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):French, study abroad, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, phonology, nasal vowels
Abstract:This dissertation explores the influence of the social and learner-specific aspects of the study abroad experience on learners’ developing nativelike phonology, overall proficiency, and motivation for second language learning. Its guiding research questions draw on theory and methodologies of both sociophonetics and second language acquisition. This research examines to what extent the attitudes and motivations of American university students studying in Paris influence their acquisition of the previously documented counter-clockwise rotation of nasal vowels in Northern Metropolitan French. Participants in this study were twelve students from an American university who participated in a study abroad program in Paris for one semester. The study employs a battery of qualitative and quantitative instruments (in a mixed methods design) to monitor students’ attitudes and motivations, French proficiency, ideologies about the host community, contact with the French language in the host community, and locally-specific nasal vowel perception. These instruments included a cloze test and an elicited imitation test for proficiency, a battery of motivational and attitudinal questionnaires, questionnaires about participants’ language backgrounds and contact with the target language, semi-structured individual and focus group interviews, and a nasal vowel perception experiment that was compared to the results of a native speaker control group. Results show that most participants were more likely to improve in their locally-specific nasal vowel perception if they demonstrated positive attitudes about their local host community, had relatively high proficiency levels, lived with a well-matched host family, spent more time interacting and reading in French, and spent less time interacting in English during the study abroad program. These results suggest that dialect-specific phonological acquisition may be influenced by a learner’s motivation to identify with the host community.
Issue Date:2018-03-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Jessica Nicholas
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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