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Title:A comparison of French and Kiswahili native-speaker reactions to nonnative speech
Author(s):Ngame, Matuku Ndunga
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hadley, Alice Omaggio
Department / Program:Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Language, Modern
Speech Communication
Discipline:Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Language, Modern
Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Language, Modern
Speech Communication
Abstract:The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of language and of degree of contextualization of the speech sample on native-speaker judgments of nonnative language. Two languages from different linguistic families were used: French and Kiswahili. Ten contextualized and ten decontextualized speech samples were drawn from oral interviews conducted and rated by trained raters using procedures outlined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Both French and Kiswahili speech excerpts were chosen in such a way that each exemplified the characteristics of the intermediate level according to the ACTFL Guidelines, ensuring that they were relatively homogeneous in terms of fluency, vocabulary, accuracy and language function. Twenty French native speakers from France and twenty Kiswahili native speakers from Tanzania and Kenya listened and rated the pre-recorded speech samples on two major criterion measures: comprehensibility and acceptability. Four linguistic criterion measures were also used to rate the samples; grammar, pronunciation, fluency and vocabulary. Data analysis showed that native-speaker judgments were significantly influenced by the language of the judges, but not by the degree of contextualization. Specifically, Kiswahili native speakers were more lenient in their judgments of nonnative speech than were French native speakers. These findings suggest that linguistic and cultural backgrounds have an important impact on native-speaker perception of nonnative speech. Differences in linguistic and cultural backgrounds constitute important factors which should be taken into consideration for language syllabus designs and oral proficiency guidelines.
A subsequent comparison of native-speaker ratings of all criterion measures showed that comprehensibility was rated higher than acceptability and all the linguistic measures. Phonological measures (fluency and pronunciation) were rated the lowest, followed by lexical and syntactic measures. This hierarchy in native-speaker ratings of interlanguage suggests that intermediate learner speech is intelligible to native speakers despite linguistic errors. At this level, language teachers should stress the improvement of learners' pronunciation and fluency.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Ngame, Matuku Ndunga
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9236551
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9236551

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