International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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The effect of L1 tonal status on the acquisition of L2 Mandarin tones

This study examines the second language (L2) Mandarin tone acquisition by two tonal groups of learners (Thai and Yoruba speakers). In the study, the two groups of learners read a passage and the tones in their readings were analyzed. The analysis of the tone productions focused on tone error patterns and locations that tone errors occurred. The analysis of tone errors showed that overall the Thai learners produced L2 Mandarin tones better than the Yoruba learners, due to their larger tone inventory size and/or tonal similarity with Mandarin tones. Another finding in this study is that the two learner groups shared some similar patterns in their L2 tone production, arguably due to the L2 learners' tendency to place narrow focus at the PW‐initial position.

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