Two phonetic training procedures for young learners: Investigating instructional effects on perceptual awareness

Canadian Modern Language Review

This study investigated the effect of two distinct computer-based phonetic training procedures administered in an English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom with young learners. Students’ perceptual awareness of the occurrence of English schwa in unstressed position in content words was tested in two experimental groups, which underwent differentiated training regimes (auditory discrimination/identification practice and listen-and-repeat practice), and a control group, which received no phonetic treatment. A training effect was shown by the significant improvement in the perception abilities of the two experimental groups only. In addition, both experimental groups exhibited comparable improvement in all the variables analysed. Training effects were also found for the word familiarity variable, which was mitigated after treatment. Results suggest a positive impact of both aural and imitation computer-based phonetic training on L2 sound perceptual awareness in classroom settings with young learners.