Accent Fossilization in Older Iranian Women in Canada

Report
Yalda Ahmadvand
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Aging is an unavoidable fact of human nature
Decline in physical abilities
The effect of age on learning new skills
Decline of abilities in second language
learning, based on different presupposition
Younger language learners and success
Relationship between age of acquisition &
eventual achievement (Brown, 2007)
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Lenneberg’s Hypothesis (1967)
Human’s cognitive structure
He cited the CPH (Penfield & Roberts,1959)
Difficulty of acquiring our first language after
puberty, based on neuropsychological
factors.
Age & success in second language learning
Younger learners vs. Older learners
Relationship between age & success in
second language, linked to CPH
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Biologically determined period of life
A period of time between birth & the age of
puberty
Pronunciation vs. writing skills
It’s also known as Sensitive period hypothesis
Second language learners & level of
competence in TL
Fossilized pronunciation
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Introduced by Selinker (1972)
Most adult second language learners never
achieve native-like proficiency in the TL
Their pronunciation continues to interfere
with their ability to communicate effectively
Despite years of language learning and
experience with English
They may seem less fluent or less
professional
Crucial issue: Fossilized accent might linger
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Age
Native language
Length of time using English
Social pressure
Innate ability
Feedback on pronunciation
Attain the original identity
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Used as a simple & direct measure of exposure to
opportunities to learn the language
Immigrants who live in the country for longer
period of time:
Higher level of overall proficiency in English
Or in some aspects of English
Higher frequency of using English than people
who have been in the country for shorter period
of time
Age at immigration associated with English
proficiency in adulthood
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The age of arrival to Canada
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Amount and type of exposure to Community
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Importance of keeping their Iranian identity
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Describe Iranian immigrants families
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A multi-ethnic land (Kurd,Fars,Gilac,Turk,
and Armanian)
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Reasons for immigration
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The USA, Canada, Australia, & Western Europe
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Iranian minority, fastest growing immigrants
categories
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Sociolinguistics consequence
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Prevent them from mixing with Canadian society,
& communicating with Canadians
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Community of Iranian Immigrant Women
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Use of mother tongue, prevent from noticing
their accent
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Existence of several
hundreds mussels for
articulation of human
speech
(Throat, Larynx, Mouth,
Lips, Tongue, ..)
Remarkable degree of
muscular control
Evidence: After the age of
puberty
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The role of age and identity in learning a
second language
And improving accent or pronunciation
Investigate why some older Iranian women in
Canada cannot lose their accents
What exposure they have
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Thirty female native Iranian Women
Arrived between 30-40 years old
At the time of testing ranges from 40-60
Length of residence is at least 8 years
Why Farsi, and Iranian?
Education
First exposure to English
Four MA, Ten college in Canada
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Tested individually, single1 hour session
Diary about the strategies they used to
improve their English learning
Noted about their experiences, insights,
disappointments, and frustrations
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Start : Language background questionnaire
Evaluate use of Farsi & English
Motivation to use English
How long they have lived in Canada?
How old they were?
Their social role (Work, study, Home)
Accent awareness, did something to improve?
Produced sentences to be rated for foreign
accent, (recorded)
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Five native English speakers
Tested for normal hearing
All experts in SLA
Trained before starting the procedure
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Repeated 19 English sentences (twice)
Six sets of tongue twisters
Examine the /θ/, /ð/, /s/, /v/, and /w/
Rating ranges between “very strong
`accent”(1), to “no accent” (9)
Voices were recorded
Mean based on: 150 judgments (6 sentences,
5 listeners,5 duplicate judgments)
*interrater reliability was 84.2% (agreement =16/19 items)
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The questionnaire (adapted from ethno
linguistic questionnaire by Wharry,1993)
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Contains 24 items
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Translated to Farsi
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Effect of age of arrival & length of residency
in Canada in having a foreign accent:
Later the Iranian women had arrived in
Canada, fewer years they have lived here
They have stronger foreign accent
This rating didn’t increase sharply
Those participants with an accent close to
native accent came to Canada at younger age,
or exposed to the language at younger age.
Figure 1
Mean foreign accent rating
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
25
30
35
40
Age of Arrival in Canada
45
50
55
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The findings presented in figure 1 & 2
suggest:
The female Iranians’ degree of foreign accent
did not increase sharply if they lived in
Canada for shorter period of time
Or they arrived in Canada at older ages
There is not strong correlation between the
first exposure to the language and degree of
foreign accent
Figure 2
10
Foreign accent rating
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
Years as a resident in Canada
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
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The findings show:
The more exposure they have to English
speaking community (work, study), less
noticeable accents they have.
One exception
Speakers with more native-like accent find it
less difficult to communicate in English
compare to those with stronger accent
The correlation between difficulty
communicating is negatively related to
foreign accent rating
Figure 3
10
9
Foreign accent rating
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
1
2
3
Difficulty communicating
4
5
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Some problematic sounds for Iranians who
want to learn English:
/θ/, /ð/, /s/, /v/, and /w/
Do not exist in Farsi
Remarkable degree of muscular control is
required to achieve native like proficiency
It’s hard to achieve native like proficiency:
If these muscles are not adapted to articulate
specific sounds until certain age, (age of
puberty)
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According to the questionnaire & diaries:
Twenty four of the participants were aware of
their accents
Nineteen thought it’s important to improve
their accents:
Gain confidence
Eliminate career barriers
Improve their professional image
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Some didn’t want to lose their accents:
Unwillingness to assume another identity
Lack of confidence
Rejection of native like speech
“Might deceive people about their
background and identity”
“Not telling the truth about herself”
“People perceive different things in terms of
cultural & behavioral expectations”
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Some thought they need to improve their
accents because:
To be accepted in the target language society
Find better jobs
Accent prevents them from taken seriously
Face biases, and challenges
Suffer lost opportunities in a society
Native speakers fail to concentrate on the
message
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Whether CPH exist, age should be considered
as an important factor
Two outcomes of this study:
First, the participants’ strength of foreign
accent in English grew stronger as their age
of arrivals in Canada increased
Second, if they have more exposure to the
language (work, study), they have less
noticeable accents compare to those who
stayed at home
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There are several factors that influence
Second language learning:
Age as a key factor in language acquisition
Motivation
Attitude and personality
Dominance of the first language
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Regarding the critical age for acquisition,
acquiring native like pronunciation is
achievable until the age of puberty
As Selinger suggests there might be multiple
critical/sensitive period for different aspects
of language
The period in which acquiring native accent is
easier, seems to end sooner than the period
leading to the acquisition of grammar
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There is a correlation between age and the
ability to learn a new language
Adults who want to learn a new language, but
don’t have enough knowledge about their
second language, seem to fall back easier to
their first language
Then no progress in the second language
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The way the participants learned English in
school prior to their arrival to Canada is not
the efficient way to learn a new language
Krashen mentions the importance of
participation in “meaningful interactions in
the target language” to be able to acquire a
new language.
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Ones who work or study in Canada have less
noticeable accent compare to those who
stayed at home as a housewife
Learning a language to able to function at
work/school is most likely an instrumental
motivation
It also can be at least partly an integrative
motivator
All participants have their personal interest to
become integrated in to the new culture and
the new way of living.
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All participants reported that they try to
improve their ability to communicate in the
new language
Being a housewife might involve fewer
opportunities to participate in a meaningful
interactions in target language.
Can not conclude being a housewife leads to
be less motivated in learning a new language.
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Flexibility of personality
Self esteem, and capability to handle culture
change
*All the participants in this study put an effort
to assimilate into a new culture, and learn a
new language
They didn’t find it difficult to adjust to a new
culture
Assume they all have positive attitude
towards integrating in to the new culture
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Some sound are difficult to learn depending
on the learner’s nationality
Similarity of L1 sounds to L2 sounds make it
more difficult to learn a new sound
At older ages L1 can be more dominating
language compared to L2
Phonetic ability seems to fossilized earlier
than the other linguistics skills*
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According to the questionnaire:
All participants in this study preserved their
first language by using it frequently:
When meeting friends and relatives
Reading Persian books and magazines
Visiting their home country
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Pronunciation doesn’t receive enough academic
attention as other aspects of SLA
It’s a great concern to many second language
learners in Canada
Derwing(2003) found out 95% of immigrants would
choose to speak like native speakers(if they could)
Foreign accent discrimination
Fossilization, natural & normal stage for many
learners
Michael Long(2003) suggests stabilization instead of
fossilization
It leaves open the possibility of change and
improvements
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Second language learners seem inflexible to
necessary changes
Being successful entails:
Preparing learners to change
Encouraging them to make an actual effort to
do so
Carefully analyzing their situation & resources
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The crucial element in employing a general
strategy for dealing with fossilized accent is
getting them prepared to make the
considerable changes
Inform them how pronunciation, or more
specifically intelligibility can be improved by
techniques aimed at changing those other
behaviors
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Consider that speakers should have
acceptable pronunciation
People should understand what they say
Speakers’ English is pleasant to listen to
(comfortably intelligible)
Teachers should be well-trained
Provide precise feedback on segmentals and
suprasegmentals problem
Suprasegmentals aspects of pronunciation
are important to intelligibility
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Ensure to correct prosodic errors beside
individual words
Focus on errors which have more effect on
intelligibility (ex: sentence stress)
Hahn(2004) declares, sentence stress has
significant effect on comprehensibility and
intelligibility
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Highlighting elements:
sounds, syllables, stress, and intonation
Encourage them to use intelligible
pronunciation outside the classroom
Creating a stronger link between
pronunciation and communication
Bringing pronunciation to a level of
intelligibility
Learner’s awareness of his/her potential for
making their language not only easier to
understand, but more effective
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This study investigated the correlation
between age & accent fossilization
The other factors that can cause accent
fossilization
How to improve fossilized accent
By analyzing the participants background
information I realized:
Although age is a very important factor in
SLA, there are other factors that can influence
it
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Younger learners are probably more open to
learn languages
But adults commitment to work and study in
the new country is a strong motivator:
To engage in activities that promote the
progress of the language acquisition
Finally, it is concluded that mastering a
correct English accent & pronunciation in a
second language is a skill that takes an
unknown amount of time to obtain.

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