Effects of Corrective Feedback on Early and Late L2 Learners’ Perception of /θ/-/s/

Ying Li


This study explores whether both early and late second language (L2) learners are able to benefit from instructionthat includes corrective feedback (CF) on the perception of L2 speech sounds. It is a classroom-based study. Fourgroups of participants with less than 60% accuracy in the perception of /θ/-/s/ were recruited. They were allMandarin speakers of English. Group 1 (n=30, mean age: 21.23) and group 2 (n=16; mean age=20.31) began L2English study at or before 7 years old, whilst group 3 (n=29; mean age=19.48) and group 4 (n=17; mean age=20.56)started L2 English learning at or after the age of 12. Group 1 and group 3 went through a four-week programme ofform-focused lessons that drew their attention to the non-native contrast /θ/-/s/; they were given feedback during theawareness task. Group 2 and group 4 went through another four weeks of form-focused lessons with the sameinstruction and awareness tasks, except that no feedback was given during the awareness tasks. All the participants’accuracy regarding the perception of /θ/-/s/ was tested before the lessons (pre-test), immediately after the lessons(post-test), and one month after the lessons (delayed test). The results show that (1) compared with the pre-test, thefour groups all received some degree of improvement in the post-test and delayed test, yet group 1 and group 3displayed significantly higher accuracy than group 2 and group 4; (2) unexpectedly, the difference between group 1and group 3 as well as the difference between group 2 and group 4 was statistically insignificant. The findingssuggested that instruction with corrective feedback could be effective both in facilitating early and late learners’perception of non-native speech sounds. The effect of onset age on L2 learning, however, may not be overstated inL2 speech learning.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v6n1p14

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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