L3 phonology : contributions of L1 and L2 to L3 pronunciation learning by Hong Kong speakers

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-512
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number4
Online published6 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


The study aimed to investigate the influence of 24 Hong Kong learners’ first and second languages (L1 and L2–Cantonese and English, respectively) on the acquisition of Mandarin as a third language (L3) and to discuss how multilingual learners acquire L3 pronunciation features. The most frequent phonological features in L2 English and L3 Mandarin pronunciations were first analysed and reported. A questionnaire survey and a follow up interview were then conducted. The results of the feature analyses show that the most frequent errors in L2 English pronunciation were /ð/→/d/ and /v/→/f/ among consonants and absence of contrasts between /ɪ ʊ/ and /iː uː/, and the most common errors in L3 Mandarin were h→k and n→l among consonants, engang within vowels, and confusion of tone change. The questionnaire responses indicated that the learners’ perceptions generally agreed with their actual phonological productions. The learners made use of pronunciation strategies in their L2 and L3 pronunciation learning. The interview data revealed the impact of typological distance, L2 and L3 language proficiency levels, and phonological properties of L1 on language interaction.

Research Area(s)

  • L2/L3 phonology, phonological transfer, pronunciation learning and teaching