The effects of metaphonological awareness training on L3 Mandarin tone acquisition by Cantonese learners

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-407
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number2
Online published20 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2023


According to the speech learning model [Flege, J. E. (1995). Second language speech learning: Theory, findings, and problems. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research (pp. 233–277). York Press], learners whose first language (L1) is a tonal language (e.g. Cantonese) can be confused by similar yet different tones in their L1 and another tonal language (e.g. Mandarin). Encouraged by the biliteracy and trilingualism language policy in Hong Kong, L1 Cantonese learners of Mandarin have been committed to learning the third language (L3) Mandarin tones but are struggling with that task. The main purpose of this study is to examine Cantonese learners’ perceptions and production of Mandarin tones, and to investigate learners’ performance in production tasks before and after implementing metaphonological awareness protocols. Twenty-five Cantonese learners studying at a local university were recruited to complete the production, perception and verbal protocol tasks. Based on Wrembel’s [2015. Metaphonologcial awareness in multilinguals: A case of L3 Polish. Language Awareness, 24(1), 60–83.] framework, this study categorised the participants’ statements of metaphonological awareness shown in their self-correction and self-reflection performances in the introspective and retrospective protocols. The error rates and patterns in the production and perception tasks were analysed. Metaphonological awareness training has a significant positive effect on improving learners’ Mandarin tone pronunciation. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Research Area(s)

  • Mandarin tone, metaphonological awareness, verbal protocols