SLaTE 2015 - Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education

Leipzig, Germany
September 4-5, 2015

Self-imitation in Prosody Training: a Study on Japanese Learners of Italian

Elisa Pellegrino, Debora Vigliano

University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy

The proficiency in a second language is fully attained only if students have learnt to modulate the rhythmic and prosodic parameters equivalent to those of the native speakers. This study is aimed to test the pedagogical effectiveness of the selfimitation technique for the purpose of developing a native-like prosodic competence. Seven intermediate Japanese learners of Italian (NNSs) and 2 native Italian speakers (NSs) were involved in a read speech activity. NSs and NNSs were asked to read and record two Italian sentences conveying three different pragmatic functions (granting, order, request). NNSs performed the task twice, before and after the self-imitation prosodic training. The items used for the training were obtained by transferring the suprasegmental features of the native speakers, used as donors, to the Japanese learners, considered as the receivers. During the training phase, Japanese learners mimic their utterances previously modified to match the prosody of the reference native speaker, and then recorded the new performance. Seventeen native Italian listeners rated pre- and post-training productions for pragmatic function and accentedness. The results indicate that selfimitation promoted an improvement in learners’ performances in terms of communicative effectiveness. Conversely, average rate of accentedness does not change significantly before and after training.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Pellegrino, Elisa / Vigliano, Debora (2015): "Self-imitation in prosody training: a study on Japanese learners of Italian", In SLaTE-2015, 53-57.