Author: Robert J Neal
Date of Publication: February 2014
Series Title: Scottish Languages Review
Notes: Issue 27
This study investigates the tonal production of five Anglophone young beginner learners of Mandarin Chinese and their ability to notice and self-correct their tonal errors during and after speech production. Set within the context of learning Chinese at a comprehensive secondary school in the north of England and adopting a case study research design, the aim of the study was to identify major barriers impeding successful tonal acquisition and to propose appropriate pedagogical interventions. The largest obstacle hindering tonal acquisition appeared to be due to participants’ inherent unfamiliarity with tones, as evidenced by their general inability to notice or correct their tonal errors during a stimulated recall interview. A combination of more explicit instruction which focussed on providing learners with a deeper understanding of the formal tonal system, with the more implicit teaching methods currently employed, was proposed as a suitable pedagogical strategy.
Keywords: Mandarin Chinese, tones, procedural knowledge, declarative knowledge