This study investigated second language (L2) learners’ perception of L2 sounds as an individual difference that predicted their improvement in pronunciation after receiving instruction. Learners were given explicit pronunciation instruction in a series of modules added to their Spanish as a foreign language curriculum and were then tested on their pronunciation accuracy. Their perception of the target sounds was measured with an AX discrimination task. Though the best predictor of pronunciation posttest score was pretest score, perception made a unique and significant contribution. The other factors associated with better pronunciation of some L2 sounds were time spent using Spanish outside the classroom, age, and attitude. The results suggest that instructors should give adequate time for learners to hone their perception of target sounds at the outset of pronunciation instruction, because their initial ability to perceive the target sounds will in part determine how much they learn from such instruction. The results support models of L2 speech acquisition that claim that target-like perception is a precursor to target-like production, in this case in a formal learning context.

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Post-print Article

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Copyright © 2014, University of Toronto Press. The definitive version is available at:

DOI: 10.3138/cmlr.2161.

Full Citation:

Kissling, Elizabeth M. "What Predicts the Effectiveness of Foreign Language Pronunciation Instruction?: Investigating the Role of Perception and Other Individual Differences." Canadian Modern Language Review 70, no. 4 (November 2014): 535-58. doi:10.3138/cmlr.2161.