Gagne de la cryptomonnaie GRATUITE en 5 clics et aide institut numérique à propager la connaissance universitaire >> CLIQUEZ ICI <<

1.3. Conclusion

Non classé

Although they are treated in separate sections in this work, segmentals and suprasegmentals
are interdependent, whatever the language, since together they form the phonological
system of a language. For example, the learning of lexical stress and rhythm implies the
notions of vowel reduction, schwa, etc. Errors and difficulties involving both individual
sounds and prosody have an impact on intelligibility and foreign-accentedness and may
become an impediment to communication, hence the necessity to include both aspects in L2
pronunciation teaching.

Even if prosody is often overlooked in EFL pronunciation teaching, its importance is just as
undeniable as that of vowels and consonants. Furthermore, it has been seen that
suprasegmental errors actually lead to many segmental errors, thus pointing to a more
significant role played by the global structure of the language than by segments. The
Swedish phonetician Thorén (2008: 21) affirms: “a large number of teaching colleagues agree
that certain prosodic elements in L2 Swedish tend to conceal many segmental deviations”. If
suprasegmental features have such importance, which is increasingly acknowledged by
experts, then one may wonder why it is the segments that are mainly taught in L2
pronunciation teaching. English teachers in France may be wrong to focus on that particular
aspect of phonology, going as far as ignoring rhythm altogether, sometimes. A possible
explanation for that is suggested by Jilka (2000):

Seen from a strictly linguistic point of view, one might assume that the native
speakers of a language that itself is not very sensitive to linguistically relevant
aspects of prosody will pay not as much conscious attention to such features in
the foreign-accented productions of non-native speakers. (2)

The fact that prosody in French does not have the same function as it does in English is
probably one of the main reasons why French-speaking learners and sometimes teachers of
English do not realize the importance of acquiring the L2 prosody.

This first chapter has been a theoretical account that illustrates the need for a shift in focus
in English pronunciation teaching, and our experiment, explained in Chapter 3, is an attempt
at providing evidence for that. A suprasegmental training including stress-timing and
tonicity may have a better effect on learners’ production skills than a standard segmental
training, and accordingly, suprasegmental errors may have a worse effect to the native
speaker’s ears than segmental errors. The account of recurrent difficulties by French learners
reported above serves as a basis for the elaboration of stimuli through which it will become
possible to compare the weight of segmental errors with that of prosodic errors in

Before giving ample detail about the experimental procedure, the next section is an
overview of the existing literature on the acquisition of English phonology as a first language
and as a second/foreign language. A constant parallel between the acquisition of segments
and the acquisition of suprasegments is drawn.