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

3.2.1. Subjects

Non classé

As the objective of the experiment is to investigate the importance of prosody in the
production of English by French EFL learners, in comparison with the importance of
segments, it was necessary to find an even number of native French speakers. The subjects
who participated in the experiment were recruited through oral announcements at the
beginning of English classes(1), posters that were hung around the buildings of the University
of Lille III, and personal contact. Then, those who were interested were given a questionnaire
of selection in French to fill in (Appendix A), enquiring about their native language, age,
current course of study, and age at which they started English, among other things. The first
important condition to be selected was that they had never studied English phonetics at
university level, so that they could not be influenced by phonetic lessons in their production
of English. Given the objective of this study, French nationality and French as their native
language, with no second language, were required. These major criteria also served to allow
future application to the field of EFL teaching in France.

After a careful reading of the questionnaires, ten adult students were selected (see
Appendix B for more details about them) at the University of Lille III and the secondary
school Lycée Fernand Darchicourt in Hénin-Beaumont (Pas-de-Calais). Six of them were
females, and four were males. They all were between 18 and 22 years old, with a mean age of
20.2 years. They were either in the last year of secondary education (Terminale), or had just
finished it and started higher education. None of them was, e.g., a middle-aged person
taking up his/her studies after a break. The subjects that were chosen had continuously
studied English as a Foreign Language, and exclusively in school context. They had never
been to an English-speaking country for more than two weeks, and had no English relatives;
they were not bilinguals. None of them was doing an English degree; they were nonspecialists
and had a similar level of English – with an average mark of 12 out of 20 in
English at school. The mean age at which they started English was 9.8 years, corresponding
to the end of primary school for all of them. If one follows Lenneberg’s (1967) theory, the
subjects used in the experiment had passed the Critical Period and were considered as late
learners, so they were supposed to be unable to attain native-like pronunciation. The
participants were unpaid to do the experiment.

The real difficulty that we came up against in finding only ten volunteers, especially male
ones, is quite telling. It brings further evidence that French speakers face problems and
difficulties with English pronunciation (cf. Chapter 1). Most of the time, students said that
they would not participate either because they simply did not like spoken English, or
because they were ashamed of their “bad pronunciation”, even though it was made perfectly
clear that this was not to be a problem to become a subject of the experiment.

1 I wish to thank Sarah Christine Lloyd, Anne Molloy, and Jenny Salata, who allowed me to come
and make announcements during their classes.

Page suivante : 3.2.2. Experimental procedure