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Are orthographic effects language specific? The influence of second language orthography on second language phoneme awareness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2016

University of Saskatchewan
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This research investigated first language (L1) and second language (L2) orthographic effects on L2 phoneme perception. Twenty-five native English learners of Russian (n = 13) and Mandarin (n = 12) participated in an auditory phoneme counting task, using stimuli organized along two parameters: consistency and homophony. The learners more successfully counted phonemes in L2 words with consistent letter–phoneme correspondences (e.g., всё /fsʲɔ/, three letters/three phonemes) than in words with inconsistent correspondences (e.g., звать /zvatʲ/, five letters/four phonemes), indicating that L2 phoneme awareness is influenced by L2 orthography and that orthographic effects are not limited to the L1. In addition, the lack of any L1 homophone effects suggests that L2 orthographic effects overrode any potential L1 orthographic interference for these intermediate-level learners, suggesting orthographic effects may be language specific.

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