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Literacy and prosody The case of low-literate Senegalese learners of L2 Italian Marta Maffia and Anna De Meo University of Naples “L’Orientale” LESLLA.

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Presentation on theme: "Literacy and prosody The case of low-literate Senegalese learners of L2 Italian Marta Maffia and Anna De Meo University of Naples “L’Orientale” LESLLA."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Literacy and prosody The case of low-literate Senegalese learners of L2 Italian Marta Maffia and Anna De Meo University of Naples “L’Orientale” LESLLA Conference Nijmegen, August 2014

3 Outline of the talk Introductory issues Research questions The study Conclusions Implications for L2 Italian teaching Literacy and oracy in L1 and L2 Low-literate learners Prosodic competence Literacy in Senegal The Senegalese immigration Speakers Task Perceptive and Spectroacoustic analyses Results

4 Bigelow & Tarone 2004 Koda 2005, Wang, Koda & Perfetti 2003, Bialystok 2002, Cummins 1991, Collier 1989 Studies on literacy and phonological awareness in L1 Morais et al. 1979, 1986; Adrian et al. 1995; Reis & Castro Caldas 1997; Dellatolas et al L1 Literacy and L2 Oracy: – “simplifying” vs “elaborating” path ( Tarone, Bigelow & Hansen 2009) – Development of oral skills during classroom practice (Strube, van de Craats, van Hout 2013)

5 The prosodic competence No attention has been given to literacy and prosody, despite the growing interest toward the prosodic aspects of interlanguage: – Prosodic tranfer – Prosody and speech acts – Prosody and emotional states Aoyama - Guion 2007; Trouvain - Gute 2007; De Meo - Pettorino 2011; Maffia et al. 2014

6 Literacy in Senegal Adult literacy rates below 50% (UNESCO 2012) L1: Wolof, Pulaar, Diola… Orality L2: French or Arabic Literacy French SchoolKoranic School Different educational approaches Fall 2011, Cisse 2005, Gandolfi 2003

7 The Senegalese immigration in Naples Individual migration and instability The profile of the Senegalese immigrant SexMale AgeOver 35 Marital statusUnmarried FamilySenegal Issue of the permitSelf employment Maffia et al., paper presented in 2013

8 Research questions What is the relationship between L1 literacy and L2 oral skills in the case of low-literate Senegalese immigrants learners of L2 italian? Do the different models of literacy in L1 have a diversificate effect on the development of the prosodic competence (intonation and rhythm) in L2? In teaching L2 Italian, is it possible to take in account the different skills developed by learners in their L1 literacy processes?

9 The speakers The learners (L2 Italian) The control group (L1 Italian) N. 205 Sex MM Mean Age 3129 Nationality SenegaleseItalian Educational background 10 French school (FS) 10 Koranic school (KS) - Years in Italy From 1 to 6-

10 The school attended is not necessarily linked to a high competence level in the language used as vehicle of literacy (Arabic or French). The linguistic competences Wolof A1/A2 - CEFR Koran (no comunicative competence) 0-2 ( levels of OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) according to a literacy test evaluated by experts

11 The elicited imitation task 18 L1 Italian stimuli Male and female voices (Lazio and Campania Region) Different degrees of complexity: sentence length, morphosyntactic structure, lexical frequency, pitch contour. Christensen et al. 2010; Graham et al Assertions, questions, orders Random order No visual support! The task was successfully performed by the native Italian control group. The task Participants were asked to listen to Italian stimuli only once and to imitate them, regardless of the understanding of their meaning.

12 The model voices Simple Utterance Complex Utterance - 6 syll. - Simple morphosyntactic structure - Fundamental vocabulary - Question - 20 syll. - Complex morphosyntactic structure - Non-basic vocabulary - Question

13 The corpus 324 utterances… 12 x 20 senegalese 12 x 5 italians 12 x 2 model voices Totally about 3000 syllables were computed and about 10 minutes of speech were analysed. … divided in 2 levels of complexity: 1: 5 – 10 syll. 2: 11 – 20 syll.

14 The analyses The perceptive analysis 10 Italian native speakers (9F, 1M) Experienced teachers of L2 Italian No competence in phonetics They were asked to transcribe the imitations and to rate them in terms of: - accuracy - type of errors + prosodic performance The spectroacoustic analysis – Duration of segments (sec) – Duration of syllables (sec) – Durations of silent pauses (sec) – F1 and F2 of vowels – F0 of vowels (Hertz semitones) Wavesurfer 1.8 Praat

15 SIMPLE UTTERANCES (5-10 syll.)

16 SIMPLE UTTERANCES Input and imitations Model FS KS Both groups of learners could easily memorize and imitate the model utterances at least from the textual point of view

17 SIMPLE UTTERANCES The perceptive analysis - accuracy 54% 48% Correct imitations

18 Segmental pronunciation OtherMorphosyntactic Lexical SIMPLE UTTERANCES The perceptive analysis – type of errors

19 A scale from 1 to 3: 1: no prosodic imitation 2: partial prosodic imitation 3: effective prosodic imitation AssertionQuestionOrder FS KS SIMPLE UTTERANCES The perceptive analysis – prosodic performance

20 Corpus: level 1 (5-10 syll.) – r correlation coefficient Rilliard et al. 2011, Hermes 1998 – Average values of F0 – Standard deviation – Tonal Range SIMPLE UTTERANCES The spectroacoustic analysis - intonational level

21 Models Imitation ± st. d. KS ITA ASSERTION av. val. FS female model QUESTION

22 AssertionQuestionOrder r mod – FS r mod – KS r mod – ita Mean values of r correlation coefficient between model utterances and imitations for group of speakers and speech act. r correlation coefficient As for pitch contour and tonal range, learners from Koranic school seem to better imitate simple and short utterances SIMPLE UTTERANCES The spectroacoustic analysis - results

23 Not enough time is spent to give proper attention to the suprasegmental level in L2 Italian classroom Poor prosodic sensitivity of L2 Italian teachers They are not able to recognize and valorize the prosodic skills of (some) learners They just focus on prosodic macro-categories (as questions) Further research is needed Contradiction between the results of the perceptive analysis and those of the spectroacoustic analysis.

24 COMPLEX UTTERANCES (11-20 syll.)

25 All the learners found the utterances difficult to imitate because of their basic competence in L2 Italian and the lower effect of short-term memory. But… …the two groups performed the task in a different way Model FS Model KS COMPLEX UTTERANCES Input and imitations

26 No correct imitations COMPLEX UTTERANCES The perceptive analysis - accuracy

27 Segmental pronunciation OtherMorphosyntactic Lexical COMPLEX UTTERANCES The perceptive analysis – type of errors

28 A scale from 1 to 3: 1: no prosodic imitation 2: partial prosodic imitation 3: effective prosodic imitation AssertionQuestionOrder FS KS COMPLEX UTTERANCES The perceptive analysis – prosodic performance

29 COMPLEX UTTERANCES French School - partial imitations ModelsImitations 1. Interruptions 2. Silent pauses 3. Repetitions 4. Substitutions

30 COMPLEX UTTERANCES Koranic School - partial imitations BEGINNING ModelsImitations END MUMBLING

31 COMPLEX UTTERANCES The spectroacoustic analysis - the mumbling Syllable structure: CV Stops, nasal and fricative + central vowel Regular rhythmical structure Flat pitch contour

32 Conclusions The results of the spectroacoustic analysis indicate that there is a relationship between the model of literacy in the L1 and the development of oral skills in the L2. Complex interaction among two levels Rhythmic-ProsodicTextual

33 Conclusions Complex interaction among two levels In the imitations of learners from French School the textual level is characterized by a higher level of accuracy. When they can’t memorize the text, also rhythm and intonation are not reproduced. Textual Rhythmic-Prosodic

34 Conclusions Learners from Koranic school can better imitate the pitch contour and rhythm of simple and short utterances. The rhythmical level resists even in the absence of text and intonation (“mumbling”). Textual Rhythmic-Prosodic Complex interaction among two levels

35 Some implications for L2 Italian teaching A greater and more trained sensitivity to the suprasegmental level is required for L2 (Italian) teachers. More time needs to be spent on teaching prosody in L2 (Italian) classrooms. Different language teaching methods for L2 Italian have to be used in order to valorize different skills developed by different learners (even in the case of low-literate speakers) in their previous educational path.

36 Thanks for your attention!


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