A Comparison of Phonological and Articulation-based Approaches to Accent Modification Using Small Groups

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Accent modification, Bilingualism, phonology, speech-language Pathology

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Objectives: The purpose of the current study was to compare the effectiveness of a phonologically based accent modification treatment to an articulation/motor based treatment with Spanish-speaking adult learners of English using a small group model. In addition, the study examined which approach was more effective at treating specific phonological transfers and specific segments and what other factors modulated improvement in production accuracy.

Method: Ten participants were randomly assigned to two groups. One group received accent modification treatment using an articulation/segment based approach, while the other used a phonological/contrast based approach. Treatment lasted seven weeks. Participants were recorded producing a 140-word list pre- and post-treatment to assess for improvement after treatment in both accuracy of word production and use of target phonological transfers.

Results: Results indicated significant differences between the pre- and post-treatment accuracy scores; however, there was not a significant difference in overall improvement between the two groups. Improvement in transfer patterns that required a new phonological structure (e.g., the insertion of a vowel before /s/ clusters) were more likely to improve than those that required the formation of a new phoneme category (e.g., accurate production of interdental fricatives).

Conclusions: It appears that an articulation-based approach may be more effective for treating vowels, at least with Spanish-speaking learners of English in the early stages of English fluency. Caution should be taken with results as it may not be generalizable to populations with different language backgrounds.

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Speech, Language and Hearing, in press