Hand-clapping to the rhythm of newly learned words improves L2 pronunciation: Evidence from Catalan and Chinese learners of French

Florence Baills, Yuan Zhang, Pilar Prieto


Previous research has shown that rhythmic training enhances phonological speech processing (e.g., [1, 2, 3, 4]). Yet little is known about whether rhythmic training can also help to improve pronunciation in a second language (but see [5, 6, 7]). This study tests the potential benefits of hand-clapping to the rhythm of newly learned French words for the acquisition of pronunciation patterns by Catalan children and Chinese adolescents. In two between-subjects experiments with a pretest and posttest design, participants either repeated words while clapping the rhythmic structure of words or only repeated the words. The French target words were very similar to their lexical counterparts in Catalan, whereas they differed completely from Chinese. Participants’ oral production before and after training was rated for accentedness by three French native speakers. Results showed a significant improvement for the clapping group among the Catalan participants, whereas only a near significant tendency appeared for the Chinese adolescents. Individual musical abilities did not interact significantly with the results in either experiment but working memory played a significant role in Chinese participants’ pronunciation. The results show that a short phonological training session based on highlighting the rhythmic structure of words seems to help improve pronunciation in a foreign language as long as there is little demand placed on semantic processing.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-172

Cite as: Baills, F., Zhang, Y., Prieto, P. (2018) Hand-clapping to the rhythm of newly learned words improves L2 pronunciation: Evidence from Catalan and Chinese learners of French. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 853-857, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-172.


@inproceedings{Baills2018,
  author={Florence Baills and Yuan Zhang and Pilar Prieto},
  title={Hand-clapping to the rhythm of newly learned words improves L2 pronunciation: Evidence from Catalan and Chinese learners of French},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={853--857},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-172},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-172}
}