Dissertation > Language, writing > Chinese > Chinese language teaching > Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language

Acoustic Feature-based Pronunciation Test on Non-native Speakers of Chinese First Level Vowels

Author YongQiong
Tutor XiaoYunNan
School Hunan University
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords pronunciation test acoustic property Chinese first level vowels rating criteria
CLC H195
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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In order to meet the needs of foreign students who come to China to further theirstudy, many universities in Chinese mainland have launched classes of teachingChinese a foreign language. As the basis of teaching Chinese as a foreign language,Chinese pronunciation teaching is both the key and difficult point. Pronunciationtesting is regarded as one of the effective means to promote the pronunciation teaching.At present, HSK (HànyǔShuǐpíng Kǎoshì汉语水平考试) has adopted the Chinesepronunciation testing for non-native speakers in which scores are given by raters basedon their experience. Besides, there exists the relatively higher cost and high laborintensity on the testing, and the rating criteria is hard to be agreed upon, which resultsin the problem of rating reliability. Therefore, how to scientifically and accuratelymeasure the pronunciation problems of non-native speakers is the hot spot in the filedof language testing on Chinese pronunciation.On account of the deficiencies and shortcoming of the traditional pronunciationtesting method, this study is designed to target at seven Chinese core first level vowelsfrom the perspective of acoustic phonetics and experimental phonetics with the aim todiscuss both the rating criterion and rating methods. The major work of this studyincludes:1. From the perspective of acoustic phonetics, this study proposes how to applythe acoustic feature of the vowels, i.e. the vowel formant value in the pronunciationtesting on Chinese first level vowels.2. Based on the formant values, this study explores the possibility to quantify thehypothesized CAP three level rating scale and provides the referenced quantifiedranges.3. By referring to the abstracted formant values and the rating results, this studygeneralizes the typical problems on non-native speakers’ production of Chinese firstlevel vowels with the comparison with the pronunciation of native speakers.Through the pronunciation analysis software Praat, this study extracts the acousticparameter formant values of participants’ pronunciation. In terms of the formant values,it does a comparison between the participants’ pronunciation and the standardreferenced one and manages to quantify the hypothesized CAP three level ratingscales.Results show that it is feasible to conduct the Chinese pronunciation testing based on the acoustic features of vowels. Formant values of vowels and acoustic vowel chartsdo help in pronunciation test on Chinese first level vowels; CAP three level hypothesesto some degree is defined to certain statistic ranges. As for the seven Chinese firstlevel vowels, participants’ correct pronunciation can be well distinguished from theiracceptable pronunciation, but on their pronunciation of vowels [,] how todifferentiate the acceptable range from the problematic range still remains to be furtherstudied; The main errors non-native speakers make on pronouncing seven Chinese firstlevel vowels are represented by the comparatively laxer and more central position oftongue in pronouncing vowels like [a,i,u,]. While the pronunciation of vowels like [y,,] are featured by the unstable positions of tongue. Non-native speakers have greaterdifficulty in distinguishing the syllabic apico approximates [,].

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