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Teaching of Japanese Simplex Accent Patterns based on the Verbotonal Method
Japanese pitch accent
Different accent types of Chinese and Japanese are a major source of accent errors for Chinese learning Japanese. Chinese has four tonal accents in which the pitch continuously changes in a syllable. In contrast, Japanese accents mark relative pitch differences between moras and once the pitch falls it can never rise. Due to this difference, learners sometimes produce wrong accent patterns. Therefore, a more effective instruction for Japanese prosody must be developed. In this paper, we investigate a teaching method of Japanese simplex accents in terms of the Verbotonal method (VT) which emphasizes physical activity in language learning. Based on previous studies of Japanese accent teaching, we designed an experiment to evaluate effects of an explicit instruction of Japanese simplex accents. We selected 32 Japanese words with the initial accent pattern and the unaccented flat pattern. Participants were 18 Chinese speakers learning Japanese. They were divided into two groups, one with the VT method and the other with the graphical instruction on accent patterns. The result was that although both groups showed a considerable improvement in accentuation after the instruction (20.01%), there was no significant difference between them. On the other hand, we found that the group with low-level Japanese abilities showed much improvement in accentuation after the instruction, regardless of method. These results suggest that we must test effects of the VT method with respect to different levels of language ability, i.e. beginners vs. advanced learners.
広島大学大学院総合科学研究科紀要. I, 人間科学研究
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