Global Accentedness in Children Enrolled in a Mandarin-English Bilingual Program

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  • The aim of this project was to pilot a study of perceived accentedness in the speech of students enrolled in Mandarin-English bilingual elementary schools in Edmonton. Seventeen students from Kindergarten to Grade Six were recorded repeating three sentences in Mandarin and three sentences in English. Their parents completed a questionnaire adapted from the Alberta Language Environment Questionnaire to determine a language richness score in each language based on language exposure and use outside of school. Students’ first language was reported to be English (8), Mandarin (3), or Cantonese (6). Three native-English-speaking raters listened to the recorded English sentences, and provided an accentedness rating for each sentence. Three native-Mandarin-speaking raters did the same for the Mandarin sentences. A correlational analysis was conducted to determine the relationship between global accentedness ratings, age of onset, length of exposure, and richness scores in each language. Accentedness ratings in English were relatively low for all participants, regardless of L1, reflecting the role of English as the majority language in the community. Accentedness ratings were significantly correlated with length of exposure in Mandarin, but not in English. Replication with a larger and more evenly distributed sample is necessary. Recommendations for methodological refinement are provided and address participants, stimuli, and the parent questionnaire.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International