Varying Shades of Hearing

An Overview of Tone Perception Studies in L2 Mandarin Chinese

Authors

  • Xiaoshi Li Michigan State University
  • Qian Luo University College London
  • Jie Liu Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
  • Catherine Ryu Michigan State University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/rtcfl.22908

Keywords:

Mandarin Chinese tone learning, tone perception, experiment design

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of 18 studies from over five decades that have investigated L2 Mandarin Chinese tone perception and the factors influencing it. We examine (1) varying patterns of difficulty of L2 Chinese tone perception and (2) the experiment designs that researchers have used to assess their reported patterns of difficulty. This review delineates the complexity of the current picture of difficulty in L2 Chinese tone perception. By analyzing a set of key issues that this investigation has unveiled, we propose new directions for future research that can enhance experiment designs and pedagogical approaches to tone teaching, while illuminating their intimate connections.

References

Best, C. T. (1995). A direct realist view of cross-language speech perception: New directions in research and theory. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Theoretical and Methodological Issues, 171–204. York, UK: York Press.

Best, C. T., McRoberts, G. W., and Goodell, E. (2001). Discrimination of non-native consonant contrasts varying in perceptual assimilation to the listener’s native phono­logical system. Journal of Acoustic Society of America, 109: 775–794. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/10.1121/1.1332378

Blicher, D. L., Diehl, R. L., and Cohen, L. B. (1990). Effects of syllable duration on the per­ception of the Mandarin Tone 2/Tone 3 distinction: Evidence of auditory enhance­ment. Journal of Phonetics. 18 (1): 37--49. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1990-27412-001

Broselow, E., Hurtig, R., and Ringen, C. (1987). The perception of second language prosody. In G. Ioup and S. Weinberger (Eds.), Interlanguage Phonology, 350–362. New York: Newbury House.

Chandrasekaran, B., Sampath, P. D., and Wong, P. C. (2010). Individual variability in cue-weighting and lexical tone learning. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128 (1), 456–465.

Chao, Y. (1968). A grammar of spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chun, D. M., Jiang, Y., Meyr, J., & Yang, R. (2015). Acquisition of L2 Mandarin Chinese tones with learner-created tone visualizations. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 1 (1): 86–114.

Cooper, A., and Wang, Y. (2012). The influence of linguistic and musical experience on Cantonese word learning. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131 (6), 4756–4769.

Dickerson, L. (1974). Internal and external patterning of phonological variability in the speech of Japanese learners of English: Toward a theory of second language acquisition. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ding, H., Hoffmann, R., and Jokisch, O. (2011). An investigation of tone perception and production in German learners of Mandarin. Archives of Acoustics, 36 (3): 509–518. https://doi.org/10.2478/v10168-011-0036-6

Fu, Q., and Zeng, F. (2000). Identification of temporal envelope cues in Chinese tone recognition. Asia Pacific Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing, 5 (45): 45–57.

Gandour, J. T., and Harshman, R. A. (1978). Crosslanguage differences in tone perception: A multidimensional scaling investigation. Language and Speech, 21 (1): 1–33. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383097802100101

Garding, E., Kratochvil, P., Svantesson, J.-O., and Zhang, J. (1986). Tone 4 and Tone 3 discrimination in modern standard Chinese. Language and Speech, 29 (3): 281–293. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383098602900307

Han, Y., Goudbeek, M., Mos, M., and Swerts, M. (2019). Effects of modality and speaking style on Mandarin tone identification by non-native listeners. Phonetica, 76: 263–286. https://doi.org/10.1159/000489174

Han, Y., Goudbeek, M., Mos, M., and Swerts, M. (2020). Relative contribution of auditory and visual information to Mandarin Chinese tone identification by native and tone-naive listeners. Language and Speech, 63 (4): 856–876. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830919889995

Hao, Y.-C. (2012). Second language acquisition of Mandarin Chinese tones by tonal and non-tonal language speakers. Journal of Phonetics, 40 (2): 269–279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2011.11.001

Henry, C. K. (2017). The Effects of Type of Instruction on the Initial Stages of L2 Perception and Production of Tones in Mandarin Chinese. Master Thesis. Concordia University.

Howie, J. M. (1976). Acoustical Studies of Mandarin Vowels and Tones (Vol. 6). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hu, S. (2015). Cross-linguistic Perception of Pitch Position. Master Thesis. Universiteit Utrecht.

Kiriloff, C. (1969). On the auditory perception of tones in Mandarin. Phonetica, 20 (2–4): 63–67. https://doi.org/10.1159/000259274

Labov, W. (1963). The social motivation of a sound change. Word, 19 (3): 273–307. https://doi.org/10.1080/00437956.1963.11659799

Labov, W. (1966). The social stratification of English in New York City. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Lee, C.-Y., Tao, L., and Bond, Z. S. (2010). Identification of acoustically modified Mandarin tones by non-native listeners. Language and Speech, 53 (2): 217–243. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830909357160

Li, X. (2014). Variation in subject pronominal expression in L2 Chinese. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36 (1): 39–68. doi:10.1017/S0272263113000466

Li, X., To, C. K. S., and Ng, M. L. (2017). Effects of L1 tone on perception of L2 tone—A study of Mandarin tone learning by native Cantonese children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 20 (3): 549–560. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728916000195

Massaro, D. W., Cohen, M. M., and Tseng, C. (1985). The evaluation and integration of pitch height and pitch contour in lexical tone perception in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 267–289.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd Edition). Cambridge University Press.

Perrachione, T. K., Lee, J., Ha, L. Y., and Wong, P. C. (2011). Learning a novel phonological contrast depends on interactions between individual differences and training paradigm design. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130 (1): 461–472. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3593366

Saito, K., and Wu, X. (2014). Communicative focus on form and second language supra­segmental learning: Teaching Cantonese learners to perceive Mandarin tones. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36 (4): 647–680. https://doi.org.10.1017/S0272263114000114

Schaefer, V., and Darcy, I. (2014). Linguistic prominence of pitch within the native language determines accuracy of tone processing. In R. T. Miller, K. I. Martin, C. M. Eddington, A. Henery, N. M. Miguel, A. M. Tseng, A. Tuninetti, and D. Walter (Eds.), Selected Proceedings of the 2012 Second Language Research Forum, 1–14. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Publishing.

Shi, J. (2007). On teaching tone three in Mandarin. Journal-Chinese Language Teachers Association, 42 (2): 1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23754439

Silpachai, A. (2020). The role of talker variability in the perceptual learning of Mandarin tones by American English listeners. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 6 (2): 209–235. https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.19010.sil

So, C. K., and Best, C. T. (2010). Cross-language perception of non-native tonal contrasts: Effects of native phonological and phonetic influences. Language and Speech, 53 (Pt 2): 273–293. https://doi.org/ 0.1177/0023830909357156

Tang, Z., and Qi, H. (2012). Waiyu xuesheng hanyu jingtai shengdiao xide pianwu fenxi (The investigation of static Chinese tone acquisition of foreign students). Hanyu Xuexi (Chinese Language Learning), 1, 89–96.

Tsukada, K., Xu, H. L., and Rattanasone, N. X. (2015). The perception of Mandarin lexical tones by listeners from different linguistic backgrounds. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 4 (2). https://doi.org/10.1515/caslar-2015-0009

Wang, X. (2013). Perception of Mandarin tones: The effect of L1 background and train­ing. Modern Language Journal, 97 (1): 144–160. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2013.01386.x

Wang, Y., Sereno, J. A., and Jongman, A. (2006). L2 acquisition and processing of Mandarin tone. In E. Bates, L. Tan, and O. Tzeng (Eds.), Handbook of Chinese Psycholinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wang, Y., Spence, M. M., Jongman, A., and Sereno, J. A. (1999). Training American listeners to perceive Mandarin tones. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 106 (6): 3649–3658. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.428217

Wayland, R. P., and Guion, S. G. (2004). Training English and Chinese listeners to perceive Thai tones: A preliminary report. Language Learning, 54 (4): 681–712. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2004.00283.x

Whalen, D. H., and Xu, Y. (1992). Information for Mandarin tones in the amplitude contour and in brief segments. Phonetica, 49 (1): 25–47. https://doi.org/10.1159/000261901

Wu, Y. (2013). Jiyu tingbian shiyan de liuxuesheng hanyu shengdiao ganzhi yanjiu (A Mandarin perception experimental study on international students). Modern Chinese, 8, 108–110.

Xu, Y. (1997). Contextual tonal variations in Mandarin. Journal of Phonetics, 25 (1): 61–83.

Yang, B. (2012). The gap between the perception and production of tones by American learners of Mandarin–An intralingual perspective. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 1 (1): 33–53.

Yang, C., and Chan, M. K. (2010). The perception of Mandarin Chinese tones and intonation by American learners. Journal of Chinese Language Teachers Association, 45(1): 7–36.

Yi, B., Phetsukiri, P., and Sammarat, A. (2012). Taiguo Xuexizhe hanyu danzidiao xide guocheng ji tedian de shiyan yanjiu (A research on process and characteristics of Chinese tone acquisition of Learners from Thailand). Yuyan Jiaoxue yu Yanjiu (Language Teaching and Linguistic Studies), 6, 21–29.

Zhang, H. (2010). Phonological universals and tone acquisition. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, 45 (1): 39–65.

Published

2022-09-08

How to Cite

Li, X., Luo, Q., Liu, J., & Ryu, C. (2022). Varying Shades of Hearing: An Overview of Tone Perception Studies in L2 Mandarin Chinese. Researching and Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language, 3(2), 113–133. https://doi.org/10.1558/rtcfl.22908

Issue

Section

Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)