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Study of Teaching Prosodic Reading in Chinese as a Second Language
expression of the sound
Abstract Key words:speech instruction, discourse prosody, prosodic reading, pause-extension expression of the sound Since current trend for a comprehensive phonetic instruction advocates prosody instruction besides words, phrases and sentences, it seems to be a good way to better students’ accent. Thus, it is the purpose of this study to propose a teaching strategy in prosodic reading and help foreign students ameliorate their accent when speaking Chinese. We aimed to practice discourse prosody（Tseng, 2005）in rhythmic reading of Chinese, and utilize long-short, high-low, strong-weak, and loud-soft elements of sound to activate language. Appropriate pause-extension skill was applied to present stress, rhythm, intonation and mood, thereby achieving the goals of prosodic reading in phonetic instruction, i.e., “reading accuracy”, “reading fluency”, “reading with appropriate rhythm” and “reading with feelings”. In this way, foreign accent of foreigners could be improved, and highly efficient language communication skills could be acquired. As a consequence, complete phonetic instruction of Chinese may be accomplished. In this thesis, we introduced successful models of reading aloud instruction in the literature that proved to be useful for second language learning, followed by investigation of discourse prosody in speech stream（Tseng, 2006） to propose our model of prosodic reading instruction. Our research included a pilot instruction, as commonly used in the literature, to understand the response of foreign students to prosodic recitation, thereby forming the basis of our class design. Then teaching experiments were carried out in action research. Observation on the instruction process was recorded, and conclusions and suggestions were drawn from the results. Five subjects were enrolled in the teaching experiments. Five teachers who have experiences in teaching Chinese were to evaluate subjects’ foreign accent and speech prosody before and after the training course. In the “reading accuracy”, “reading fluency”, “reading with appropriate rhythm” and “reading with feelings” of the prosodic reading category, significant improvement was noted after the training course. As regards the stress, pause, rhythm, intonation, and mood in the speech stream rhythm category, clearer sound and more comprehensible speech were also found after the training course. Furthermore, prosodic reading was confirmed to be beneficial to attain the goals of phonetic instruction, i.e., “loud enough to be heard”, “clear enough to be understood”, “pleasing enough to be enjoyable”, and “expressing enough to be interesting”. Two subjects passed the “absence of foreign accent” test after the training course. Foreign accent tends to be improved, although statistically insignificant due to too many variables and short training course. Nevertheless, the training course of prosodic reading should be prolonged to make foreign students’ pronunciation more stable and subsequently improve their foreign accent.
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