College of Arts and Sciences
lexical stress, education, ESL, Mandarin, feedback, suprasegmental, prosody, teaching, ELL
Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education
Oliver, Ethan, "Teaching Lexical Stress: Effective Practice in a Mandarin ELL Context" (2021). Senior Honors Theses. 1111.
Current trends in teaching pronunciation to ELLs (English Language Learners) point towards a "top-down" approach. This refers to putting emphasis on the overarching prosodic features of English rather than the proper pronunciation of consonants and vowels. One of the most integral prosodic features in English is stress. Both lexical stress (stressed syllables within a word) and sentence stress (stressed words within a sentence) play an important role in the prosodic pronunciation of English. However, some languages, such as Mandarin, lack stress in their prosodic systems, instead employing features such as tonality. These languages both have overlap in their fundamental prosodic structures, with pitch changes as integral to both tonality in Mandarin and stress in English. I propose that ESL instructors will instill prosodic skills and thus make better communicators of their students by drawing attention to this positive transfer between both systems.