Aptitude, experience and second language pronunciation proficiency development in classroom settings: a longitudinal study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Birkbeck, University of London


The current study longitudinally examined the influence of aptitude on second language (L2) pronunciation development when 40 first-year Japanese university students engaged in practice activities inside and outside English-as-a-Foreign-Language classrooms over one academic year. Spontaneous speech samples were elicited at the beginning, middle, and end points of the project, analyzed for global, segmental, syllabic, prosodic, and temporal aspects of L2 pronunciation, and linked to their aptitude and experience profiles. Results indicated that the participants generally enhanced the global comprehensibility of their speech (through reducing vowel insertion errors in complex syllables) as a function of increased classroom experience during their first semester, and explicit learning aptitude (associative memory, phonemic coding) appeared to help certain learners further enhance their pronunciation proficiency through the development of fluency and prosody. In the second semester, incidental learning ability (sound sequence recognition) was shown to be a significant predictor of the extent to which certain learners continued to improve and ultimately attain advanced-level L2 comprehensibility, largely thanks to improved segmental accuracy.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-225
Number of pages25
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Issue number1
Early online date9 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes