Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar Series: Dr Bene Bassetti

26th April 2021 : 12:00 - 13:00

Category: Public Seminar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Dr Bene Bassetti

Location: Teams

Convener: Faidra Faitaki

Audience: Public



‘A¬†teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).