Ming Chuan University, Taiwan
This study primarily investigated the correlations of age of first exposure to formal English instruction and of the average number of hours per week of formal English instruction prior to enrollment in university to Taiwanese EFL learners’ perceptual accuracy of four English vowels (/I/, /iy/, /ε/ and /ey/). A total of 104 freshmen from a single university in northern Taiwan participated in this study. Their accuracy in recognizing the tested vowels was evaluated by a listening identification test developed by the researcher. In addition, a questionnaire based on modifications of those of Cheung (2006) and Kuo (2001) was utilized to collect information about the students’ language background. A series of Pearson Product-Moment Correlations demonstrated that the age of initial exposure to formal English instruction and the weekly amount of English instruction time at school showed significant correlations with the Taiwanese first-year university EFL learners’ perceptual accuracy of certain tested vowels. The results of this study suggest that a critical period exists for foreign language acquisition of perception of vowels and that the extension of the amount of formal English instruction of EFL learners should start at an earlier stage of life.
Key Words: critical period, age of arrival (AOA), length of residence (LOR), second language acquisition (SLA), foreign language acquisition (FLA), perception of vowels
本研究旨在探討學習英語之起始年齡及國高中每週在校教授英語之時數與台灣大學生對四個英文母音(/I/, /iy/, /ε/, /ey/)感受能力之關聯性。研究對象乃北台灣一所國立大學104位非英語系之大一學生。透過研究者所設計之英語母音聽力測驗以及改編自Cheung (2006)及Kuo (2001)之語言學習背景問卷來評估受試者對於受測母音之感受精確度和調查其開始學習英語之年齡及國高中時期每週在校接受英語課程之時數等資訊。俟所有相關資料收集完畢，一系列之皮爾森積差相關係數被計算。其結果顯示，起始年齡及國高中每週在校英語授課時數兩因素皆與受試者對某些受測母音之感受能力有顯著之關聯性。因此，本研究發現，關鍵時期此假說是存在於外語母音感受之習得的。此外，如果要延長學習者在校授課時數以增進其外語能力，時間上是愈早實施，效果會愈好。