Field Independence/Dependence, Hemispheric Specialization, and Attitude in Relation to Pronunciation Accuracy in Spanish as a Foreign Language

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Abstract

Sixty-six intermediate students studying Spanish at Indiana University were measured on 12 variables believed to be related to pronunciation accuracy. The students' pronunciation was rated by three judges. Variables that related most to pronunciation accuracy were: (a) attitude or individual concern for pronunciation; (b) subject's degree of field independence (FI) as measured by the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) (Witkin et al., 1971); and (c) subject's degree of right hemispheric specialization (RT) in relation to accurate pronunciation on a free-speech exercise. Variables that proved to have little or no relationship to pronunciation were: (a) left/integrated hemispheric specialization, (b) gender, (c) foreign travel, (d) other languages learned/spoken, (e) overall Grade Point Average (GPA), (f) GPA in Spanish, and (g) having Spanish-speaking relatives. The relationship between pronunciation accuracy and subjects' total number of years of formal instruction in Spanish approached significance; however, this relationship was lost in a multiple regression analysis when factors such as attitude and FI were taken into consideration. The results suggest that although FI and RT hemispheric specialization relate to accurate target language pronunciation in certain tasks, attitude or concern for pronunciation accuracy proved to be the most significant factor. Finally, a classroom model of pronunciation instruction is posited, as well as implications for future research.

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