The Acquisition of Dialectal Phonemes in a Study Abroad Context: The Case of the Castilian Theta

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Abstract

This exploratory study investigates the incorporation of dialectal variants in second language (L2) pronunciation and how the learning context intersects with this acquisition. Specifically, this research examines to what extent L2 learners of Spanish acquire the regional phoneme /θ/ from north-central Spain in both study abroad (SA) and at-home (AH) programs. Native versus nonnative L2 pronunciation over time in potential [θ] contexts is also considered. The findings suggest that students rarely produce [θ] after contact with native speakers in either learning context, yet the use of the phone is facilitated by a SA experience and conditioned by select linguistic and extralinguistic factors. Moreover, beginning and intermediate students appear to make greater gains in nativelike pronunciation as a result of the SA experience as compared to advanced students.

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