Identification and Discrimination of Word Stress by Taiwanese EFL Learners

Shu-chen Ou, National Sun Yat-sen University

This paper investigates Taiwanese EFL learners identification and discrimination of English word stress when the cue of pitch is manipulated. Forty Taiwanese EFL learners participated in two forced choice perceptual experiments, in which they were asked to identify a perceived non-word when its stressed syllable was realized phonetically either (i) in higher pitch, or (ii) in a low rising pitch contour. The results show that while all of the subjects had little difficulty in identifying word stress in the condition (i), they all had great difficulty in doing so in the condition (ii). However, in the discrimination task, the L2 learners are found to be sensitive the phonetic variations of English word stress, suggesting that they are deaf to stress at the phonological level but not deaf to stress at the phonetic level.