It Starts With Phonemes

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James C. Jensen, Aka-Kara English


In this paper I discuss the relationship between infant phoneme acquisition studies and teaching in an EFL context. I start with a historical account of the developments in infant language acquisition studies. Three questions are addressed. First, to what extent can second language learners’ first language phonemic architecture be modified? Second, what do infant language acquisition studies tell us about the constraints that cause difficulties for such modifications? And third, what methodologies are the most effective for modifying a foreign language learner’s native phonemic architecture? I argue that explicit instruction at the segmental level is vital in an EFL setting.