Investigating Phonological Changes Following English Speech Contest Participation in Japan

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Philip Head, Kochi City Board of Education

English language speech contests are popular in Japan. However, although most participants show improvement in their pronunciation of a particular speech, it is unknown if these phonological improvements are transferable to students’ general speaking abilities. To test this, a longitudinal analysis of the pronunciation errors of Japanese junior high school students (18 speech contest participants and 12 controls) was undertaken. The results show a significant reduction in the number of th errors (/ð/ and /θ/) made by students following speech contest participation. However, there was no significant reduction found in the other types of common pronunciation errors examined. There was also a significant increase in the number of /ð/ errors made by speech contest participants between the completion of a speech contest and the following semester.