Language Transfer vs. Language Talent? Individual differences and aptitude in L2 phonology of Persian-speaking learners of English: A study with Persian native speakers of L2 English

Zhaleh Ghafoorian Maddah, Victoria Ameringer (Mitwirkende*r), Susanne Maria Reiterer (Korresp. Autor*in)

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in BuchBeitrag in Buch/SammelbandPeer Reviewed


Only little research regarding the phonology of Persian native speakers’ English has been conducted. In the present study, we compared different individual cognitive factors which result in ESL Iranian English pronunciation, such as cognitive ability and short-term memory (working memory and Llama_D), language aptitude (MLAT III, IV and V; Llama_D) and working memory (Tewes U, Hamburg-Wechsler-Intelligenz-Test für Erwachsene Revision. HAWIE-R, Bern, 1994). These measures were correlated with English pronunciation and phonetic measurements (vowel length measurement) of Persian ESL learners. The sample comprised 30 Iranians aged 20–40 years (mean age 26.08) with L1 Farsi and an academic education. Their age of onset of learning (AOA) ranged from 2 to 16 years (mean age 11.03). Three learner groups were identified based on their language proficiency, and results confirmed previous findings about the contribution of cognitive factors (Rota G, Reiterer SM, Cognitive aspects of pronunciation talent. In: Dogil G, Reiterer S (eds) Language talent and brain activity. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 67–96, 2009), language aptitude and multilingualism in L2 phonological processing. We observed significant correlations between English pronunciation scores and these three factors: schwa length pronunciation (r = −0.8), MLAT III (r = 0.8) and working memory (r = 0.78). Schwa length pronunciation also correlated highly with the number of languages (r = −.74) and the age of onset of acquisition (r = .41). Our cross-linguistic results suggest that phonological native-like L2 achievement in ESL adult learners is possible, as individuals with higher L2 aptitude and working memory capacity can overcome the transfer of L1 phonological categories in L2 processing.
TitelExploring Language Aptitude: Views from Psychology, the Language Sciences, and Cognitive Neuroscience
Redakteure*innenSusanne M. Reiterer
Herausgeber (Verlag)Springer
ISBN (elektronisch)9783319919171
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-91916-4
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2018


ReiheEnglish Language Education

ÖFOS 2012

  • 602040 Psycholinguistik
  • 602036 Neurolinguistik