Brazilian EFL learners’ awareness about L2 phones: Is mall pronounced as ‘mal’?

  • Hanna Kivistö-de Souza Universitat de Barcelona
Palavras-chave: Phonological awareness. L2 speech learning. Pronunciation instruction.


The aim of this paper was to examine the extent of non-verbalizable knowledge L1 Brazilian Portuguese (BP) learners of English possess about the segmental inventory of the L2. The study had two aims: i) to determine to what extent L1 BP EFL learners are aware of contrastive and non-contrastive L2 segments, ii) to determine which type of segments present the lowest level of awareness. To the date, little research has been carried out about the non-verbalizable aspect of L2 phonological awareness, most studies having relied on participants’ verbalization of the acquired knowledge (e.g., KENNEDY & TROFIMOVICH, 2010; WREMBEL, 2011). Whereas language learners are frequently taught grammar explicitly, pronunciation of the L2 is rarely addressed in the foreign language classroom. Moreover, phonology is in nature less susceptible to conscious processing than other aspects of L2 learning, making the noticing, and especially the explicit explanation, of phonological aspects difficult. Nevertheless, high L2 phonological awareness is beneficial for L2 pronunciation (Kivistö-de Souza, 2015), making its examination a priority in the foreign language classroom context. The participants of the study were 71 advanced EFL learners and 18 native speakers of American English. Participants performed a perception test which presented English segments spoken by native and non-native speakers. The ability to identify pronunciation deviations in the non-native speaker trials was taken as a measure for phonological awareness. The results showed that the L1 BP participants manifested a significantly lower sensitivity to English segmental phonology than the native English speakers (F[1, 87] = 40.56, p <.001, η2 =.31). Pronunciation deviations involving consonants were identified to the greatest extent (52%), whereas the trials involving short-lag VOTs were identified the poorest (33%). The results reveal a need for explicit pronunciation instruction and the employment of consciousnessraising activities in the Brazilian EFL classroom.


Não há dados estatísticos.

Biografia do Autor

Hanna Kivistö-de Souza, Universitat de Barcelona
É professora adjunta I do Departamento de Língua e Literatura Estrangeiras da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Possui graduação em língua e literatura inglesa pela universidade de La Laguna, Espanha (2010), mestrado em linguística aplicada (2011) pela universidade de Barcelona e doutorado em linguística aplicada (2015) pela universidade de Barcelona. Tem experiência em linguística aplicada, com ênfase em aquisição fonético-fonológica de uma língua estrangeira (L2), atuando principalmente nos seguintes temas: consciência fonológica, ensino de pronúncia, bi- e multilinguísmo, e psicolinguística. É membro dos grupos de pesquisa NUPFFALE ( e Barcelona L2 Speech Research Group ( Sua pesquisa tem sido publicada em periódicos e congressos nacionais e internacionais.


ALANEN, R. (1995). Input enhancement and rule presentation in second language acquisition. In R. Schmidt (Ed.), Attention and awareness in foreign language learning and teaching. Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center Technical Report No. 9 (pp. 259-302). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

ALVES, U. K. (2009). Consciência dos aspectos fonético-fonológicos da L2. In R. Lamprecht (Ed.), Consciência dos sons da língua: Subsídios teóricos e práticos para alfabetizadores, fonoaudiólogos e professores de língua inglesa (pp. 201-231). Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS.

ALVES, U. K., & MAGRO, V. (2011). Raising awareness of L2 phonology: Explicit instruction and the acquisition of aspirated /p/ by Brazilian Portuguese speakers. Letras de Hoje, 46, pp. 71-80.

ALVES, U. K., & ZIMMER, M.C. (2015). Percepção e produção dos padrões de vot do inglês por aprendizes brasileiros: O papel de múltiplas pistas acústicas sob uma perspectiva dinâmica. Alfa, 59, pp. 157-180.

AMMAR, A., LIGHTBOWN, P., & SPADA, N. (2010). Awareness of L1/L2 differences: Does it matter? Language Awareness, 19, pp. 129-146.

BAKER, W., & TROFIMOVICH, P. (2006). Perceptual paths to accurate production of L2 vowels: The role of individual differences. International review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 44, pp. 231-250.

BAPTISTA, B. O. (2006). Adult phonetic learning of a second language vowel system. In B. O. Baptista & M. A. Watkins (Eds.), English with a Latin beat: Studies in Portuguese/ SpanishEnglish interphonology (pp. 25-46). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

BAPTISTA, B. O., & SILVA FILHO, J. (2006). The influence of voicing and sonority relationships on the production of English final consonants. In B. O. Baptista & M. A. Watkins (Eds.), English with a Latin beat: Studies in Portuguese/ Spanish-English interphonology (pp. 73-90). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

BERGSLEITHNER, J., & BORGES MOTA, M. (2013). Investigating relationships among noticing, working memory capacity, and accuracy in L2 oral performance. In J. Bergsleithner, S. Frota & J. Yoshioka (Eds.), Noticing and second language acquisition: Studies in honor of Richard Schmidt (pp. 151-168). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i, National Foreign Language Resource Center.

BRADLEY, L., & BRYANT, P. E. (1983). Categorizing sound and learning to read: A causal connection. Nature, 301, pp. 419-421.

CABAÑERO, M., & ALVES, U. K. (2008). A transferência grafo-fônico-fonológica na produção de seqüencias ortográficas ‘ng’ do inglês (L2): Uma abordagem conexionista. Revista Virtual de Estudos da Linguagem, 6. Retrieved from http://www.revel.

CARDOSO, W. (2005). The variable acquisition of English word-final stops by Brazilian Portuguese speakers. In L. Dekydtspotter, R. A. Sprouse, & A. Liljestrand (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (pp. 38- 49). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

CEBRIAN, J. & CARLET, A. (2014). Second language learners’ identification of target language phonemes: A short-term phonetic training study. Canadian Modern Language Review, 70, pp. 474-499.

COUPER, G. (2011). What makes pronunciation teaching work? Testing for the effect of two variables: socially constructed metalanguage and critical listening. Language Awareness, 20, pp. 159-182.

DEFIOR, S., GUTIÉRREZ-PALMA, N., & CANO-MARÍN, M.J. (2012). Prosodic awareness skills and literacy acquisition in Spanish. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 41, pp. 285-294.

ECKMAN, F. R. (1977). Markedness and the contrastive analysis hypothesis. Language learning, 27(2), pp. 315-330.

ELLIS, N. C. (2002). Reflections on frequency effects in language processing. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 24, pp. 297-339.

ELLIS, N. C. (2005). At the interface: Dynamic interactions of explicit and implicit language knowledge. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, pp. 305-352.

FLEGE, J. (1995). Second language speech learning, theory, findings and problems. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research (pp. 233-277). Timonium, MD: York Press.

FLEGE, J., & HAMMOND, R. (1982). Mimicry of non-distinctive phonetic differences between language varieties. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 5, pp. 1-17.

FORSTER, K. I., & FORSTER, J.C. (2012). DMDX (Version [Computer software]. Retrieved from

FOY, J., & MANN, V. (2001). Does strength of phonological representations predict phonological awareness in preschool children? Applied Psycholinguistics, 22, pp. 301-325.

GONÇALVES, A. (2014). In search of speech intelligibility: The case of English high front vowels (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis. SC.

GOSWAMI, U., & BRYANT, P. (1990). Phonological skills and learning to read. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

KENNEDY, S. (2012). Exploring the relationship between language awareness and second language use. TESOL Quarterly, 46, pp. 398-408.

KENNEDY, S., BLANCHET, J., & TROFIMOVICH, P. (2014). Learner pronunciation, awareness, and instruction in French as a second language. Foreign Language Annals, 47, pp. 79-96.

KENNEDY, S., & TROFIMOVICH, P. (2010). Language awareness and second language pronunciation: a classroom study. Language Awareness, 19, pp. 171-185.

KIVISTÖ-DE SOUZA, H. (2015). Phonological awareness and pronunciation in a second language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

LEHTONEN, A., & TREIMAN, R. (2007). Adults’ knowledge of phoneme-letter relationships is phonology based and flexible. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, pp. 95-114.

LEOW, R. (1997). Attention, awareness and foreign language behavior. Language Learning, 47, pp. 467-505.

LONG, M. H. (1991). Focus on form: A design feature in language teaching methodology. In K. de Bot, R. Ginsberg, & C. Kramsch (Eds.), Foreign language research in cross-cultural perspective (pp. 39-52). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

MCBRIDE-CHANG, C. (1995). What is phonological awareness? Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, pp. 179-192.

MEARA, P. M. (2005). X_Lex: The Swansea vocabulary levels test (Version 2.05.) [Computer software]. Swansea: Lognostics.

MILTON, J. (2010). The development of vocabulary breadth across the CEFR levels: A common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, and textbooks across Europe. In I. Bartning, M. Martin, & I. Vedder (Eds.), Eurosla Monographs Series 1: Communicative Proficiency and Linguistic Development (pp. 211-232). Retrieved from

MORA, J.C., ROCHDI, Y., & KIVISTÖ-DE SOUZA, H. (2014). Mimicking accented speech as L2 phonological awareness. Language Awareness, v.23, n. 1-2, pp. 57-75.

OAKHILL, J., & KYLE, F. (2000). The relation between phonological awareness and working memory. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 75, pp. 152-164.

PISKE, T. (2008). Phonetic awareness, phonetic sensitivity and the second language learner. In J. Cenoz & N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education Vol. 6: Knowledge about language (pp. 155-166). New York: Springer Science.

RAMÍREZ VERDUGO, D. (2006). A study of intonation awareness and learning in nonnative speakers of English. Language Awareness, 15, pp. 141-159.

RATO, A. (2013). Cross-language perception and production of English vowels by Portuguese learners: The effects of perceptual training (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). University of Minho, Minho.

RAUBER, A. (2006). Perception and production of English vowels by Brazilian EFL speakers (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC.

REBUSCHAT, P., & WILLIAMS, J. (2012). Implicit and explicit knowledge in second language acquisition. Applied Psycholinguistics. 33, pp. 829-856.

REIS, M. S. (2006). The perception and production of English interdental fricatives by Brazilian EFL learners (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC.

RENOU, J. (2001). An examination of the relationship between metalinguistic awareness and second-language proficiency of adult learners of French. Language Awareness, 10, pp. 248-267.

ROBINSON, P. (1995). Attention, memory and the ‘noticing’ hypothesis. Language Learning, 45, pp. 283-331.

ROBINSON, P. (2003). Attention and memory during SLA. In C. Doughty & M. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 631-678). New York: Blackwell.

ROSA, E., & LEOW, R. (2004). Awareness, different learning conditions, and second language development. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25, pp. 269-292.

ROSA, E., & O’NEILL, M. (1999). Explicitness, intake, and the issue of awareness. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, pp. 511-556.

SAITO, K. (2015). Communicative focus on second language phonetic form: Teaching Japanese learners to perceive and produce English /ɹ/ without explicit instruction. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36, pp. 377-409.

SCARBOROUGH, H., EHRI, L., OLSON, R., & FOWLER, A. (1998). The fate of phonemic awareness beyond the elementary school years. Scientific Studies of Reading 2, pp. 115-142.

SCHMIDT, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11, pp. 129-158.

SCHMIDT, R. (1995). Consciousness and foreign language learning: a tutorial on the role of attention and awareness in learning. In Schmidt, R. (Ed.), Attention and awareness (pp. 1-63). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai`i, National Foreign Language Resource Center.

SHARWOOD SMITH, M. A. (1991). Speaking to many minds: On the relevance of different types of language information for the L2 learner. Second Language Research, 7, pp. 118-132.

SHOEMAKER, E. (2014). The exploitation of subphonemic acoustic detail in L2 speech segmentation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36, pp. 709-731.

SILVEIRA, R. (2002). Perception and production of English initial /s/ clusters by Brazilian learners. Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada, 2, pp. 95-119.

SILVEIRA, R. (2004). The influence of pronunciation instruction on the perception and production of English word-final consonants (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC.

SILVEIRA, R. (2012). PL2 production of English word-final consonants: The role of orthography and learner profile variables. Trabalhos em Linguística Aplicada, 51, pp. 13-34.

SILVEIRA, R., & ALVES, U.K. (2009). Noticing e instrução explícita: Aprendizagem fonético-fonológica do morfema –ed. Nonada, 13, pp. 149-159.

STANOVICH, K. E. (1992). Speculations on the causes and consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of reading skills. Psychological Bulletin, 101, pp. 192–212

TARONE, E., & BIGELOW, M. (2005). Impact of literacy on oral language processing: Implications for second language acquisition research. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, pp. 77-97.

VANPATTEN, B. (1996). Input processing and grammar instruction in second language acquisition. Norwood: Ablex Publishing

VANPATTEN, B. (2002). Processing instruction: An update. Language Learning, 52, 755-803.

VENKATAGIRI, H. S., & LEVIS, J. (2007). Phonological awareness and speech comprehensibility: An exploratory study. Language Awareness, 16, pp. 263-277.

WREMBEL, M. (2005). Phonological Metacompetence in the Acquisition of Second Language Phonetics (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan.

WREMBEL, M. (2011). Metaphonetic awareness in the production of speech. In M. Pawlak, E. Waniek-Klimczak & J. Majer (Eds.), Speaking and instructed foreign language acquisition (pp. 169-182). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

WREMBEL, M. (2013). Metalinguistic awareness in third language phonological acquisition. In K. Roehr & G. A. Gánem-Gutiérrez (Eds.), The metalinguistic dimension in instructed second language learning (pp. 119-144). London: Bloomsbury.

WREMBEL, M. (2015). Metaphonological awareness in multilinguals: A case of L3 Polish. Language Awareness, 24, pp. 60-83.

YOPP, H. K. (1988). The validity and reliability of phonemic awareness tests. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, pp. 159-177.

ZIMMER, M. (2004). A transferência do conhecimento fonético-fonológico do português brasileiro (L1) para o inglês (L2) na recodificação leitora: uma abordagem conexionista (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS.

ZUENGLER, J. (1988). Identity markers and L2 pronunciation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 10, pp. 33-49.

Como Citar
Souza, H. K.- de. (2017). Brazilian EFL learners’ awareness about L2 phones: Is mall pronounced as ‘mal’?. Trabalhos Em Linguística Aplicada, 56(1), 235-258. Recuperado de