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Teaching L2 Speech Rhythm via Human Beatboxing

Han-tang Li, Yung-hsiang Shawn Chang
National Taipei University of Technology / Taipei Tech, Taipei, Taiwan


L2 (second language) prosody is critical to language teaching. However, it has been much understudied compared to L2 speech segments (Li & Post, 2014), which researchers like Silverman et al. (1992) attributed to limited resources available to pronunciation instructors as well as specific training required for prosody teaching. Available pedagogical research on L2 prosody has largely considered various musical forms to facilitate the teaching (Engh, 2013), for example, Jazz Chants in Zhang (2011) and rap music in Segal (2014). One musical form that has been used in speech therapy for L1 segmentals and yet has not been evaluated for the teaching of L2 suprasegmentals is beatboxing, which uses human vocal systems to produce beats, rhythms, and music (Blaylock et al., 2021; Kuhns, 2014). Having been reported beneficial for speech-impaired L1 speakers to learn prosodic features among (Icth, 2019), it is worth investigating whether such teaching efficacy can be similarly found in L2 learners. To this end, this study employed a pretest-treatment-posttest training paradigm, where the treatment was a one-week English rhythm instruction using beatbox provided for a group of 24 EFL (English as a foreign language) students at a vocational high school in Taiwan. The pretest, same as the posttest, was the reading of the North Wind and the Sun text. Rhythmic performance was quantified using Grabe & Low’s (2008) raw Pairwise Variability Index (rPVI) and normalized Pairwise Variability Index (nPVI). Preliminary results suggested a beneficial effect of using beatboxing in L2 English rhythm teaching. More data collection and data analysis are ongoing and further results will be presented at the conference.


L2 Prosody, human beatbox, rhythm, second language teaching

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023