The effects and the effectiveness of different types of instruction on the acquisition of L2 phonology: a meta-analysis

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


A substantial body of empirical studies on how (well) people learn a second/foreign language, culminating in a number of impactful meta-analyses (e.g. Spada & Tomita, 2010; Lee et al., 2015), now offers compelling evidence that instruction can have an effect on how (well) people learn a second/foreign language (L2). In an attempt to fill a number of gaps in the research literature we conducted a meta-analysis of primary studies on the effects of phonological instruction and try to elucidate outstanding issues such as the magnitude of the effects of implicit vs. explicit phonological instruction on both production and perception of phonological target features, and how these effects are mediated by the relative learning difficulty of those features, as predicted by theoretical models such as PAM-L2 (Best & Tyler, 2007).
We extracted 943 references from two databases (Web of Science and Scopus) and previous meta-analyses. 173 studies published between 1997 and 2022 were selected for more detailed coding. Using a set of five inclusion criteria targeting design and methodological characteristics (with pretest and posttest, control group, instructional treatment sessions, target segmental features, and statistical information to calculate effect sizes), 59 primary studies were included in a network meta-analysis to answer the following primary research question: to what extent does phonological instruction affect the acquisition of phonemic categories in an L2? Subsequently, we address four secondary research questions: (1) how is the impact of instruction moderated by the learning difficulty of the phonological target features?; (2) how is the impact of instruction on phonological acquisition moderated by type of instruction (implicit vs. explicit)?; (3) how does the impact of instruction depend on the type of modality (perception vs. production)?; (4) what is the interaction between type of instruction and target feature difficulty?
We discuss construct definitions, operationalisations, and coding of the independent and dependent variables, discuss the results of the meta-analysis as well as general methodological trends, strengths and shortcomings in research on phonological instruction as they emerge from our survey.
Period31 Aug 2023
Event titleThe 32nd Conference of the European Second Language Association
Event typeConference
LocationBirmingham, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational