The Influence of Attention to Language Form on the Production of Weak Forms by Polish Learners of English
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The paper discusses a study whose aim was to examine the impact of attention to language form and task type on the realisation of English function words by Polish learners of English. An additional goal was to investigate whether style-induced pronunciation shifts may depend on the degree of foreign accent. A large part of the paper concentrates on the issue of defining ‘weakness’ in English weak forms and considers priorities in English pronunciation teaching as far as the realisation of function words is concerned. The participants in the study were 12 advanced Polish learners of English, who were divided into two groups: 6 who were judged to speak with a slight degree of foreign accent and 6 who were judged to speak with a high degree of foreign accent. The subjects’ pronunciation was analysed in three situations in which we assume their attention was increasingly paid to speech form (spontaneous speech, prepared speech, reading). The results of the study suggest that increased attention to language form caused the participants to realise more function words as unstressed, although the effect was small. It was also found that one of the characteristics of English weak forms, the lack of stress, was realised correctly by the participants in the majority of cases. Finally, the results of the study imply that, in the case under investigation, the effect of attention to language form is weakly or not at all related to the degree of foreign accent.