Mandarin Lecturer, Ms Min Shen recently delivered a paper at a the ’13th BCLTS International Conference on Teaching & Learning Chinese in Higher Education’ at the China Centre, University of Oxford, UK. Her paper, titled, “Phonological Attrition among Malay Speaking Foreign Language Mandarin Learners,” reported the results of attrition studies amongst Mandarin students at the Language Centre.
She found that there are strong links between acquisition and attrition and that there are differences in the attrition rates of marked features and those that carry a functional load such as question words (eg. who). In her early studies Ms Min Shen tested around 100 students before and after a semester break and analysed the degree of attrition in a variety of features. Current studies in the field appear not to have considered attrition rates in tonal languages such as Mandarin and Thai languages.
Ms Min Shen’s studies are in their infancy and more results will be forthcoming. While at the conference Ms Min Shen also chaired a parallel session on Pronunciation and Vocabulary.