Hong Kong ESL learners’ acquisition of English stress and assessment of an online tutoring programme

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This study investigates the acquisition of English word stress by ESL learners in Hong Kong, and assesses the efficacy of unlimited access to an online pronunciation tutoring programme. Twenty learners in foundation English language classes at the university level were recruited to participate in this study. Ten students were given an online programme as a supplement to a 30-hour English course, and were requested to practice on their home computers. Their development in spoken English was compared with a control group of ten students who did not use the online resource. The online programme My ET was evaluated according to Chapelle’s (2001) six criteria for CALL assessment. The learners were pre- and post-tested by two experienced raters of pronunciation. A questionnaire was then distributed to inquire into the pronunciation learning experiences and attitudes towards the online learning. Results indicate that the online pronunciation tutoring was fairly effective in improving the ESL learners’ ability to produce and perceive correctly different stress patterns in words, phrases, and sentences, and that students also had a positive attitude towards online pronunciation instruction and activities. The findings also reveal that practice with the programme was beneficial to those students who began the course with a strong foreign accent, but it was of limited value to students who began the course with better pronunciation. Copyright © 2012 TESOL International Journal. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
JournalThe TESOL International Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012



Chen, H. C. (2012). Hong Kong ESL learners’ acquisition of English stress and assessment of an online tutoring programme. The TESOL International Journal, 6, 45-62.


  • Self-direct learning
  • Speech production
  • Supra-segmental awareness