The Perception of English Intonation Patterns by German L2 Speakers of English

Karin Puga, Robert Fuchs, Jane Setter, Peggy Mok


Previous research suggests that intonation is a particularly challenging aspect of L2 speech learning. While most research focuses on speech production, we widen the focus and study the perception of intonation by L2 learners. We investigate whether advanced German learners of English have knowledge of the appropriate English intonation patterns in a narrative context with different sentence types (e.g. statements, questions). The results of a tonal pattern selection task indicate that learners (n=20) performed similar to British English controls (n=25) for some sentence types (e.g. statements, yes/no-questions), but performed significantly worse than the control group in the case of open and closed tag questions and the expression of sarcasm. The results can be explained by the fact that tag questions are the only sentence type investigated that does not exist in the learners’ L1, and sarcasm is not represented syntactically. This suggests that L1 influence can partly account for why some intonation patterns are more challenging than others, and that contextualized knowledge of the intonation patterns of the target language rather than knowledge of intonation patterns in isolation is crucial for the successful L2 learning of intonation.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1279

Cite as: Puga, K., Fuchs, R., Setter, J., Mok, P. (2017) The Perception of English Intonation Patterns by German L2 Speakers of English. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 3241-3245, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1279.


@inproceedings{Puga2017,
  author={Karin Puga and Robert Fuchs and Jane Setter and Peggy Mok},
  title={The Perception of English Intonation Patterns by German L2 Speakers of English},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={3241--3245},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1279},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1279}
}