7th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

September 16-20, 2002
Denver, Colorado, USA

Perceptual Learning of Second-Language Syllable Rhythm by Elderly Listeners

Keiichi Tajima (1), Reiko Akahane-Yamada (1), Tsuneo Yamada (2)

(1) ATR Human Information Science Laboratories, Japan; (2) National Institute of Multimedia Education, Japan

Past studies attempting to train second-language (L2) learners to accurately perceive L2 speech have focused primarily on non-native segmental contrasts, using young, college-aged listeners as trainees. To examine whether similar training methods improve perception of prosodic properties of L2, and whether older listeners can benefit from such training, the present study investigated the effect of auditory training using feedback on elderly native Japanese listeners’ perception of relatively complex syllables in spoken English words. Monolingual Japanese listeners aged 60-69 were trained to identify the number of syllables in spoken English words. Before training, listeners correctly counted syllables 56% of the time. After roughly three weeks of training, however, listeners correctly responded 91% of the time. Furthermore, listeners’ responses were less affected by syllable complexity of the stimuli after training than before. Results suggest that auditory training is effective for improving L2 syllable perception, even for elderly listeners.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Tajima, Keiichi / Akahane-Yamada, Reiko / Yamada, Tsuneo (2002): "Perceptual learning of second-language syllable rhythm by elderly listeners", In ICSLP-2002, 249-252.