Auditory-Visual Speech Processing 2007 (AVSP2007)

Kasteel Groenendaal, Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands
August 31 - September 3, 2007

The Impact of Visual Training on the Perception and Production of a Non-Native Phonetic Contrast

Valerie Hazan (1), Anke Sennema (2)

(1) Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, UCL, London, UK
(2) Institute of Linguistics, University of Potsdam, Germany

Many studies have shown that the perception of ‘difficult’ non-native phonetic contrasts can be improved through auditory training. More recently, studies comparing the effectiveness of auditory and audiovisual training have shown an advantage for audiovisual training at least for contrasts that are sufficiently visually-salient. Audiovisual training also led to improvements in the pronunciation of the trained consonants. The current study, which trained the /l/-/r/ contrast with Japanese learners of English, investigated training effectiveness using visual stimuli alone, i.e. with trainees seeing but not hearing the speakers. Fifteen Japanese students participated in the seven-session training programme and there were eleven controls. Pre/post tests were carried out in auditory (A), visual (V) and audiovisual (AV) test conditions and participants were also recorded before and after the training reading a list of words which included the sounds /l/ and /r/. Visual training was successful in significantly increasing the discriminability of the /l/-/r/ contrast in trainees in V and AV test conditions but there was no carry-over to the A condition. There was generalisation to nonsense words by unknown speakers. Visual influence was also tested by comparing performance in A and AV test conditions, and in a simple McGurk task. AV benefit increased to a greater extent for trainees. In the McGurk test, visual influence in the identification of discrepant (A /ba/- V /ga/) stimuli increased significantly in the post-test but this also occurred for controls, so might be due to a ‘foreignlanguage’ effect as most participants were attending a phonetics summer school in a foreign country. Results of an identification and rating test evaluating the participants’ pronunciation of /l/ and /r/ pre- and post-training showed no evidence of any improvements in pronunciation following visual training.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hazan, Valerie / Sennema, Anke (2007): "The impact of visual training on the perception and production of a non-native phonetic contrast", In AVSP-2007, paper L6-1.