ISCA Workshop on Plasticity in Speech Perception (PSP2005)

Senate House, London, UK
June 15-17, 2005

Pronunciation Accuracy of Four English Vowels by Serbian Learners of English

Lidija Krebs-Lazendic, Heather Winskel, Catherine Best, Denis Burnham

MARCS Auditory Laboratories, , University of Western Sydney, Australia

Various theories have been offered to explain why children achieve native-like accuracy in second language (L2) pronunciation and adults do not. Both age of learning and interaction between first language (L1) and second language (L2) phonetic inventories influences production accuracy by late L2 learners. The Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) and Speech Learning Model (SLM) have been devised to explain the influence of sounds from the native language in the perception of phones that are not contrastive in a learner's native language. The PAM focuses on the way non-native categories are filtered through the phonetic properties of the native language, while the SLM is concerned primarily with L2 acquisition and within cross-language speech perception and production. This study was conducted in order to test the SLM's predictions and extend the PAM's predictions in relation to L2 sound acquisition. Three Experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1 production accuracy of four English vowels /., i, ., . / by native speakers of Serbian was tested. The early learners were expected to produce all tested vowels accurately, whereas late learners were expected to produce /., ./, and fail to produce /., i / accurately. In Experiment 2 identification and goodness-to-fit ratings of targeted English vowels by the same subjects were tested. The aim was to assess the perceptual relationship between targeted English vowels and the closest Serbian vowels and perceived similarity between them. It was expected that production accuracy is a result of English vowels being identified as exemplars of closest native vowels. In Experiment 3 two trained phoneticians identified vowels produced by the subjects in Experiment 1. The aim was to see whether subjects who failed to produce targeted vowels accurately substituted the non-native categories with perceived categories. Results from these experiments will be reported in the presentation.

Bibliographic reference.  Krebs-Lazendic, Lidija / Winskel, Heather / Best, Catherine / Burnham, Denis (2005): "Pronunciation accuracy of four English vowels by Serbian learners of English", In PSP2005, 125 (abstract).