The present study investigated the acquisition of French stop consonants in English-speaking children who attend a French immersion elementary school in Alberta, Canada. Both languages have voiced and voiceless stops, but in English the distinction is phonetically realized as short-lag vs. long-lag VOTs, while in French it is as lead vs. short-lag VOTs. Examining the development of stops in this group of children can shed light on the interaction between L1 and L2 when L2 is acquired in an immersion setting. Children in grades 1, 3, and 5 first participated in a word-repetition task, repeating back words beginning with /b/ and /p/. They were then tested on their identification of stop categories over a VOT series ranging from -70 to +70ms, with 10-ms differences among the tokens. Results from the production experiment indicated a clear separation of the two languages in /p/, but not in /b/. The perception results suggest consistent identification in both English stops, the French /p/, but not the French /b/. The results are discussed in terms of the cross-language phonetic differences, the particularity of the learning environment, and the impact of dominant language in society.
Bibliographic reference. Netelenbos, Nicole / Li, Fangfang (2013): "The production and perception of voice onset time in English-speaking children enrolled in a French immersion program", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 2380-2384.