Training Japanese Listeners to Perceive American English Vowels: Influence of Training Sets

Nishi, Kanae; Kewley-Port, Diane
December 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Dec2007, Vol. 50 Issue 6, p1496
Academic Journal
Purpose: Studies on speech perception training have shown that adult 2nd language learners can learn to perceive non-native consonant contrasts through laboratory training. However, research on perception training for non-native vowels is still scarce, and none of the previous vowel studies trained more than 5 vowels. In the present study, the influence of training set sizes was investigated by training native Japanese listeners to identify American English (AE) vowels. Method: Twelve Japanese learners of English were trained 9 days either on 9 AE monophthongs (fullset training group) or on the 3 more difficult vowels (subset training group). Five listeners served as controls and received no training. Performance of listeners was assessed before and after training as well as 3 months after training was completed. Results: Results indicated that (a) fullset training using 9 vowels in the stimulus set improved average identification by 25%; (b) listeners in both training groups generalized improvement to untrained words and tokens spoken by novel speakers; and (c) both groups maintained improvement after 3 months. However, the subset group never improved on untrained vowels. Conclusions: Training protocols for learning non-native vowels should present a full set of vowels and should not focus only on the more difficult vowels.


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