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The effects of high versus low talker variability and individual aptitude on phonetic training of Mandarin lexical tones

Dong, H; Clayards, M; Brown, H; Wonnacott, E; (2019) The effects of high versus low talker variability and individual aptitude on phonetic training of Mandarin lexical tones. PEERJ , 7 , Article e7191. 10.7717/peerj.7191. Green open access

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Abstract

High variability (HV) training has been found to be more effective than low variability (LV) training when learning various non-native phonetic contrasts. However, little research has considered whether this applies to the learning of tone contrasts. The only two relevant studies suggested that the effect of HV training depends on the perceptual aptitude of participants (Perrachione et al., 2011; Sadakata & McQueen, 2014). The present study extends these findings by examining the interaction between individual aptitude and input variability using natural, meaningful second language input (both previous studies used pseudowords). A total of 60 English speakers took part in an eight session phonetic training paradigm. They were assigned to high/low/high-blocked variability training groups and learned real Mandarin tones and words. Individual aptitude was measured following previous work. Learning was measured using one discrimination task, one identification task and two production tasks. All tasks assessed generalization. All groups improved in both the production and perception of tones which transferred to untrained voices and items, demonstrating the effectiveness of training despite the increased complexity compared with previous research. Although the LV group exhibited an advantage with the training stimuli, there was no evidence for a benefit of high-variability in any of the tests of generalisation. Moreover, although aptitude significantly predicted performance in discrimination, identification and training tasks, no interaction between individual aptitude and variability was revealed. Additional Bayes Factor analyses indicated substantial evidence for the null for the hypotheses of a benefit of high-variability in generalisation, however the evidence regarding the interaction was ambiguous. We discuss these results in light of previous findings.

Type: Article
Title: The effects of high versus low talker variability and individual aptitude on phonetic training of Mandarin lexical tones
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.7191
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7191
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Multidisciplinary Sciences, Science & Technology - Other Topics, L2 phonetic contrasts, Phonetic training, Lexical tone learning, Second language, R-VERTICAL-BAR, ENGLISH VOWELS, FUNDAMENTAL-FREQUENCY, ACOUSTIC VARIABILITY, JAPANESE LISTENERS, NATIVE SPEAKERS, 2ND-LANGUAGE, PERCEPTION, LEARNERS, LANGUAGE
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081967
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