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Perceptual training of English /r/ and /l/ for Japanese adults, adolescents and children

Shinohara, Y; (2014) Perceptual training of English /r/ and /l/ for Japanese adults, adolescents and children. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Although phoneme perception and production in second-language (L2) learners has been the focus of much research over the past few decades, the learning mechanisms and the factors that influence them are still far from understood. The purpose of this PhD research is to cast some light on the mechanisms underlying the learning of L2 phonemes and the effects of age. Japanese speakers who have problems in perception and production of the English /r/-/l/ contrast participated in three perceptual training studies. The first study examined whether Japanese adults can improve their perception and production with identification and discrimination training. The results demonstrated that both identification and discrimination training methods improved their perception and production of the English /r/-/l/ contrast, but the combination of two different training methods did not have additive effects. The second study investigated how age affects the learning of the English /r/-/l/ contrast at phonetic and phonological levels of perception. The results demonstrated that Japanese adults are disadvantaged in improving their phonetic perception of the English /r/-/l/ contrast due to their relatively fossilised brain plasticity and their developed L1 phonetic units. On the other hand, younger learners are able to improve both phonetic and phonological perception of the contrast. This may be attributed to their greater brain plasticity and less interference from undeveloped L1 phonetic categories. Finally, the third study examined how Japanese speakers improve production of English /r/ and /l/ through perceptual training, and found that perceptual training transferred to production ability in both identifiability and acoustic realisations. The improvement in production seemed to be attributable to perceptual learning. There may be a common underlying ability for perception and production, although the acoustic dimensions which link the two may be different between individuals. The theoretical implications for understanding learning mechanisms and age effects are discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Perceptual training of English /r/ and /l/ for Japanese adults, adolescents and children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Second language acquisition, Speech perception and production, Perceptual training
UCL classification: 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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1421176
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