(Mis) perception of consonant clusters and short vowels in English as a foreign language

Alex Leung*, Martha Young-Scholten, Wael Almurashi, Saleh Ghadanfari, Chloe Nash, Olivia Outhwaite

*Corresponding author for this work

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Research addressing second language (L2) speech is expanding. Studies increasingly demonstrate that a learner’s first language (L1) filters the L2 input, resulting in learners misperceiving what they have heard. This L1 filter can result in learners perceiving sounds not actually present in the input. We report on a study which explored English consonant clusters and short, unstressed vowel perception of 70 Arabic-, Mandarin-, Spanish-speaking foreign language learners and 19 native English speakers. These are the vowels which speakers from two of the L1s typically insert in their production of English to break up L1-disallowed consonant clusters and the schwa which is documented to cause both perception and production problems. Results show that participants misperceive stimuli containing consonant clusters and counterparts where clusters are broken up by epenthetic/prothetic elements. In line with Sakai, Mari & Colleen Moorman 2018. We call for the inclusion of such findings on perception in pedagogical advice on pronunciation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20210030
Pages (from-to)731-764
Number of pages34
JournalIRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Issue number3
Early online date9 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2023

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