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Title:English syllable confusion and imitation in Korean bilingual and monolingual children and adults
Author(s):Yoon, Sook-Youn
Director of Research:Johnson, Cynthia J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Johnson, Cynthia J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Allen, Jont B.; Gooler, David M.; Kim, Chin-Woo; Kuehn, David P.
Department / Program:Speech & Hearing Science
Discipline:Speech & Hearing Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Korean-English bilingual
Perceptual confusion
Speech production
Language sample analysis
Phonological awareness
Abstract:In the present study, Korean-English bilingual (KEB) and Korean monolingual (KM) children, between the ages of 8 and 13 years, and KEB adults, ages 18 and older, were examined with one speech perception task, called the Nonsense Syllable Confusion Matrix (NSCM) task (Allen, 2005), and two production tasks, called the Nonsense Syllable Imitation Task (NSIT) and the Nonword Repetition Task (NRT; Dollaghan & Campbell, 1998). The present study examined (a) which English sounds on the NSCM task were identified less well, presumably due to interference from Korean phonology, in bilinguals learning English as a second language (L2) and in monolinguals learning English as a foreign language (FL); (b) which English phonemes on the NSIT were more challenging for bilinguals and monolinguals to produce; (c) whether perception on the NSCM task is related to production on the NSIT, or phonological awareness, as measured by the NRT; and (d) whether perception and production differ in three age-language status groups (i.e., KEB children, KEB adults, and KM children) and in three proficiency subgroups of KEB children (i.e., English-dominant, ED; balanced, BAL; and Korean-dominant, KD). In order to determine English proficiency in each group, language samples were extensively and rigorously analyzed, using software, called Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT). Length of samples in complete and intelligible utterances, number of different and total words (NDW and NTW, respectively), speech rate in words per minute (WPM), and number of grammatical errors, mazes, and abandoned utterances were measured and compared among the three initial groups and the three proficiency subgroups. Results of the language sample analysis (LSA) showed significant group differences only between the KEBs and the KM children, but not between the KEB children and adults. Nonetheless, compared to normative means (from a sample length- and age-matched database provided by SALT), the KEB adult group and the KD subgroup produced English at significantly slower speech rates than expected for monolingual, English-speaking counterparts. Two existing models of bilingual speech perception and production—the Speech Learning Model or SLM (Flege, 1987, 1992) and the Perceptual Assimilation Model or PAM (Best, McRoberts, & Sithole, 1988; Best, McRoberts, & Goodell, 2001)—were considered to see if they could account for the perceptual and production patterns evident in the present study. The selected English sounds for stimuli in the NSCM task and the NSIT were 10 consonants, /p, b, k, g, f, θ, s, z, ʧ, ʤ/, and 3 vowels /I, ɛ, æ/, which were used to create 30 nonsense syllables in a consonant-vowel structure. Based on phonetic or phonemic differences between the two languages, English sounds were categorized either as familiar sounds—namely, English sounds that are similar, but not identical, to L1 Korean, including /p, k, s, ʧ, ɛ/—or unfamiliar sounds—namely, English sounds that are new to L1, including /b, g, f, θ, z, ʤ, I, æ/. The results of the NSCM task showed that (a) consonants were perceived correctly more often than vowels, (b) familiar sounds were perceived correctly more often than unfamiliar ones, and (c) familiar consonants were perceived correctly more often than unfamiliar ones across the three age-language status groups and across the three proficiency subgroups; and (d) the KEB children perceived correctly more often than the KEB adults, the KEB children and adults perceived correctly more often than the KM children, and the ED and BAL subgroups perceived correctly more often than the KD subgroup. The results of the NSIT showed (a) consonants were produced more accurately than vowels, and (b) familiar sounds were produced more accurately than unfamiliar ones, across the three age-language status groups. Also, (c) familiar consonants were produced more accurately than unfamiliar ones in the KEB and KM child groups, and (d) unfamiliar vowels were produced more accurately than a familiar one in the KEB child group, but the reverse was true in the KEB adult and KM child groups. The KEB children produced sounds correctly significantly more often than the KM children and the KEB adults, though the percent correct differences were smaller than for perception. Production differences were not found among the three proficiency subgroups. Perception on the NSCM task was compared to production on the NSIT and NRT. Weak positive correlations were found between perception and production (NSIT) for unfamiliar consonants and sounds, whereas a weak negative correlation was found for unfamiliar vowels. Several correlations were significant for perceptual performance on the NSCM task and overall production performance on the NRT: for unfamiliar consonants, unfamiliar vowels, unfamiliar sounds, consonants, vowels, and overall performance on the NSCM task. Nonetheless, no significant correlation was found between production on the NSIT and NRT. Evidently these are two very different production tasks, where immediate imitation of single syllables on the NSIT results in high performance for all groups. Findings of the present study suggest that (a) perception and production of L2 consonants differ from those of vowels; (b) perception and production of L2 sounds involve an interaction of sound type and familiarity; (c) a weak relation exists between perception and production performance for unfamiliar sounds; and (d) L2 experience generally predicts perceptual and production performance. The present study yields several conclusions. The first is that familiarity of sounds is an important influence on L2 learning, as claimed by both SLM and PAM. In the present study, familiar sounds were perceived and produced correctly more often than unfamiliar ones in most cases, in keeping with PAM, though experienced L2 learners (i.e., the KEB children) produced unfamiliar vowels better than familiar ones, in keeping with SLM. Nonetheless, the second conclusion is that neither SLM nor PAM consistently and thoroughly explains the results of the present study. This is because both theories assume that the influence of L1 on the perception of L2 consonants and vowels works in the same way as for production of them. The third and fourth conclusions are two proposed arguments: that perception and production of consonants are different than for vowels, and that sound type interacts with familiarity and L2 experience. These two arguments can best explain the current findings. These findings may help us to develop educational curricula for bilingual individuals listening to and articulating English. Further, the extensive analysis of spontaneous speech in the present study should contribute to the specification of parameters for normal language development and function in Korean-English bilingual children and adults.
Issue Date:2011-01-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Sook-Youn Yoon
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-21
Date Deposited:2010-12

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