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Title:Learning novel vowel contrasts: experimental methods in classroom applications
Author(s):Pierce, Lisa
Director of Research:Cole, Jennifer S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cole, Jennifer S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hualde, José Ignacio; Ionin, Tania; Shih, Chilin
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
perceptual training
nonce words
coda context
Second language acquisiiton (SLA)
classroom-based research
Computer assisted language learning (CALL)
Abstract:This dissertation reports on perceptual training of tense-lax vowel contrasts in the context of an advanced-level ESL pronunciation class for Chinese and Korean international graduate students. The vowel contrasts were trained under four training paradigms designed to examine the effects of variation due to multiple speakers, different speech rates and coda consonant. Training material consisted of nonce word minimal pairs used to mitigate task complexity related to lexical access and to circumvent the effects of frequency and top-down processing. Participants completed pre- and post- tests on discriminating vowels in real word minimal pairs and nonce word minimal pairs. Vowel perceptual training took place over the course of six days wherein each day’s training consisted of 100 exemplars that students played as much or as little as they wanted; the number of sound files they played was tracked and recorded. Participants finished training at their own discretion and then were tested on a 25-member subset of that day’s training tokens. Chinese and Korean learners trained under one of four training paradigms; Training Paradigm A, multiple speakers, three speech rates; B, multiple speakers, one speech rate; C one speaker, three speech rates; D, one speaker, one speech rate. Chinese and Korean participants who trained in Paradigm A and B (but not C and D) made significant gains in their ability to identify vowel contrasts in real-word minimal pairs. Mandarin speaking participants made significant gains in the nonce-word post-test regardless of training paradigm; Korean participants made significant gains in nonce words in Paradigms A, B, and C but not D. Analysis of the test items indicated that Mandarin speakers made significant gains for tense vowels in training Paradigm A; lax vowels made significant gains in Paradigms B and D. Korean participants who trained in Paradigm C, saw significant gains for [ɛ], [i], [ɪ], [u], and [ʊ]. They also made significant gains identifying [ɛ] in Paradigm A, but no other training paradigm produced a significant difference between pre- and post-test. In sum, individual vowels were differentially difficult to master depending on the training paradigm, L1 and coda condition. These findings are considered in terms of the effects of variation in the training material, the influence of the L1 vowel inventory and language specific patterns of co-articulation related coda effects.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Lisa Pierce
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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