Article/Report  |   December 2007
Training Japanese Listeners to Perceive American English Vowels: Influence of Training Sets
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kanae Nishi
    Indiana University
  • Diane Kewley-Port
    Indiana University
  • Contact author: Kanae Nishi, who is currently at Boys Town National Research Hospital, 555 North 30th Street, Omaha, NE 68131. E-mail: nishik@boystown.org.
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article/Report   |   December 2007
Training Japanese Listeners to Perceive American English Vowels: Influence of Training Sets
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research December 2007, Vol.50, 1496-1509. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/103)
History: Accepted 02 Jun 2007 , Received 13 Jul 2006
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research December 2007, Vol.50, 1496-1509. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/103)
History: Accepted 02 Jun 2007 , Received 13 Jul 2006

Purpose: Studies on speech perception training have shown that adult 2nd language learners can learn to perceive non-native consonant contrasts through laboratory training. However, research on perception training for non-native vowels is still scarce, and none of the previous vowel studies trained more than 5 vowels. In the present study, the influence of training set sizes was investigated by training native Japanese listeners to identify American English (AE) vowels.

Method: Twelve Japanese learners of English were trained 9 days either on 9 AE monophthongs (fullset training group) or on the 3 more difficult vowels (subset training group). Five listeners served as controls and received no training. Performance of listeners was assessed before and after training as well as 3 months after training was completed.

Results: Results indicated that (a) fullset training using 9 vowels in the stimulus set improved average identification by 25%; (b) listeners in both training groups generalized improvement to untrained words and tokens spoken by novel speakers; and (c) both groups maintained improvement after 3 months. However, the subset group never improved on untrained vowels.

Conclusions: Training protocols for learning non-native vowels should present a full set of vowels and should not focus only on the more difficult vowels.

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