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The Development of English Vowels By Native Spanish Speakers

Jeske, Andrew (2016) The Development of English Vowels By Native Spanish Speakers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Previous studies have shown that exposure to a second language (L2) changes one’s perception and production of L2 sounds to become more native-like (e.g., Flege, 1995; Flege & MacKay, 2004). This change has been documented most commonly among immigrants after they move to an environment where the L2 is the main means of communication (e.g., Jia & Aaronson, 2003). However, many people get introduced to a foreign language in school and it has been found that the amount of L2 exposure provided to students in a foreign language classroom is not equivalent to the amount of exposure experienced by immigrants and, therefore, will not produce the same kinds of benefits (e.g., White & Genesee, 1996). This dissertation aimed to examine the effects different amounts of L2 exposure in a classroom environment can have on the perception and production of English front vowels (/i ɪ e ɛ æ/). The participants for this study were a group 2nd, 4th, and 6th graders from two schools (one bilingual, one non-bilingual) who shared the same L1 (Spanish) and age of first exposure to L2 English, but who differed in the amount of L2 exposure they received each week (5 hours vs. 14 hours). The participants’ perception was examined through a categorical discrimination task and their production of English front vowels was elicited via a picture-naming task. Predictions surrounding the relative discrimination difficulty of certain vowel pairs were made through the Perceptual Assimilation Model for Language Learners (PAM-L2) (Best & Tyler, 2007) and their production was evaluated through the Speech Learning Model (SLM) (Flege, 1995). Results from the perception task found a significant effect for school - the additional L2 exposure provided to the bilingual school students beneficially impacted their overall performance on the categorical discrimination task. However, this advantage was not clearly exhibited in their production because participants from each school were able to produce each English front vowel in a significantly distinct way. Further research will have to be conducted to see if the differences in production between the two schools affected the intelligibility of the target words.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Jeske, Andrewarj36@gmail.comARJ36
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Committee MemberMauk, Claudecemauk@pitt.eduCEMAUK
Committee MemberTokowicz, Natashatokowicz@pitt.eduTOKOWICZ
Committee MemberKanwit, Matthewmkanwit@pitt.eduMKANWIT
Date: 6 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 March 2016
Approval Date: 6 June 2016
Submission Date: 15 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 142
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Second language acquisition, perception, production, phonetics, phonology
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2016 18:48
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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