The Perception of English Vowels by Native Korean and Mandarin Speakers
thesisposted on 20.04.2022, 16:59 authored by Alexis Nicole ZhouAlexis Nicole Zhou
L2 learners experience difficulties discriminating L2 contrasts that are absent in their L1. Popular theoretical frameworks (e.g., SLM, PAM, L2LP) make predictions about the acquisition of L2 phonemes, however, they do not consider the extent of L1 allophonic variability as a factor in the acquisition of L2 contrasts. In order to begin addressing this, the present study compared the perceptual discrimination of two English vowel contrasts by L1 Mandarin speakers, a language with a region of high variability in the vowel space, and L1 Korean speakers, a language without this variability. It was found that the Mandarin group was less accurate than their Korean counterparts for the English vowel contrast that is in the mid region of the vowel space, where there is high variability in the L1 Mandarin vowel inventory. This finding suggests that allophonic variability in the L1 needs to be taken into account when making theory-driven predictions concerning the acquisition of specific phonological categories of the L2.