The phonetics of second language learning and bilingualism
Chang, Charles B.
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Citation (published version)Charles B Chang. 2018. "The phonetics of second language learning and bilingualism." pp. 1-36
This chapter provides an overview of major theories and findings in the field of second language (L2) phonetics and phonology. Four main conceptual frameworks are discussed and compared: the Perceptual Assimilation Model-L2, the Native Language Magnet Theory, the Automatic Selection Perception Model, and the Speech Learning Model. These frameworks differ in terms of their empirical focus, including the type of learner (e.g., beginner vs. advanced) and target modality (e.g., perception vs. production), and in terms of their theoretical assumptions, such as the basic unit or window of analysis that is relevant (e.g., articulatory gestures, position-specific allophones). Despite the divergences among these theories, three recurring themes emerge from the literature reviewed. First, the learning of a target L2 structure (segment, prosodic pattern, etc.) is influenced by phonetic and/or phonological similarity to structures in the native language (L1). In particular, L1-L2 similarity exists at multiple levels and does not necessarily benefit L2 outcomes. Second, the role played by certain factors, such as acoustic phonetic similarity between close L1 and L2 sounds, changes over the course of learning, such that advanced learners may differ from novice learners with respect to the effect of a specific variable on observed L2 behavior. Third, the connection between L2 perception and production (insofar as the two are hypothesized to be linked) differs significantly from the perception-production links observed in L1 acquisition. In service of elucidating the predictive differences among these theories, this contribution discusses studies that have investigated L2 perception and/or production primarily at a segmental level. In addition to summarizing the areas in which there is broad consensus, the chapter points out a number of questions which remain a source of debate in the field today.
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