Volume 128, Issue 6, December 2010
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
The effect of native vowel processing ability and frequency discrimination acuity on the phonetic training of English vowels for native speakers of Greek128(2010); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3506351View Description Hide Description
The perception and production of nonnative phones in second language (L2) learners can be improved via auditory training, but L2 learning is often characterized by large differences in performance across individuals. This study examined whether success in learning L2 vowels, via five sessions of high-variability phonetic training, related to the learners’ native (L1) vowel processing ability or their frequency discriminationacuity. A group of native speakers of Greek received training, while another completed the pre-/post-tests but without training. Pre-/post-tests assessed different aspects of their L2 and L1 vowel processing and frequency acuity. L2 and L1 vowel processing were assessed via: (a) Natural English (L2) vowel identification in quiet and in multi-talker babble, and natural Greek (L1) vowel identification in babble; (b) the categorization of synthetic English and Greek vowel continua; and (c) discrimination of the same continua. Frequency discriminationacuity was assessed for a nonspeech continuum. Frequency discriminationacuity was related to measures of both L1 and L2 vowel processing, a finding that favors an auditory processing over a speech-specific explanation for individual variability in L2 vowel learning. The most efficient frequency discriminators at pre-test were also the most accurate both in English vowelperception and production after training.