Training a non-native vowel contrast with a distributional learning paradigm results in improved perception and production

Heather Kabakoff, Gretchen Go, Susannah V. Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous distributional learning research suggests that adults can improve perception of a non-native contrast more efficiently when exposed to a bimodal than a unimodal distribution. Studies have also suggested that perceptual learning can transfer to production. The current study tested whether the addition of visual images to reinforce the contrast and active learning with feedback would result in learning in both conditions and would transfer to gains in production. Native English-speaking adults heard stimuli from a bimodal or unimodal /o/-/œ/ continuum. No group differences were found on a discrimination task, possibly suggesting that the supports eliminated previously documented group differences. On an identification task, listeners in the bimodal group showed better performance than the unimodal group on the endpoint stimuli. Production results indicated that both groups showed increased Euclidean distance between the target vowels after training, suggesting that perceptual training improved production skills in both conditions. Contrary to expectations, degree of perception and production learning were not correlated. Together, these results suggest that a bimodal distribution may aid learning, but that adding images to reinforce the contrast and active learning to the training paradigm could mitigate disadvantages found previously for participants exposed to a unimodal distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100940
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Volume78
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Distributional learning
  • Phonemic contrasts
  • Second language acquisition
  • Speech perception
  • Speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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