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    Perceptual strategies underlying second language acquisition

    Kachlicka, Magdalena (2023) Perceptual strategies underlying second language acquisition. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    The literature suggests that listeners do not pay equal attention to all available acoustic information. Instead, when perceiving speech, they place more importance on some acoustic cues than others (Francis & Nusbaum, 2002). The patterns of weights assigned to different cues appear to change with increased linguistic experience, not only in the first language (L1; Mayo et al., 2003) but also in the second language (L2; Chandrasekaran et al., 2010). However, the role of attention and salience in cue weighting is still under discussion. This thesis presents a series of experiments designed to test this hypothesis in the context of native English speakers and Mandarin Chinese learners of English. First, we compared how prior experience (language background, musical training, and their interaction) shapes cue weighting strategies and tested whether the cue weighting of different cues reflects the direction of attention towards them or their salience. Compared to English speakers, Mandarin speakers showed enhanced attention to and preferential use of pitch across tasks but no increased pitch salience. Effects of musical training were contingent upon participants’ L1. We also demonstrated that perceptual strategies are not consistent across tasks, suggesting they are not driven by domain-general abilities. Second, since acoustic cues play different roles across languages, learning a new language might require listeners to make greater use of L1-irrelevant dimensions. We designed a targeted training focused on redirecting listeners’ attention towards an L2-relevant acoustic cue. Although the observed training effects were not long-lasting, we showed that perceptual strategies in categorizing L2 prosody could be adjusted with as little as three hours of training. This finding has the potential to inform the development of L2 learning paradigms targeting specific auditory challenges experienced by learners. Overall, this thesis provides novel insights into the long-debated role of dimension-selective attention and dimensional salience in cue weighting.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2024 17:08
    Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 14:31
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/52901
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.18743/PUB.00052901

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