How L2 learners perceive English prosody

Shinobu Mizuguchi, Tim Mahrt, Koichi Tateishi


It is important for listeners to perceive boundaries and prominences of an utterance correctly for good communication. L2 learners have more difficulties in speech perception than L1 listeners. This paper investigates how Japanese learners of English as a foreign language (JEFLs) perceive English prosody. We have conducted Rapid Prosody Transcription (RPT) experiments on spontaneous speech and read texts with JEFLs and L1 listeners and compared how they perceive boundaries and prominences. We also conducted a perception experiment on narrow focus in English to consider how JEFLs process acoustic cues. Our findings are that JEFLs can perceive English narrow focus with almost perfect accuracy. JEFLs are also able to perceive prosodic boundaries and prominences in read text well, or even better than L1 listeners. Both L1 listeners and JEFLs have similar perceptual strategies toward prosody processing; they use pause for a boundary cue and duration for a prominence cue. A difference is found in spontaneous speech; L1 listeners use acoustic, syntactic (e.g. S and SBAR) and non-syntactic cues (e.g. Discourse Markers and Disfluencies), but JEFLs cannot handle non-syntactic cues. With these non-syntactic ‘distractors’, JEFLs are likely to be too confused to perceive boundaries correctly.


 DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2018-17

Cite as: Mizuguchi, S., Mahrt, T., Tateishi, K. (2018) How L2 learners perceive English prosody. Proc. ISAPh 2018 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics, 92-97, DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2018-17.


@inproceedings{Mizuguchi2018,
  author={Shinobu Mizuguchi and Tim Mahrt and Koichi Tateishi},
  title={{How L2 learners perceive English prosody}},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. ISAPh 2018 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics},
  pages={92--97},
  doi={10.21437/ISAPh.2018-17},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/ISAPh.2018-17}
}