Directing Attention During Perceptual Training: A Preliminary Study of Phonetic Learning in Southern Min by Mandarin Speakers

Ying Chen, Eric Pederson


Previous studies have shown that directing learners’ attention during perceptual training facilitates detection and learning of unfamiliar consonant categories [1, 2]. The current study asks whether this attentional directing can also facilitate other types of phonetic learning. Monolingual Mandarin speakers were divided into two groups directed to learn either 1) the consonants or 2) the tones in an identification training task with the same set of Southern Min monosyllabic words containing the consonants /ph, p, b, kh, k, ɡ, tɕh, tɕ, ɕ/ and the tones (55, 33, 22, 24, 41). All subjects were also tested with an AXB discrimination task (with a distinct set of Southern Min words) before and after the training. Unsurprisingly, both groups improved accuracy in the sound type to which they attended. However, the consonant-attending group did not improve in discriminating tones after training and neither did the tone-attending group in discriminating consonants — despite both groups having equal exposure to the same training stimuli. When combined with previous results for consonant and vowel training, these results suggest that explicitly directing learners’ attention has a broadly facilitative effect on phonetic learning including of tonal contrasts.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1600

Cite as: Chen, Y., Pederson, E. (2017) Directing Attention During Perceptual Training: A Preliminary Study of Phonetic Learning in Southern Min by Mandarin Speakers. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 1770-1774, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1600.


@inproceedings{Chen2017,
  author={Ying Chen and Eric Pederson},
  title={Directing Attention During Perceptual Training: A Preliminary Study of Phonetic Learning in Southern Min by Mandarin Speakers},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={1770--1774},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1600},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1600}
}