Perception of English Intonation by Japanese Learners of English

Tomoko Hori, Michiko Toyama, Mari Akatsuka


This study investigated the extent to which Japanese learners of English (JLE) correctly perceive English intonation contours (falling, rising, falling-rising), and whether training can improve their performance. The influence of an acoustic cue (duration) on learners’ perception errors (confusions), especially for rising contour, was also explored. In total, 245 JLE completed a forced-choice intonation identification task. To examine the influence of the durational cue, some stimuli were manipulated by shortening the duration between onset and start point of pitch rise. Analysis of JLE performance in terms of correct identification rate and perception errors revealed that falling tones were easiest to perceive correctly, followed by rising and then falling-rising tones. These differences across the three contours remained unchanged after training. While confusions were also observed between rising and falling-rising contours, correct identification of rising contour increased significantly for manipulated rising stimuli—that is, JLE exhibited sensitivity to duration in distinguishing rising from falling-rising contours, indicating that durational cues may cause perceptual confusion of rising and falling-rising contours.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-171

Cite as: Hori, T., Toyama, M., Akatsuka, M. (2020) Perception of English Intonation by Japanese Learners of English. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 838-842, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-171.


@inproceedings{Hori2020,
  author={Tomoko Hori and Michiko Toyama and Mari Akatsuka},
  title={{Perception of English Intonation by Japanese Learners of English}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={838--842},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-171},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-171}
}