The Role of Orthography and Phoneme Inventory in Dutch Students’ Speech Perception in the EFL Classroom
Keywords:perceptual learning, large phoneme inventory, Dutch, English, orthography
The goal of this paper is twofold: to determine whether orthography hampers students’ L2 speech perception and whether, as PAM-L2 predicts, the L1 phoneme inventory influences L2 speech perception of Dutch secondary school students. First, a pilot perception test was administered to see if ‘new’ sounds that do not exist in the Dutch phoneme inventory are harder to perceive than ‘same’ sounds. Next, another perception test was created to look at whether orthography hampers Dutch students’ perception of -for Dutch listeners- difficult English phonemes or phoneme clusters. In that perception test, all phoneme (cluster)s were embedded in common English words as spoken stimuli, and the written target words were sometimes words with an orthography that corresponded with the auditorily perceived word and sometimes with an orthography that differed from the auditorily perceived word. Results indicate that orthography impedes perception. Furthermore, in line with the predictions of PAM-L2, ‘new’ L2 sounds are harder to perceive than ‘same’ sounds.
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