SRPP: Foreign language acquisition of novel L2 segments

Phil Howson (ZAS Berlin)
17 February 2023, 14h0015h30

In this talk, I am discussing results from two studies that look at how learners acquire perceptually similar sibilant fricatives. When language learners acquire a new language, they are also charged with the task of learning novel segments. In cases where the novel segment is perceptually similar to an L1 segment, acquisition is often slowed or even blocked (Flege, 1995; Best & Tyler, 2007). My goal for this research project is to better understand the L2 acquisition processes and examine how the link between perception and articulation plays a role in second language acquisition.

In the first study, I examined the acquisition of the three-way sibilant contrast, /s, ʂ, ɕ/, by L2 Lower Sorbian learners. In this context, there are no remaining L1 speakers who are teachers, the L1 population is also extremely small, and L2 learners often have no access to L1 speakers. In the second study, I examined L2 acquisition of the three-way sibilant contrast, /s, ʂ, ɕ/, by L2 Polish learners. In this context, regular pronunciation training has taken place to attempt to correct speech errors. The results will be discussed in context of L2 models of acquisition and foreign language acquisition contexts.