Age effects on single phoneme perception for learners of English as a foreign language


Abstract  The purpose of this study is to assess the influence of onset age on non-native speakers’ perception of English vowel and consonant sounds. Early exposure to the target language has been shown to be a good predictor of native-like phonological competence. However, this early advantage may not be found in formal instruction settings. Additionally, the age variable does not seem to affect consonants and vowels in the same way. Our identification test results indicated that, after 560 hours of formal instruction in English, older learners (onset age 11) exhibited better discrimination skills than younger learners (onset age 4 and 8) and that the differences among these groups were larger for consonant perception than for vowel perception.

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