DOI: 10.14704/nq.2018.16.4.1210

Acoustic Analysis of Intensive Language Exposure on Second Language Learners’ Cognitive Perception Pattern of American English Phonemes

Chunyi Zhou


This paper attempts to quantify the perception of tense vowel /i/ and lax vowel /I/ in American English by native speakers and Chinese learners and testify if Chinese learners also rely more on acoustic features than duration to differentiate the minimal pair /i/-/I/ in the phonetic system of American English. Based on the related phonetic studies in second language learners (SLLs), the perceptual assimilation model (PAM) and the speech learning model (SLM) were adopted to discuss the effect of intensive language exposures on the perception of English phonemes among Chinese learners. To quantify the effects of the ILE on the perception pattern of the SLLs, two English phonetic continuums were constructed for a tense-lax vowel contrast /i/ and /I/. Then, three groups of subjects, involving 60 English major students and 10 native speakers, received two identification tests and one discrimination test. The test results reveal that the native speakers and the SLLs relied on different acoustic cues to distinguish between /i/ and /I/. The former mainly depended on formant distribution, while the latter on duration. Besides, it is also concluded that the ILE enabled the SLLs to develop a similar perception pattern to that of the native speakers. The research sheds new light on the acquisition of second language among Chinese learners.


Acoustic analysis, cognitive perception pattern, intensive language exposure (ILE), second language learners (SLLs), native language (L1), target language (L2)

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