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PARTICIPANTS Fifty-six undergraduate students (age range 19-37; 17 male, 39 female) took part in this study, including 14 in each of the following language.

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Presentation on theme: "PARTICIPANTS Fifty-six undergraduate students (age range 19-37; 17 male, 39 female) took part in this study, including 14 in each of the following language."— Presentation transcript:

1 PARTICIPANTS Fifty-six undergraduate students (age range 19-37; 17 male, 39 female) took part in this study, including 14 in each of the following language background groups: monolingual, Spanish-English bilingual, Armenian- English bilingual, and multilingual. CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that bilingualism itself is not the underlying factor giving an advantage in distinguishing among the phonemes of an unfamiliar language. Rather than a broad-based general bilingual advantage, the advantage appears to be specific to the languages to which the individual was exposed. In this case, the target language, Korean, relies on a distinction between aspirated, tense and plain stop consonants, a distinction not made in English. Armenian also distinguishes between aspirated from plain stop consonants, while Spanish does not. This may, in part, explain why Armenian-English bilingual individuals outperformed English monolinguals in distinguishing among Korean stop consonants, but Spanish-English bilingual individuals did not. It is possible, however, that there may be a small general bilingual advantage that was not detected in this study. Early exposure to L2 and L3 languages did not have a significant effect except when the L2 or L3 language distinguished between aspirated and plain stop consonants. The type and amount of early exposure may also make a difference. This should be explored further. Our findings are consistent with most previous studies that found little or no effect for broad-based bilingual advantage in perceiving unrelated language phonemes (e.g. Werker, 1986), but not Enomoto’s (1994) results. The implications of this study are that exposure to many languages in order to increase phonetic categorization flexibility in general, may not be as directly effective as specific exposure to the specific phonetic distinctions. REFERENCES Cenoz, J. (2003). The additive effect of bilingualism on third language acquisition: A review. International Journal of Bilingualism, Davine, M., Tucker, G., & Lambert, W. (1971). The perception of phoneme sequences by monolingual and bilingual elementary school children. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 3, doi: /h Enomoto, K. (1994). L2 perception acquisition: The effect of multilingual linguistic experience on the perception of a less novel contrast. Edinburgh Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Kaushanskaya, M., Marian, V. (2009). Bilingualism reduces native-language interference during novel-word learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Werker, J. (1986). The effects of multilingualism on phonetic flexibility. Applied Psycholinguistics, Group Differences in Accuracy on Perception Task by Type of Consonant ________________________________________________________________________________________ Phoneme type F (3, 55) p η p 2 _________________________________________________________ Aspirated stop consonants Post-hoc: Spanish bilingual < Armenian bilingual and trilingual Plain stop consonants Post-hoc: Spanish bilingual < Armenian bilingual and trilingual Tense stop consonants Post-hoc: Armenian bilingual > monolingual & Spanish bilingual Velar stop consonants Post-hoc: Trilingual > monolingual and Spanish bilingual Denti-alveolar stop consonants Post-hoc: Armenian bilingual > Spanish bilingual. Bilabial stop consonants Post hoc: Spanish bilingual < Armenian bilingual and trilingual ________________________________________________________________________________________ Note: All post-hoc analysis in this table was Tukey's HSD test, and the differences listed have p <.05. All other differences were not significant. ________________________________________________________________________________________ Accuracy on Phoneme Perception Task by Language Group MONOLINGUAL, BILINGUAL, AND TRILINGUAL INDIVIDUALS’ PERCEPTION OF PHONEMES FROM AN UNRELATED LANGUAGE Lawrence Patihis, BA, and Janet S. Oh, PhD Department of Psychology, California State University, Northridge INTRODUCTION The evidence for a bilingual-over-monolingual advantage in the speech- sound perception of an unfamiliar language is mixed: No evidence of bilingual advantage: Lambert and Macnamara (1969) suggested a slight effect but there was no statistically significant differences between bilingual and monolingual individuals on their perception of the phonemes of the unfamiliar language (Russian). Similarly, Davine, Tucker, and Lambert (1971) found no statistical differences between bilingual and monolingual individuals. Werker (1986, N = 26) did not find a bilingual advantage, and theorized advantages are specific, not broad based. Evidence of bilingual advantage: Enotomo (1994, N = 10) did find a statistically significant bilingual advantage in perceiving unfamiliar phonemes, and suggested bilingual advantages may be broad-based. Kauchanskayaand Marian (2009) found that two bilingual groups, English-Spanish and English-Mandarin, outperformed English monolinguals in learning novel words. They suggested that bilingual individuals may be more flexible at categorizing phonemes. In this study, we examined the abilities of English monolinguals, Spanish-English and Armenian-English bilinguals, and trilinguals in distinguishing among the speech sounds of an unrelated and unfamiliar language, Korean. Based on Kauchanskaya and Marian’s (2009) findings, we predicted thattrilingualswould outperform bilinguals, who would in turn outperform monolinguals. Research questions: 1. Does bilingualism provide an advantage in distinguishing among the speech sounds of an unfamiliar language? 2. Does early childhood exposure to unrelated languages aid in this advantage? MATERIALS AND PROCEDURE Participants first completed a detailed language background surveys, which were followed by semi-structured interviews. The language background survey and interview asked about participants’ linguistic experiences from birth to adulthood, including how much they heard and spoke each language, with whom they spoke those languages, and how much they mixed with English. They then completed a Korean speech-sound discrimination task run with E- Prime 2.0 software. The task tested participants’ ability to discriminate among aspirated, plain, and tense stop consonants in Korean (denti-alveolar, bilabial, and velar consonants). There were 108 trials, in which participants heard three words, A B X, all from one minimal triplet, varying only in the target consonant. Participants indicated whether X matched A or B by pressing the appropriate key. ABSTRACT In this study, we investigated a possible bilingual-over- monolingual advantage in perception of the speech sounds of an unrelated language. Detailed language background surveys were used to identify and compare monolingual, bilingual, and trilingual individuals in their ability to distinguish among the speech-sounds of a language to which they had never been exposed (Korean). Based on the theory that exposure to more than one language increases phonological categorization flexibility and therefore perception, we hypothesized that trilinguals would do better than bilinguals, who would do better than monolinguals. Contrary to predictions, Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals performed similarly. Spanish-English bilinguals were less accurate than Armenian- English bilinguals, who were no different from trilinguals. We conclude that a bilingual advantage may not be general and broad-based but rather specific to those languages that distinguish between aspirated and plain stop-consonants. RESULTS Research Question #1: Does bilingualism provide an advantage in distinguishing among the speech sounds of an unfamiliar language? An ANOVA comparing the four groups on accuracy in the Korean speech- sound perception task revealed a main effect of group, F(3, 51) = 5.68, p =.002, η 2 =.247 (see graph). Tukeypost-hoc analyses revealed: Spanish-English bilinguals scored lower than both Armenian-English bilinguals and multilinguals (ps <.05), No other significant group differences. Further Analyses of Group Differences Type of phoneme: Armenian-English bilinguals’ advantage over Spanish- English bilinguals held for most of the phoneme contrasts in the study (see table). Spanish-English bilinguals showed no advantage over English monolinguals on any of the 47 different phoneme contrasts included in the perception task. Languages with aspirated-plain distinction: Bilingual and multilingual individuals who speak/understand a language that distinguishes aspirated from plain stop consonants have an advantage in perceiving the Korean phonemes (ps<.05 for 16 of 18 comparisons). Among those who speak/understand languages that do not distinguish plain from aspirated consonants, (i.e., eliminating Armenian and Thai speakers from the analyses), we found no significant difference between monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual participants on their accuracy distinguishing Korean stop-consonants, F(2, 35) = 2.33, p =.112, η p 2 =.118. Research Question #2: Does early childhood exposure to unrelated languages aid in this advantage? We found a reliable correlation (r =.437) between the number of languages overheard before the age of 3 and accuracy in the perception task, p =.001. However, in our data we found no significant effect of early exposure when the languages did not have an aspirated/ plain stop-consonant distinction. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many thanks to members of the Linguistic Minority Development Research Laboratory at California State University, Northridge, who contributed to the project in a number of ways: Marissa Weyer, Bertha Nash, Kyungwon Kang, Mariko Iwabuchi, Gloria Chanyang Lee, Jonathan Zeledon and Martin Nolasco. We also thank Sahyang Kim and Dr. Sun-Ah Jun at UCLA who helped in the creation of the sound files for the experiment. CONTACT INFORMATION


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