Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Voice onset time and foreign accent detection : are L2 learners better than monolinguals?

Josep Alba-Salas



Using an audiovisual perception task, two groups of native English listeners (monolinguals, and L2 learners of Spanish) were asked to identify which /p,t,k/ tokens had been produced by native English speakers and which ones by foreigners. The experiment found that self-reported criteria for foreign accent detection tended to be consistent with actual perceptual behavior, and that the L2 learners performed better, both at the group and at the individual level. These results suggest that foreign accent detection is cued by Voice Onset Time differences and taps into both our tacit knowledge of the native segmental norm and our implicit awareness of what constitutes a particular deviation from that norm. Moreover, the results suggest that, contrary to what some have assumed, monolinguals are not necessarily more sensitive to foreign accents than second language learners.


Lengua inglesa; Fonética; Percepción auditiva; Voice onset time; Segunda lengua


Copyright (c) 2004 Josep Alba-Salas

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