Poorer Phonetic Perceivers Show Greater Benefit in Phonetic-Phonological Speech Learning

    Purpose

    Previous research has demonstrated that native English speakers can learn lexical tones in word context (pitch-to-word learning), to an extent. However, learning success depends on learners' pre-training sensitivity to pitch patterns. The aim of this study was to determine whether lexical pitch-pattern training given before lexical training could improve learning and whether or not the extent of improvement depends on pre-training pitch-pattern sensitivity.

    Method

    Learners with high and low pitch-pattern sensitivity were given training on lexical pitch patterns before lexical training.

    Results

    It was found that such training resulted in better learning than lexical training alone, primarily in learners with low pre-training pitch-pattern sensitivity.

    Conclusion

    These data support the importance of considering individual aptitudes when developing training and also the notion of phonetic–phonological–lexical continuity in word learning.

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