Perception of Fa by non-native listeners in a study abroad context

Open access


The present study aims at exploring the under-investigated interface between SA and L2 phonological development by assessing the impact of a 3-month SA programme on the pronunciation of a group of 23 Catalan/Spanish learners of English (NNSs) by means of phonetic measures and perceived FA measures. 6 native speakers (NS) in an exchange programme in Spain provided baseline data for comparison purposes. The participants were recorded performing a reading aloud task before (pre-test) and immediately after (post-test) the SA. Another group of 37 proficient non-native listeners, also bilingual in Catalan/Spanish and trained in English phonetics, assessed the NNS' speech samples for degree of FA. Phonetic measures consisted of pronunciation accuracy scores computed by counting pronunciation errors (phonemic deletions, insertions and substitutions, and stress misplacement). Measures of perceived FA were obtained with two experiments. In experiment 1, the listeners heard a random presentation of the sentences produced by the NSs and by the NNSs at pre-test and post-test and rated them on a 7-point Likert scale for degree of FA (1 = “native” , 7 = “heavy foreign accent”). In experiment 2, they heard paired pre-test/post-test sentences (i.e. produced by the same NNS at pre-test and posttest) and indicated which of the two sounded more native-like. Then, they stated their judgment confidence level on a 7-point scale (1 = “unsure”, 7 = “sure”). Results indicated a slight, non-significant improvement in perceived FA after SA. However, a significant decrease was found in pronunciation accuracy scores after SA. Measures of pronunciation accuracy and FA ratings were also found to be strongly correlated. These findings are discussed in light of the often reported mixed results as regards pronunciation improvement during short-term immersion.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Avello P. Lara A.R. Mora J.C. and Pérez-Vida C. In press: The impact of Study Abroad and Length of Stay on Phonological Development in Speech Production. Proceedings of the 30th Aesla Conference Universitat de Lleida.

  • Avello P. 2011: Measuring Perceived Pronunciation Gains in Study Abroad: Methodological Issues. Paper presented at the 29th Aesla Conference Universidad de Salamanca.

  • Barron A. 2006: Learning to Say 'You' in German: The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Competence in a Study Abroad Context. In A. DuFon and E. Churchill (Eds.) 2006: Language Learners in Study Abroad Contexts. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters pp. 59-90.

  • Boersma P. and Weenick D. 2009. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer version 5.1.

  • Bradlow A. R. Akahane-Yamada R. Pisoni D. B. and Tohkura Y. 1999: Training Japanese Listeners to Identify English /r/ and /l/: Long-Term Retention of Learning in Perception and Production. Perception and Psychophysics 61(5) 977-985.

  • Brennan E. M. and Brennan J. S. 1981: Measurements of Accent and Attitude Toward Mexican-American Speech. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 10(05) 487-501

  • Brecht R. Davidson D. and Ginsberg R. 1995: Predictors of Foreign Language Gain during Study Abroad. In B. Freed (Ed.) Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company pp.37-66.

  • Collentine J. 2004: The Effects of Learning Contexts on Morphosyntactic and Lexical Development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 26(2) 227-248.

  • Derwing T. M. and Munro M. J. In press: The development of L2 oral language skills in two L1 groups: A seven-year study. Language Learning.

  • Derwing T. M. Munro M. J. and Wiebe G. 1998: Evidence in Favor of a Broad Framework for Pronunciation Instruction. Language Learning 48(3) 393-410.

  • Díaz-Campos M. 2006: The Effect of Style in Second Language Phonology: An Analysis of Segmental Acquisition in Study Abroad and Regular-Classroom Students. In C. A. Klee and T. L. Face (Eds.) Selected Proceedings of the 7th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages. Sommerville MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project pp.26-39.

  • Díaz-Campos M. 2004: Context of Learning in the Acquisition of Spanish Second Language Phonology. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 26 249-273.

  • DuFon A. and Churchill E. (Eds.) 2006: Language Learners in Study Abroad Contexts. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

  • Flege J. E. 1995: Second Language Speech Learning Theory Findings and Problems. In W. Strange (Ed.) Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-Language Research. Timonium MD: York Press pp.233-277.

  • Flege J. E. 1988: Factors Affecting Degree of Perceived Foreign Accent in English Sentences. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 84(1) 70-79.

  • Flege J. E. and Fletcher K. L. 1992: Talker and Listener Effects on Degree of Perceived Foreign Accent. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91(1) 370-389.

  • Fougeron C. and Smith C. L. 1999: French. In IPA (Ed.) Handbook of the International Phonetic Association pp.78-81.

  • Freed B. (Ed.) 1995: Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

  • Freed B. F. Dewey D. P. Segalowitz N. and Halter R. 2004: The Language Contact Profile. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 26(2) 349-356.

  • Howard M. 2005: On the role of context in the development of learner language: Insights from study abroad research. ITL International Journal of Applied Linguistics 148 1-20.

  • Højen A. D. 2003: Second-language speech perception and production in adult learners before and after short-term immersion. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Aarhus.

  • Juan-Garau M. and Pérez-Vidal C. 2007: The Effect of Context and Contact on Oral Performance in Students Who Go on a Stay Abroad. VIAL 4 117-134.

  • Kinginger C. 2009: Language Learning and Study Abroad. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Lafford B. 1995: Getting Into Through and Out of a Survival Situation: A Comparison of Communicative Strategies Used by Students Studying Spanish Abroad and 'At Home'. In B. Freed (Ed) : Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company pp. 97-122.

  • Llanes À. 2011: The Many Faces of Study Abroad: An Update on the Research on L2 Gains Emerged during a Study Abroad Experience. International Journal of Multilingualism 8(3) 189-215.

  • Llanes À. and Muñoz C. 2009: A Short Stay Abroad: Does it make a Difference? System 37(3) 353-365.

  • MacKay I. R. A. Flege J. E. and Imai S. 2006: Evaluating the Effects of Chronological Age and Sentence Duration on Degree of Perceived Foreign Accent. Applied Psycholinguistics 27 157-183.

  • Magen H. S. 1998: The Perception of Foreign-Accented Speech. Journal of Phonetics 26(4) 381-400.

  • Martínez-Celdrán E. Fernández Planas A. M. and Carrera-Sabaté J. 2003: Castilian Spanish. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33(02) 255-259.

  • Mora J. C. 2008: Learning Context Effects on the Acquisition of a Second Language Phonology. In C. Pérez-Vidal M. Juan-Garau and A. Bel (Eds.) A Portrait of the Young in the New Multilingual Spain. Clevendon: Multilingual Matters pp.241-263.

  • Munro M. J. Derwing T. M. and Morton S. L. 2006: The Mutual Intelligibility of L2 Speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 28(1) 111-131.

  • Pérez-Vidal C. and Juan-Garau M. 2011: The Effect of Context and Input Conditions on Oral and Written Development: A Study Abroad Perspective. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching 49(2) 157-185.

  • Pérez-Vidal C. and Juan-Garau M. 2009: The Effect of Study Abroad on Written Performance. In L. Roberts D. Véronique A. Nilsson and M. Tellier (Eds.) EUROSLA Yearbook Volume 9 (2009). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company pp.269-295.

  • Pérez-Vidal C. Juan-Garau M. and Mora J. C. 2011: The Effects of Formal Instruction and Study Abroad Contexts on Foreign Language Development: The SALA Project. In C. Sanz and R. P. Leow (Eds.) Implicit and Explicit Conditions Processes and Knowledge in SLA and Bilingualism. Washington D. C.: Georgetown University Press pp.115-138.

  • Riney T. and Flege J. E. 1998: Changes Over Time in Global Foreign Accent and Liquid Identifiability and Accuracy. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 20 213-243.

  • Roach P. 2004: British English: Received Pronunciation. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34(02) 239-245.

  • Schneider E. W. Burridge K. Kortmann B. Mesthrie R. and Upton C. (Eds.) 2004: A Handbook of Varieties of English. Volume 1: Phonology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Segalowitz N. and Freed B. 2004: Context Contact and Cognition in Oral Fluency Acquisition: Learning Spanish in at Home and Study Abroad Contexts. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 26(2) 173-199.

  • Trenchs-Parera M. 2009: Effects of Formal Instruction and Stay Abroad on the Acquisition of Native-Like Oral Fluency. The Canadian Modern Language Review 65(3) 365-393.

  • Trofimovich P. Lightbown P. Halter R. H. and Song H. 2009: Comprehension-Based Practice: The Development of L2 Pronunciation in a Listening and Reading Program. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 31 609-639.

  • Valls-Ferrer M. 2011: The development of oral fluency and rhythm during a study abroad period. Doctoral dissertation. Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Retrieved from

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.177
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.471

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 268 177 4
PDF Downloads 147 122 3