The effects of high versus low talker variability and individual aptitude on phonetic training of Mandarin lexical tones
- Subject Areas
- Psychiatry and Psychology, Computational Science
- L2 phonetic contrasts, Phonetic training, Lexical tone learning, Second language
- © 2019 Dong et al.
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2019. The effects of high versus low talker variability and individual aptitude on phonetic training of Mandarin lexical tones. PeerJ Preprints 7:e27063v2 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27063v2
High variability training has been found to be more effective than low variability training when learning various non-native phonetic contrasts. However, little research has considered whether this applies to the learning of tone contrasts. The only two relevant studies suggested that the effect of high variability training depends on the perceptual aptitude of participants (Perrachione, Lee, Ha, & Wong, 2011; Sadakata & McQueen, 2014). The present study extends these findings by examining the interaction between individual aptitude and input variability using natural, meaningful second language input (both previous studies used pseudowords). Sixty English speakers took part in an eight session phonetic training paradigm. They were assigned to high/low/high-blocked variability training groups and learned real Mandarin tones and words. Individual aptitude was measured following previous work. Learning was measured using one discrimination task, one identification task and two production tasks. All tasks assessed generalisation. All groups improved in both the production and perception of tones which transferred to untrained voices and items, demonstrating the effectiveness of training despite the increased complexity compared with previous research. Although the low variability group exhibited an advantage with the training stimuli, there was no evidence for a benefit of high-variability in any of the tests of generalisation. Moreover, although aptitude significantly predicted performance in discrimination, identification and training tasks, no interaction between individual aptitude and variability was revealed. Additional Bayes Factor analyses indicated substantial evidence for the null for the hypotheses of a benefit of high-variability in generalisation, however the evidence regarding the interaction was ambiguous. We discuss these results in light of previous findings.
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