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Developing non-native vowel representations: a study on child second language acquisition

Simon, E., & Sjerps, M. J. (2014). Developing non-native vowel representations: a study on child second language acquisition. COPAL: Concordia Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 5, 693-708.
This study examines what stage 9‐12‐year‐old Dutch‐speaking children have reached in the development of their L2 lexicon, focusing on its phonological specificity. Two experiments were carried out with a group of Dutch‐speaking children and adults learning English. In a first task, listeners were asked to judge Dutch words which were presented with either the target Dutch vowel or with an English vowel synthetically inserted. The second experiment was a mirror of the first, i.e. with English words and English or Dutch vowels inserted. It was examined to what extent the listeners accepted substitutions of Dutch vowels by English ones, and vice versa. The results of the experiments suggest that the children have not reached the same degree of phonological specificity of L2 words as the adults. Children not only experience a strong influence of their native vowel categories when listening to L2 words, they also apply less strict criteria.
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