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Joseph Conrad phenomenon

reconsidered
Doc. PhDr. Magdalna Bil, PhD.
Department of English Language &
Literature, Faculty of Arts, the University
of Preov
1

Joseph Conrad phenomenon


reconsidered
Outline of the lecture:
The concept of foreign accent:
- production based and perceptual
-Joseph Conrad phenomenon
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners):
- The Doom Hypothesis
Further research into acquisition of second language
phonology:
- The Full Access Hypothesis
Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
development, plasticity
Recent research into the area
2

Foreign accent: production-based and


perceptual, Joseph Conrad phenomenon

Foreign accents relate to national


groups speaking the same language
(Major, 2001).
Foreign accent - the inability of
non-native language users to
produce the target language with
the phonetic accuracy required for
acceptance by native speakers as
native speech (Major, 2001)
3

Foreign accent: production-based and


perceptual, Joseph Conrad phenomenon

The lack of ability in late/adult


learners to achieve target like
proficiency in pronunciation in an
L2 has been labeled as the
Joseph Conrad phenomenon
by Scovel.

Foreign accent: production-based and


perceptual, Joseph Conrad phenomenon
Perceptual foreign accent (Strange, 1995; McAllister,
1997): Difficulty with which adult listeners
perceive the majority of phonetic contrasts that
are not functional in their L1.
L2 users difficulties in deciphering L2 speech (Garnes
and Bond, In: Celce-Murcia et al, 1996: 222-223):
lack of background knowledge (including cultural
gaps);
lack of knowledge of the L2 phonology, tendency to
transfer the rules and features of L1 to L2;
incomplete knowledge of L2 grammar and vocabulary.
5

Acquisition of second language phonology


(differences between early/infant and
late/adult learners): The Doom Hypothesis

Flege (Plasticity in Speech Perception,


2005): The Doom Hypothesis:
late/adult learners are unable to
acquire the phonology of a new
language in a native-like manner.
3 sources (Flege, PSP, 2005):
Linguistic research;
Neurolinguistic research and
Speech research.
6

Acquisition of second language phonology


(differences between early/infant and
late/adult learners): The Doom Hypothesis

A/ Linguistic research: phonological


grid (Trubetzkoy): L2 phonemes
perceived as phonemes of L1;
phonemic features not used
contrastively in learners L1 are
difficult or impossible to perceive, to
learn and to produce;
(Flege, 2005)
7

Acquisition of second language phonology


(differences between early/infant and
late/adult learners): The Doom Hypothesis
(Flege, 2005)
B/ neurolinguistic research:
Critical Period Hypothesis: Lenneberg (1969),
an early advocate: two hypotheses combined:
i/ Chomskys LAD Hypothesis (language acquisition
device, i.e. a species specific innate linguistic capacity
supposed to weaken progressively with the onset of
puberty)
ii/ and Penfields concept of cerebral dominance
(lateralization, i.e. assigning of certain functions to the
different hemispheres of the brain).
8

Acquisition of second language phonology


(differences between early/infant and
late/adult learners): The Doom Hypothesis

The underlying idea of the CPH: after


lateralization of speech centers in the
brain is complete, the ability to learn L2,
especially L2 phonology, diminishes.
Critical Period - "a biologically
determined period of life during which
maximal conditions for language
acquisition exist" (Celce - Murcia,
Brinton and Goodwin, 1996, p. 15). No
consensus among researchers in terms of delimiting
it.
9

Acquisition of second language phonology


(differences between early/infant and
late/adult learners): The Doom Hypothesis

Other possible explanation: derives


from neurology: adults are much less
successful in L2 speech learning
because of loss or atrophy of
neural plasticity of brain (i.e. its
ability to change and develop new
phonetic categories).
(Flege, 2005)
10

Acquisition of second language phonology


(differences between early/infant and
late/adult learners): The Doom Hypothesis
C/ Speech research studies: perceptual
attunement to L1 during infancy and
childhood. An individual who has become
perceptually attuned to their L1:
- incapable of perceiving L1-L2 differences;
- incapable of developing long-term
memory representations for L2 sounds.
(Flege, 2005)

11

Bil Dambov, 2009: study on accented speech:


pauses and emphasis (1/0475/08 Vega project)

Differences between L1 and L2 speakers


(teacher trainees started learning their L2 after
puberty) of English and German:
Total number of pauses;
Frequency of pauses;
Distribution of pauses;
Function of pauses;
Inapt emphasis and in L2 subjects productions
More diversity in L2 subjectsproductions.
12

Further research into acquisition of second language


phonology: The Full Access Hypothesis

Further research: early/infant late/adult


learners differences: failed to be satisfactorily
explained as arising solely from maturational
constraints;
and some research studies reported native-like
mastery in L2 in late/adult learners:
MAJOR, R.: A Model for Interlanguage Phonology. In: Interlanguage Phonology: The Acquisition of a
Second Language Sound System . Eds. G. Ioup and S. H. Weinberger. New York: Newbury House,
1987, p. 101-124:

Salisbury (1962) and Sorensen (1967) report on some


native communities (in Papua New Guinea and Northwest
Amazon): multilingualism is common there since it is a
desired and necessary skill and members of communities
often learn other languages as adults and reportedly
achieve target like pronunciation.
13

Further research into acquisition of second language


phonology: The Full Access Hypothesis

NEUFELD, G. G.: On the Acquisition of Prosodic and Articulatory

Features in Adult Language Learning. In: Interlanguage Phonology: The


Acquisition of a Second Language Sound System. Eds. G. Ioup and S. H.
Weinberger. New York: Newbury House, 1987, p. 321-332. :

A program for 3 groups of English speaking


subjects to learn Japanese, Chinese or Eskimo.
Results: out of the 20 adult subjects (8 males
and 12 females), 9: ratings within the range
of ratings usually obtained by L1 speakers;
6: qualified as near native like speakers and 5
performed in the manner one would normally
expect after such a short period of instruction.
14

Further research into acquisition of second language


phonology: The Full Access Hypothesis

Bongaerts, van Summeren, Planken

and Schils (1997): Age and ultimate


Attainment in the Pronunciation of a
Foreign Language. In: Studies in Second
Language Acquisition, vol. 19, 1997, no.
4, pp. 447-465.
Extremely successful speakers of English
(L1: Dutch): contributing factors: learner
characteristics or training environment.

15

Further research into acquisition of second language


phonology: The Full Access Hypothesis

Purely biological factors may not be sufficient to


account for adult performance in L2 acquisition:
Neufeld (1987): the CPH does not clarify why some
adults are capable of achieving (relatively) native like
proficiency;
Neufeld (1987): the differences between adults and
children: psychological factors and learner
characteristics: due to affective factors
(psychological disposition toward the target language
and its culture) and language learning strategies .
Bongaerts: learner characteristics and learning
environment favorable factors in enhancing
native-like proficiency in pronunciation.
16

Further research into acquisition of second language


phonology: The Full Access Hypothesis

Research studies into the


perception of foreign-accented
speech reveal that adults retain
some ability to perceive non-native
contrasts, store them in memory
and can even reproduce them
(after a period of exposure).
PSP (2005)
17

Further research into acquisition of second language


phonology: The Full Access Hypothesis

Flege (1984; In: Flege, PSP 2005):

Subjects: monolingual L1 English speaking adults;


Stimuli: in pairs (one uttered by a native English speaker
and one by a native French speaker). Listeners task:
choose foreign speaker. The results: native English adults
could spot within-category differences.

Flege & Hammond : Non-distinctive phonetic differences between language varieties.


Studies in Second Lang. Acquis. 5, 1-17. 1982; In: Flege, PSP 2005):

Subjects: 1st year college students attending English classes


taught by Spanish accented English teachers; production
task: imitate Spanish accented speech (acoustic analysis
proved they could spot between category differences).

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Full Access Hypothesis

Full Access Hypothesis:


the processes and devices that control
successful L1 speech acquisitionincluding
the ability to develop new phonetic
categories remain intact across the life
span (Flege, PSP 2005)- brain retains its
plasticity, i.e. ability to change even at adult
age

19

Current theory of L2 perception,


phonological development, plasticity

Researchers at the Acoustical Society of


America (ASA) presented (June 2003) the
results of their brain imaging studies and
clinical experiments that reveal how the L1 we
acquire distorts the perception of any
subsequent L2 sound system.
Researchers at Boston University (Guenther): a
neural network model: how phonetic categories
develop in cortex: After neurons correctly
distinguish the phonemes of a certain language,
they reorganize and become sensitive only to
between category differences, i.e. contrasts
that are functional in the language acquired.
The capacity of cortex to discriminate within
category differences (non-functional contrasts)
diminishes.

20

Current theory of L2 perception,


phonological development, plasticity Current
theory of L2 perception

Iverson et al. at UCL (2005): acquiring one's


native language phoneme categories ALTERS
PERCEPTION so that individuals become
more sensitive to between- than withincategory differences for L1 phonemes; i.e.
human auditory system gets tuned up to be
especially sensitive to the details critical in
our L1.
When trying to learn another language, those
tunings may prove to be inappropriate and
interfere with ones ability to learn new
categories Joseph Conrad phenomenon.
21

Current theory of L2 perception,


phonological development, plasticity Current
theory of L2 perception

Paul IVERSON, Patricia K. KUHL,


Reiko AKAHANE-YAMADA, Eugen
DIESCH, Yoh'ich TOHKURA, Andreas
KETTERMANN, and Claudia SIEBERT:
A perceptual interference account of
acquisition difficulties for nonnative
phonemes. In. Speech, Hearing and
Language: work in progress, Volume
13: 107-118:
22

Current theory of L2 perception,


phonological development, plasticity Current
theory of L2 perception

Maps of the human hearing apparatus: the


input of synthesized sounds that extend
over the continuum between the American
English phonemes /ra/ and /la/;
The English, German and Japanese
subjects - instructed to identify each
phoneme and to provide quality ratings.
The outcome: a map (our experience with
language distorts what we suppose we
hear): different perceptual patterns in
Japanese listeners.
23

Paul IVERSON, Patricia K. KUHL, Reiko AKAHANE-YAMADA, Eugen DIESCH,


Yoh'ich TOHKURA, Andreas KETTERMANN, and Claudia SIEBERT: A perceptual
interference account of acquisition difficulties for nonnative phonemes. In.
Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress, Volume 13: 107-118:

24

Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual


development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
Infants: born with the capability of learning any
language; language general pattern of perception;
due to exposure to speech during childhood:
changes in perceptual processing:
These changes interfere with the acquisition of L2:
the L2 speech: difficult to segment into words and
phonemes,
different phonemes in the second language - sound
as if they are the same as L1 phonemes.
Inappropriate perceptual processing: second language
production affected: the motor articulations of L2
difficult to reproduce.
25

Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual


development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
What is the core of the transition from a language-general to
a language-specific pattern of perception?

Early research: newborn infants are innately endowed with a


universal set of phonetic feature detectors
Due to maturation and lack of use: atrophy - adults eventually
develop language specific phonetic feature detectors .
This early conception of perceptual development - false:
Infants perceptual abilities: auditory processing, not innate
linguistic structures;
Adults: retain the ability to detect some non-native
phonemes to which they have had little exposure , and lose
the ability to distinguish some non-native phonemes to
which they have been exposed in the allophonic variation
of their native language (Example: r/l differences in Japanese
and Chinese speakers).
26

Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual


development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)

The initial perceptual abilities of infants


ARE ACTIVELY CHANGED BY
LANGUAGE EXPOSURE:
Their ability to differentiate withincategory differences for L1
phonemes diminishes.

27

Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual


development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
Which levels of processing are
changed by language exposure during
infant L1 acquisition?

Iverson (2005): More recent evidence:


language exposure may AFFECT
AUDITORY PROCESSING.
These perceptual changes: prior to the
recognition or categorization of speech
in terms of higher level linguistic units.
28

Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual


development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)

Kuhls hypothesis (1998; 2000): the CP for


language acquisition results more from
the interference of PREVIOUS
EXPERIENCE than from AGE .
Adults: NEURALLY COMMITTED (Kuhl,

2000) to a particular network structure


(underlying phonological representation
cortical representations) for decoding
language, more due to this type of
perceptual interference than to any
maturational constraints.
29

Current theory of L2 perception,


phonological development, plasticity Current
theory of L2 perception

THE DECLINE IN SECOND


LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
ABILITIES FROM CHILDHOOD
THROUGH PUBERTY

A PROGRESSIVELY STRONGER
NEURAL COMMITTMENT TO ONE'S
NATIVE LANGUAGE (Kuhl, 2000).
30

Even though an adult learning a second language could be


exposed to the same ACOUSTIC DISTRIBUTION of speech
sounds as an infant learning the same language, the
AUDITORY DISTRIBUTION of those sounds would be different
for an adult due to prior perceptual changes.

Acoustic distribution

Auditory distribution in
an infant

Auditory distribution in
an adult (Joseph Conrad)

31

Current view of phonological learning

(McAllister, 1997: 206): THE CURRENT VIEW


OF L2 PHONOLOGICAL LEARNING:
THE KEY TO THE MASTERY OF L2 SPEECH IS THE
SUCCESSFUL RESTRUCTURING OF THE L1
CATEGORICAL SYSTEM AND THE RESULTING
PERCEPTUAL RE-CATEGORIZATION OF THE
ARRANGEMENT OF ACOUSTIC INPUT STIMULI THAT
FIT THE PHONETIC CATEGORIES OF THE TARGET
LANGUAGE.
32

Current view of phonological learning

L2 learners:
Change their auditory processing of L2 speech
(= perceptual re-categorization);
Build new underlying categories (cortical
representations) for L2 sounds, i.e. a new
network structure (= restructuring of L1
categorical system).
33

Recent research into the area


Ongoing discussion:
Which linguistic, psychological
and social factors influence the
success or failure of an L2 learner
in this restructuring process?
What are the causes of intersubject variability ?(see also Flege,
PSP 2005).
34

Recent research into the area


The effect of a number of language and learner
variables of the perception of non-native phonemic
contrasts:

the learners length of exposure to L2


initial age of acquisition (AOA)
degree of ongoing use of L1
inherent skill in language acquisition
the phonological status of L2 sounds in the learners L1
(e.g., Best, 2001)
the inherent acoustic salience of L2 sounds, (OrtegaLlebaria, Faulkner & Hazan, PSP: 2005).
Learner variables: cross-language research has
emphasized the initial age of L2 acquisition and
amount of exposure to L2 as determining factors in
the ability to perceive and produce a foreign
language (B. G. Evans and P. Iverson (UCL): Plasticity in speech production and perception: A study of accent change
in young adults (PSP 2005) Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress. Volume 14, 2002, pp.
p.18-38
18-38).
).
in young adults (PSP 2005) Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress. Volume 14, 2002, p

35

Bil, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished


reduced input through gated speech

Shockey (2002): A natural speech recording in which


the time-domain waveform is gated so that only a
fraction of 50 ms of the signal is heard by the
listeners, the duration of this gated fraction is
progressively increased to a point at which the signal
is likely to be unfailingly identified by L1 listeners .
The presented graph illustrates the statistical
analysis (correspondence analysis) showing the
relationship between the AOA (age at which the
subjects -1st year ELT trainees started learning their
L2 English) and the number of words they
identified in the last gate (total number of words:
10).
36

Bil, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished


reduced input through gated speech

The subjects who started to learn


L2 at an earlier age performed
better.
Impossible to interpret: 3 (10-11
yrs): explanation: may have studied
English at secondary schools as false
beginners (questionnaire)

37

Bil, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished


reduced input through gated speech

Age of acquisition and perceptual performance


2 (6-9 yrs): 6-9 words
3 (10-11 yrs): impossible to interpret
4 (12-15 yrs): 4-5 words
2 D g r a f d ko v c h a s lo u p c . s o u a d n ic ; D im e n z e :

1 x 2

V s tu p n ta b . ( d ky x s l.) : 3 x 1 1
S ta n d a r d iz a c e : P r o fily d k a s lo u p c
0 ,6
100

0 ,4

81

0 ,2

0 ,0

5
4

- 0 ,2
4

- 0 ,4
2
- 0 ,6
2

D im enze 2; Vl. slo: ,10102

- 0 ,8
- 1 ,0
- 1 ,5

- 1 ,0

- 0 ,5
D im e n z e

0 ,0

0 ,5

1 ,0

1 ; V l. s lo : ,2 3 4 8 3 ( 6 9 ,9 2 % in e r c e

1 ,5

2 ,0

d .s o u .
S l o u p .s o u .

38

Bil, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished


reduced input through gated speech

The presented graph illustrates the


statistical analysis (correspondence
analysis) showing the relationship between
the LOR (length of residence in an L2
country) and the number of words the
subjects identified in the last gate (total
number of words: 10).
The subjects who experienced a
prolonged stay in an L2 country
performed better.
39

Recent research into the area

Bil, 2005: 3 - several months: 8-10 words


4 a year: 0-3 or 7-9 words
5 several years: 8-10 words.

2 D g r a f d ko v c h a s lo u p c . s o u a d n ic ; D im e n z e :

1 x 2

V s tu p n ta b . ( d ky x s l.) : 3 x 1 1
S ta n d a r d iz a c e : P r o fily d k a s lo u p c
1 ,0
3
0 ,8
0 ,6

180

0 ,4
0 ,2

12

34

0 ,0
97

- 0 ,2

- 0 ,4
- 0 ,6

56

D im enze 2; Vl. slo: ,2021

- 0 ,8
- 1 ,0
- 1 ,0

- 0 ,5

0 ,0
D im e n z e

0 ,5

1 ,0

1 ,5

1 ; V l. s lo : ,5 8 2 1 2 ( 7 4 ,2 3 % in e r c e

2 ,0

2 ,5

d .s o u .
S l o u p .s o u .

40

Recent research into the


area: PSP 2005
THE STUDIES PRESENTED AT PSP workshop
(2005):

THE ADULT PERCEPTUAL SYSTEM MAY BE MORE


PLASTIC THAN FORMERLY THOUGHT: even
adults can build new cortical representations.
FURTHER INSIGHT INTO:
A/ THE EFFECT OF SOME LINGUISTIC,
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS
ON ACQUISITION OF L2 PHONOLOGY AND
B/ POSSIBLE CAUSES OF INTERSUBJECT
VARIABILITY.
41

Recent research: PSP 2005

Patricia K. Kuhl University of Washington, Barbara Conboy


University of Washington: Infants' brain and behavioral
responses to speech: Implications for the Critical Period.
Results: (a) a negative correlation between infants' early
native versus nonnative phonetic discrimination skills, and
(b) that native- and nonnative-phonetic discrimination skills
at 7.5 months differentially predict future language ability.
Better native-language discrimination at 7.5 months
predicts accelerated later language abilities, whereas
better nonnative-language discrimination at 7.5
months predicts reduced later language abilities.

42

PSP 2005:B. G. Evans and P. Iverson (UCL): Plasticity in


speech production and perception: A study of accent change in young
adults. In: Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress. Volume
14, 2002, pp.18-38; In: PSP 2005: 71.

Subjects changed their spoken accent


after experience of attending university.
Changes: linked to exposure and to
sociolinguistic factors (motivation to fit
in with their university community).

Implications for cross-language research:


the age and amount of exposure as
determining factors in the ability to perceive
and produce a foreign language (Flege et al.,
1999).
But losing ones accent may also be affected
by ones willingness to be identified as a
member of the same culture as a native
speaker of that language.
43

Recent research into the


area: PSP 2005

Lengthy periods of auditory training,


as long as appropriate methods are
used: identification tasks with
feedback;
use of a diversity of materials from
multiple speakers.
Engagement with the training task critically important (providing the maximum
challenge for a given individual and
targeting that challenge towards specific
tasks).
44

Recent research: PSP 2005

Much inter-subject variability in L2 learners, especially late


learners (e.g., Hazan et al. 2002); many different explanations

offered but poorly understood

Auditory acuity, language learning aptitude,


phonological short-term memory,
identification with L2 culture, native speaker input, total input,
musical ability, bilingual balance, language dominance,
amount of L1 use, gender, L1, anxiety, integrative motivation,
instrumental motivation, strength of concern for pronunciation,
introversion, age, mimicry ability

What causes variation in individual performance?


45

Recent research into the


area: PSP 2005

Most inter-subject variability: due to variation in the


quantity and/or quality of L2 input received: If L2
learners strongly motivated to speak L2 well - receive much
native-speaker input. Maybe what are thought of as
motivational differences are really input differences
Flege (PSP 2005: 1-20).
My comment: If L2 learners are strongly motivated to
attain a good command of L2, they will seek to be
exposed to L2 in question and, consequently, receive
an abundance of native-speaker input and use it in a
way (personal engagement) that will contribute to
learning (intake).
Bilinguals: reduced degree of L1 activation - reduced L1- L2
interference (Flege, PSP 2005).
46

Most recent research into


the area

NeuroImage , 46 (2009) 226240


Neural signatures of phonetic learning in
adulthood: A magnetoencephalography study
Yang Zhang, Patricia K. Kuhl , Toshiaki
Imada, Paul Iverson, John Pruitt , Erica B.
Stevens , Masaki Kawakatsu, Yoh'ichi
Tohkura, Iku Nemoto
47

Neural signatures of phonetic learning in adulthood:


A magnetoencephalography study

Underlying assumption: application of


principles of L1 learning: IDS (infant directed
speech or motherese)
Use of magnetoencephalography (MEG)
brain images -- to study perceptual learning
A training software program: based on the
principles of infant phonetic learning
(systematic acoustic exaggeration, multi-talker
variability, visible articulation, and adaptive
listening immitation of motherese).
48

Recent research

The program: intended to help Japanese


listeners utilize an acoustic dimension relevant
for phonemic categorization of /rl/ in English
(for Japanese subjects allophones, i.e. within
category differences with regard to their L2).
Results: significant identification
improvement over 12 hours of training and
positive transfer of skills to novel stimuli .
49

Recent research

Important outcome: not only focus on key


features of the material but also to overcome
neural commitment, i.e. prior learning.
Therefore: important development of
methods.

50

Conclusion

Good news: Biology (age) is not a destiny and given


appropriate stimulus the brain can be retrained (Flege,
2005; Iverson et al., 2005, 2009) -

How? Exposure/ manipulating the input by using the


principles of L1 acquisition (exaggerated input, a variety of
input, providing visible articulation cues), training :
appropriate methods and stimuli are used, personal
engagement.

51

Conclusion

It is possible to teach the old


Joseph Conrad new
(pronunciation) tricks.

52