L2 speech learning research
- The 2005 talk is is entitled "The origins & development of the Speech Learning Model". This keynote was
presented in 2005 at the 1st ASA Conference on L2 Speech Learning in Vancouver, BC, out of which
was derived a Fetshirt presented to me on the occaision of my retirement: O.S. Bohn & M.J. Munro, Eds.
(2007) Language experience in second language speech learning: In Honour of James Emil Flege.
2007, Absterdam, John Benjamins.)
- The 2010 talk is entitled "Age" effects on second language acquisition". It was presented in Poznań,
Poland at the New Sounds conference held there.
- The 2012 talk entitled "The role of input in second language learning" examines in some detail the role of
input. From the vantage point of six years of retirement, I reached a conclusion that was decades in the
making: namely, the single most important influence on overall degree of success in pronouncing and
perceiving an L2 is the amount and kind of input the learner has received.
- The 2016 talk is entitled The role of phonetic category formation in second language speech acquisition.
It was presented at the Eighth International Conference on Second Language Speech held in June of
2016 at Aarhus University in Denmark.
Here you can download reports of research carried out at the Biocommunication
Research Laboratory of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The research was
supported by grants from the National Institute of Deafness & Other Communicative
Two notes on terminology. I nearly always used the term "L2 learning" rather than "L2
acquisition" because I consider learning to be an ongoing process without a clear
endpoint. I usually say "L2 learner" rather than "bilingual" for the following reason. It is
clear that with sufficient use and experience most (all?) L2 learners become bilinguals
but it is not clear when this magic moment occurs. Simply defining as "bilingual" any
individual who uses two languages on a regular basis is insufficient given that an L2
can be learned as a "special purpose" language (e.g., the English monolingual who
learns 20 Spanish words in order to wait tables in a Mexican restaurant).
One element lacking in the research presented here are accurate measurements (as
opposed to estimates, or or just plain guesses) of the quantity and quality of L2 input.
We did manage to demonstrate, however, that participants who reported using the L2
relatively often and the L1 relatively infrequently had better outcomes than infrequent
L2-frequent L1 users. I continue to think that input is the single most important
determinant of success in learning L2 speech. It will remain for others to determine if
this is indeed true.
The strength and degree of activation of a bilingual's L1 and L2 vary as a function of
overall use and the contexts of language use. The L1 speech system influences that of
the L2, and vice versa. The strengh and directionality of such effects may vary, at least
to some extent, on patterns of language use. Accepting this reality adds an entirely new
dimension to L2 speech research which our work in Birmingham hardly touched.
Discussion. This section is intended to a place for visitors to this site to ask questions publicly or to provide
their own take on various issues relating to L2 speech learning.
Chapters. This section presents articles that appeared in published books. To download, click on the the
boldfaced characteres, which indicates the name of the author(s) and date of publication. Seven chapters are
especially relevant to how the Speech Learning Model (SLM) evolved over time. These are marked with the
Journal articles. The next four sections contain articles that were published in peer-reviewed journals. They
have been grouped according to year of publication.
Most of the work made available on this site deals with phonetic aspects of second
language (L2) learning. The work presented here may be of interest to those who study
foreign language (FL) learning in the classroom. However, it is important to note that
our L2 research focused on individuals learning an L2 naturalistically, often after
immigrating to a country where the L2 was needed for everyday use and, indeed,
economic survival. Given the necessity of learning the L2 by most of our research
participants, we didn't find it useful to explore the role of motivation on speech learning.
That topic is, of course, of greater interest to those who study FL acquisition in the
|Download second-language (L2) speech research
Conferences. This section contains articles published in the proceedings of special conferences or at the
annual meetings of a professional society such as the Acoustical Society of America. Also posted here are four
actual conference presentations that may be of interest to those wanting to learn more about the SLM:
Links. I will be happy to provide a link to your conference or lab if it is not already found here.
Language Background Questionnaires. Download one I have used in previous research, or contribute your
own for others to use.