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Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants by Late Bilinguals Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants by Late Bilinguals

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Western University, University College, London, Ontario N6A 1G9, Canada
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Languages 2020, 5(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010007
Received: 3 December 2019 / Revised: 15 January 2020 / Accepted: 20 January 2020 / Published: 22 January 2020
The ability to discriminate phonetically similar first language (L1) and second language (L2) sounds has significant consequences for achieving target-like proficiency in second-language learners. This study examines the L2 perception of Spanish approximants [β, δ, ɣ] in comparison with their voiced stop counterparts [b, d, g] by adult English-Spanish bilinguals. Of interest is how perceptual effects are modulated by factors related to language dominance, including proficiency, language history, attitudes, and L1/L2 use, as measured by the Bilingual Language Profile questionnaire. Perception of target phones was assessed in adult native Spanish speakers (n = 10) and Spanish learners (n = 23) of varying proficiency levels, via (vowel-consonant-vowel) VCV sequences featuring both Spanish approximants and voiced stops during an AX discrimination task. Results indicate a significant positive correlation between perceptual accuracy and a language dominance score. Findings further demonstrate a significant hierarchy of increasing perceptual difficulty: β < δ < ɣ. Through an examination of bilingual language dominance, composed of the combined effects of language history, use, proficiency, and attitudes, the present study contributes a more nuanced and complete examination of individual variables that affect L2 perception, reaching beyond proficiency and experience alone.
Keywords: L2 speech perception; bilingual language dominance; second language acquisition; Spanish approximants; late bilinguals L2 speech perception; bilingual language dominance; second language acquisition; Spanish approximants; late bilinguals
MDPI and ACS Style

Black, M.; Joanisse, M.F.; Rafat, Y. Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants by Late Bilinguals Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants by Late Bilinguals. Languages 2020, 5, 7.

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