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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 16, 2016

Acquiring non-native speech through early media exposure: Belgian children’s productions of english vowels

  • Ellen Simon EMAIL logo , Ronaldo Lima and Ludovic De Cuypere


This study aims to map native Dutch and non-native English vowels of Belgian children who have not been immersed and have not received instruction in English, but who are exposed to it through the media. It investigates to what extent this type of exposure is sufficient to develop new phonetic vowel categories. Twenty-four children aged 9–12 years performed production tasks focusing on Dutch and English monophthongs. Vowel formants were normalized and statistically analysed, and results highlight the English contrasts /ɛ–æ/, /ʊ–u/ and /ɒ–ɔ/, which are lacking in Dutch. The children produced contrasting /ɛ/ and /æ/ in F1 and F2 in a repetition task, and English /ɛ/ and /æ/ were considerably different from the closest Dutch vowel /ɛ/ in terms of anteriority. The children’s /ʊ–u/ and /ɒ–ɔ/ differed in F1 and F2. The closest Dutch vowel /u/ did not differ from English /u/, and differed from /ʊ/ only in F1. Dutch /ɔ/ differed from /ɒ/ in F1 and F2 and differed from English /ɔ/ in F1. The results suggest that media-induced Second Language Acquisition should not be underestimated, for even in contexts of L2 acquisition exclusively through media exposure, children learn to produce contrasts between L2 vowels which do not exist in their L1.

Linguistics Department, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium


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Published Online: 2016-11-16
Published in Print: 2016-11-1

© Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

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