C. Ray Graham, Arien W Hamblin, Stanley Feldstein
February 20, 2008
This paper examines the ability of native and non-native speakers of English to hear English speakers' voices and interpret the emotions being portrayed. In the study native speakers of Japanese, Spanish and English listened to audio tapes in which professional actors portrayed emotions and they identified the portrayed emotions by selecting from among eight possibilities. Results suggest major differences between native and non-native listeners in their ability to identify emotions expressed in voice. Also an analysis of judgements made by ESL learners at different proficiency levels did not show an increase in ability to judge the emotional content of English speech with increased language proficiency. This suggests that the ability to accurately judge emotions being portrayed through vocal cues in a second language may not be acquired by L2 learners without extensive exposure in a native context or without special attention to developing these skills in an instructional context.