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Speech processing and language acquisition

General details of the subject

Face-to-face degree course

Description and contextualization of the subject

Main concepts in speech processing; Classic phenomena; Models of speech perception; Language Acquisition; Infant research methods; Development of speech perception; Statistical learning of word boundaries; LA in adults: Second language acquisition

Teaching staff

NameInstitutionCategoryDoctorTeaching profileAreaE-mail
CAUDRELIER , TIPHAINEBCBL- Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and
KALASHNIKOVA , MARINABCBL- Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and
STOEHR , ANTJEBCBL- Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and


CE1. Advanced knowledge of speech perception and language aquisition25.0 %
CE2. Main research techniques of speech perception and language aquisition25.0 %
CE3. Evaluating research processes and products in speech perception and language aquisition25.0 %
CE4. Relating the course content to areas of intervention, problems and demands of social and cultural contexts.25.0 %

Study types

TypeFace-to-face hoursNon face-to-face hoursTotal hours
Applied classroom-based groups101020
Applied computer-based groups102535

Assessment systems

NameMinimum weightingMaximum weighting
Attendance at classes5.0 % 5.0 %
Oral examination15.0 % 15.0 %
Works and projects60.0 % 60.0 %
Written examination20.0 % 20.0 %


Part I

This course aims to provide an overview of the production and perception of speech in adults. The process of speech production will be described from the word or the sentence to produce to the articulation of speech, presenting both psycholinguistic and motor control models. The perception will focus on the reverse process, from the acoustic signal to word recognition. Both production and perception parts will include theoretical as well as empirical aspects.

Part II

The goal of this course is to understand the early stages of language acquisition by children and adults learning a second language. Sessions 1-4 will focus on the earliest stages of language development comprising the first two years of a child’s life. The focus will be on mechanisms underlying the acquisition of native language sounds and words, and the environmental factors that have an impact on the development of these mechanisms. Sessions 5-8 will be dedicated to speech sound production in adult second language learners. The first half of each class meeting will be a lecture in which theory will be covered. The second half will consist of a practical part, in which students produce their own speech recordings in their first and second language and learn to perform phonetic analysis using Praat software. [Note: This class is also suitable for students with very limited proficiency in a second language.]


Compulsory materials

No specific textbooks are required. Discussions will be based on seminal and recent research articles.

Basic bibliography

Fowler, C. A. (1996). Listeners do hear sounds, not tongues. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 99, 1730-1741.

Ganong, W.F. (1980). Phonetic categorization in auditory word perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 6, 110-125.

Hoff, E. (2004) Language Development (3ed) Wadsworth/Thomson Learning Press

Johnson, E. K., & Jusczyk, P. W. (2001). Word Segmentation by 8-Month-Olds: When Speech Cues Count More Than Statistics. Journal of Memory and Language, 44(4), 548-567. doi:10.1006/jmla.2000.2755

Kuhl, P. K. (2004). Early language acquisition: cracking the speech code. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 5(11), 831-843. doi:10.1038/nrn1533

Kuhl, P. K., Williams, K., Lacerda, F., Stevens, K., & Lindblom, B. (1992). Linguistic experience alters phonetic perception in infants by 6 months of age. Science, 255(5044), 606-608. doi:10.1126/science.1736364

Ladefoged (2001) Vowels and Consonants

Liberman, A.M., Harris, K. S., Hoffman, H.S. & Griffith, B. C. (1957). The discrimination of speech sounds within and across phoneme boundaries. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 54, 358-368.

Liberman, A. M. (1996). Introduction: Some assumptions about speech and how they changed. In A. M. Liberman (Ed.), Speech: A special code. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Liberman,, A. M., Cooper, F.. S., Shankweiler, D. P., and Studdert-Kennedy, M. (1967). Perception of the speech code. Psychological Review, 74, 431-461.

Liberman, A. M. and Whalen, D. H. (2000). On the relation of speech to language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 187-196.

Rosenblum, L. D., Schmuckler, M. A., and Johnson, J. A. (1997). The McGurk effect in infants. Perception & Psychophysics, 59, 347-357.

Samuel, A.G. (in press). Speech perception. Annual Review of Psychology 62, 16.1-16.24.

Stager, C. L., & Werker, J. F. (1997). Infants listen for more phonetic detail in speech perception than in word-learning tasks. Nature, 388(6640), 381-382. doi:10.1038/41102

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