XSL Content

The Acquisition of Phonetics

General details of the subject

Face-to-face degree course

Description and contextualization of the subject

This is an introductory course on the L2/FL acquisition of the phonetic component of languages, a linguistic level which has proved to be amongst the most difficult to acquire as a FL/L2.

The course analyses the different factors that intervene in the aquisition process and reviews the main theoretical models applied to its study. It also includes an introduction to experimental methods in phonetic research, which shows the intrinsic interdisciplinarity of the subject.

Teaching staff

NameInstitutionCategoryDoctorTeaching profileAreaE-mail
GARCIA MAYO, MARIA DEL PILARUniversity of the Basque CountryProfesorado Catedratico De UniversidadDoctorNot bilingualEnglish
CORTES POMACONDOR, SUSANAUniversidad de les Illes BalearsOtrosDoctor

Study types

TypeFace-to-face hoursNon face-to-face hoursTotal hours
Applied laboratory-based groups10010
Applied computer-based groups42529

Ordinary call: orientations and renunciation

Students attainment of learning aims will be evaluated through class participation (10%), practical acoustic analysis work (30%) critical analysis of a relevant journal paper (30%), class presentation (20%) and debate (10%) will all be taken into account.

Extraordinary call: orientations and renunciation

Students attainment of learning aims will be evaluated through class participation (10%), practical acoustic analysis work (30%) critical analysis of a relevant journal paper (30%), class presentation (20%) and debate (10%) will all be taken into account.


1. Introduction

2. L2/FL Acquisition

2. 1. Types

2. 2. Possibilities

3. Factors in FL acquisition

3. 1. L1

3. 2. Age

3. 3. Exposure

3. 4. Others

4. Speech perception

4. 1. Nature of speech perception

4. 2. Perception in L1 acquisition

4. 3. Relation between perception and production

5. FL perception models

5.1. Speech Learning Model

5.2. Perceptual Assimilation Model

5.3. Native Language Magnet

5.4. Ontogeny and Philogeny Model

6. Methodological issues for research

6. 1. Design

6. 2. Data gathering

7. Lab sessions & Practical Phonetics

7. 1. Articulatory/acoustic phonetics

7. 2. Auditory phonetics

7. 3. Data acquisition

7. 4. Data analysis

7. 5. Speech perception


- Theoretical Part: Critical analysis and presentation of a research paper

- Practical Phonetics: Design, collection and analysis of small corpus


Compulsory materials

Course bibliography, course handouts and acoustic analysis programmes.

Basic bibliography

Aoyama, K., Guion, S., Flege, J.E., Yamada, T. & Akahane-Yamada, R. (2008). The first years in an L2 speaking environment: A comparison of Japanese children and adults learning American English. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 46, 61-90.

Baker, W & Trofimovich (2005) Interaction of native and second language voewle systems in early and late bilinguals. Language & Speech, 48, 1-27.

Bent, T., & Bradlow, A. R. (2003). The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. J Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114, 1600-1610.

Best, C. & Tyler, M. (2007). Nonnative and second-language speech. Commonalities and complementarities (Bohn,O-S, Munro, M, Eds.). Language Experience in Second Language Speech Learning. In honor of James Emil Flege (pp. 13-14). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Best, C. T. (1995). A direct realist view of cross-language speech perception. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Theoretical and Methodological Issues in Cross-Language Speech Research, 171–203. Timonium, MD: York Press.

Cutler, A., Smits, R. & Cooper, N. (2005). Vowel perception: Effects of non-native language vs. non-native dialect. Speech Communication, 47 (2005) 32-42.

Flege, J. E. (1995). Second-language speech learning: theory, findings and problems. In W. Strange (ed.), Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience. Issues in Cross- Language Research (pp. 233-277). Timonium, MD: York Press.

García Lecumberri, M. L., Cooke, M. & Cutler, A. (2010). Non-native speech perception in adverse conditions: a review. Speech Communication, 52 (11-12), 864-886.

García Lecumberri, M.L. & Cooke, M. (2006). Effect of masker type on native and non-native consonant perception in noise. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119, 4, 2445-2454.

Imai, S., Walley, A. & Flege, J. (2004). Lexical frequency and neighborhood density effects on the recognition of native and Spanish-accented words by native English & Spanish listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 117, 896-907.

Iverson, P. & Evans, B. (2009) Learning English vowels with different first-language vowel systems II: Auditory training for native Spanish and German speakers. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 126, 866-877.

Kuhl, P. K. (1993). Early linguistic experience and phonetic perception: implications for theories of developmental speech production. Journal of Phonetics, 21, 125-139.

Kuhl, P. K. (2000). A new view of language acquisition. Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences. USA 97, 11850–11857.

Leather, J. (2003). Phonological acquisition in multilingualism. In M.P. García Mayo & M.L. García Lecumberri (Eds.) Age and the Acquisition of English as a Foreign Language. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2003, 23-58.

Munro, M. J. & Derwing, T. M. (2001) Segmental Acquisition in Adult ESL Learners: A Longitudinal Study of Vowel Production. Language Learning, 58, 479-502.

Munro, M. J. & Derwing, T. M. (2006) The functional load principle in ESL pronunciation instruction: An exploratory study, System 34 (2006) 520–531.

Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (1999). Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Article reprinted in Language Learning 49, Supplement 1, 285-310. [Originally published as Munro, M., & Derwing, T. (1995). Language Learning 45, 73-97.]

Piske, T., MacKay, I., & Flege, J. (2001). Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 191-215.

Smiljanic, R. & Bradlow, A. R. (2008). Stability of temporal contrasts across clear and conversational speech. Journal of Phonetics, 36, 91-113.


Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Speech Communication

Studies in Second Language Acquisition Language Learning

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Speak Out: Newsletter of the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group

Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Language and Speech

Journal of Phonetics

Language Learning

International Journal of Applied Linguistics


Proceedings of Interspeech

Bilingualism: Language and Cognition


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