The Interaction of Language Proficiency and Talker Variability in Learning
AuthorDavis, Andrea Katharine
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPrevious studies have shown that multiple talkers help learners make more robust word representations when the learner is not very experienced with the language (Richtsmeier et al., 2009; Rost & McMurray, 2009, 2010). This is likely because exposure to variation allows the learner to observe which acoustic dimensions vary unpredictably across talkers, and which acoustic dimensions vary predictably. However, this predicts that only learners who are less experienced with a language will benefit from multiple talkers, as more experienced learners should be able to use their previous knowledge about the language's speech sounds. Three word-learning experiments, with participants who were expected to have different levels of experience in the language, were performed to test this prediction. In the first experiment, English-acquiring children did benefit from multiple talker in the production but not perception of newly learned words. In the second experiment, native English-speaking adults did not benefit from learning from multiple talkers in either the perception or production of new words. Finally, second language-learning adults benefited from multiple talkers if they were less proficient speakers, but not if they were more proficient. Collectively, these results suggest that learning from multiple talkers is only beneficial for less experienced language learners.
Degree ProgramGraduate College