How Accent Of The Teacher Affects Adults’ Ability To Process Language
AuthorArmstrong, Shashi Katakkar
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractIt has been observed that the way adults and infants learn languages is vastly different; however, there is much that we still do not understand about these differences. Infant brains have higher plasticity than adult brains. Adults have a large lexicon that they rely on when listening to speech, whereas infants initially have no lexicon; thus, some language rules are easier for infants to learn, while others are easier for adults. This study asked if adults' reliance on their lexicon is one factor that makes some rules more difficult to learn and if adults can learn a phonological disjunction rule that infants have been shown to learn more easily, and if accent of the teacher will affect their ability to learn. Subjects were asked to listen to a pre-recorded lesson on an alien language, read by a native Urdu speaker, before being asked to rate on a continuous scale how well new words conformed to the previously heard pattern. The results suggest that hearing words spoken by someone with a sufficiently foreign accent may allow adults to bypass their mental lexicons and learn Type II generalizations better than if their teacher has a more “familiar” American English accent.