Training Japanese listeners to perceive American English vowels: Influence of training sets

Kanae Nishi, Diane Kewley-Port

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Purpose: Studies on speech perception training have shown that adult 2nd language learners can learn to perceive non-native consonant contrasts through laboratory training. However, research on perception training for non-native vowels is still scarce, and none of the previous vowel studies trained more than 5 vowels. In the present study, the influence of training set sizes was investigated by training native Japanese listeners to identify American English (AE) vowels. Method: Twelve Japanese learners of English were trained 9 days either on 9 AE monophthongs (fullset training group) or on the 3 more difficult vowels (subset training group). Five listeners served as controls and received no training. Performance of listeners was assessed before and after training as well as 3 months after training was completed. Results: Results indicated that (a) fullset training using 9 vowels in the stimulus set improved average identification by 25%; (b) listeners in both training groups generalized improvement to untrained words and tokens spoken by novel speakers; and (c) both groups maintained improvement after 3 months. However, the subset group never improved on untrained vowels. Conclusions: Training protocols for learning non-native vowels should present a full set of vowels and should not focus only on the more difficult vowels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1496-1509
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007


  • Bilingualism
  • English language learners
  • Japanese
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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