Applying the Native Language Magnet Theory to an L2 setting: Insights into the Cypriot Greek adult perception of L2 English
Place of publicationChania, Greece
SourceProceedings of the International Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2019
International Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2019
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The Native Language Magnet (NLMKuhl, 1991) constitutes a model of early speech perception that could apply to second language acquisition. The model suggests that linguistic experience of a first language may interfere with the phonetic learning of an additional language (Flege, 1995Iverson et al., 2003Zhang et al., 2005). Applying this model to the Cypriot Greek (CGR) context implies that the language users will encounter several difficulties with the phonological system of second language English. For the purpose of this study, 130 students between the ages of 17-28 attending tertiary level education had to undertake two auditory perceptual tasks. The first task involved phoneme identification (in line with Baker, 2006) in which students had to listen to a minimal set consisting of five words differing in only one sound and select the word they could hear twice. The second task was a word identification task administered as a two-alternative forced-choice task with a circling response mode (in line with Kkese, 2016). Students listened to a target word and its foil and responded by circling the word they had heard. These kinds of tasks, focusing on both consonants and vowels, were used to eliminate any semantic information from the context. Overall, the results indicated that the participants performed slightly better when dealing with vowels compared to consonants. The most difficult consonants for perception appeared to be plosive and fricative consonants. In terms of vowels, the participants had problems with the perception of vowel length. Age, gender of the participants, second language English proficiency, years of second language instruction, and use are statistically significant factors for speech perception. The findings are in line with the Native Language Magnet model suggesting that speech perception of first and second language contrasts may be negatively correlated.