Roads and paths in adaptation to non-native speech and implications for second language acquisition
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Clarke and Garrett (2004) found that native English-speaking listeners adapted to nonnative accented speech in less than one minute. This study replicates Clarke and Garrett’s work, but extends it by asking if experience with the same accent will have a priming effect or facilitate in the adaptation of the non-native speech. This experiment included 84 self-reported native speakers of English who listened to novel and contextually ambiguous sentences spoken by native speakers of Korean in the following four conditions: one native speaker (NS condition), one native speaker followed by a non-native speaker (NS/NNS condition), one non-native speaker (NNS condition), and one non-native speaker followed by a second non-native speaker (NNS/NNS condition). The results of this experiment support Clarke and Garrett’s finding of rapid adaptation to accented speech, but these results suggest that the adaptation is to individual speakers, and that the situations are so brief that a priming effect does not occur. In other words, the listeners are not retaining features from the previous speaker to use in perceiving the unfamiliar accent of the second non-native speaker that they hear in these very brief instances; however, a look at data from six listeners who had extensive backgrounds with Korean reveal that the extensive experience with Korean is facilitating in the task, which suggests that phonological adaptation works both rapidly and with a longitudinal retention of exemplars for later use. The findings of this research have implications for theories of phonology, but more importantly for second language acquisition and its applications for the teaching of pronunciation in the language classroom.