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Eger, Nikola Anna and Reinisch, Eva (2019): The Impact of One's Own Voice and Production Skills on Word Recognition in a Second Language. In: Journal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and Cognition, Vol. 45, No. 3: pp. 552-571

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Second language (L2) learners often speak with a strong accent, which can make them difficult to understand. However, familiarity with an accent enhances intelligibility. We propose that L2 learners are even more familiar with their own accented speech patterns and may thus understand self-produced L2 words better than others' accented productions, presumably because of adaptation. This hypothesis was tested by asking German learners of English to identify English words from minimal pairs that are distinguished by difficult L2 sound contrasts. Words had been spoken by the learners themselves or other learners who produced the contrasts equally well. Self-produced words were identified significantly better than others' productions. A second experiment revealed that better producers can exploit acoustic cues in perception more than poor producers, especially when the produced acoustic cues to the minimal pairs were clearly differentiated. The self-benefit, however, did not depend on production skills. We conclude that L2 learners adapt not only to their L1 accent in general but also to their own specific speech patterns. Speculating about L2 acquisition more generally, these results may raise the question whether adaptation to own, accented productions may be one reason why learners have difficulties to improve their pronunciation, since they may not notice a need to improve.

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