Language and Speech Laboratory

Effects of exposure to noise during perceptual training of non-native language sounds

Authors
Martin Cooke, Mª Luisa García Lecumberri.

Journal
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America      volume:143:2602-2610.

Year
2018
Abstract
Listeners manage to acquire the sounds of their native language in spite of experiencing a range of acoustic conditions during acquisition, including the presence of noise. Is the same true for nonnative sound acquisition? This study investigates whether the presence of masking noise during consonant training is a barrier to improvement, or, conversely, whether noise can be beneficial. Spanish learners identified English consonants with and without noise, before and after undergoing one of four extensive training regimes in which they were exposed to either consonants or vowels in the presence or absence of speech-shaped noise. The consonant-trained cohorts showed substantially larger gains than the vowel-trained groups, regardless of whether they were trained in noise or quiet. A small matched-condition benefit was evident, with noise-training resulting in larger improvements when testing in noise, and vice versa for training in quiet. No evidence for habituation to noise was observed: the cohort trained on vowels in noise showed no transference to consonants in noise. These findings demonstrate that noise exposure does not impede the acquisition of second language sounds.