Age and native language influence on the perception of English vowels

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This paper examines, within the framework of Flege’s speech learning model (SLM), the relevance of two factors – age and native language – for the acquisition align of vowel perception abilities by young Spanish learners of English in a formal instructional environment. Findings indicate that age did influence the participants’ ability to identify English vowels, but not in the expected direction and only for those vowels considered to be identical. Thus, the results do not provide evidence of the influence of the critical period for classroom learning, but they do support the SLM’s proposal concerning the influence of type of interlingual identification: that new and identical vowels will be easier than similar vowels.


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