Lezen en luisteren in moedertaal en vreemde taal
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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This article is a plea for more research into the interaction between linguistic expectancy and acoustic information. Even if under normal circumstances priority should be given to the acoustic signal, it is evident that linguistic expectancy is a prerequisite for understanding speech. Second language students in the Netherlands generally have a good command of the phonotactic properties of English. In developing the students' listening proficiency teachers therefore experience the law of diminishing returns if they keep focusing on phonetic and phonological properties of the foreign language. However, the students' linguistic familiarity with English may still give rise to interpretative problems. Notably collocations, false friends (faux amis), homonymy and polysemy are categories of words prone to misunderstanding. In research on listening proficiency more attention should be paid to how linguistic expectancy interacts with acoustic information in the perception of these categories of words in particular.It is demonstrated that slight uncertainty with respect to acoustic information may have disproportionate repercussions on understanding speech. A slight decrease in redundancy may make the difference between understanding everything or nothing, as the hearing-impaired are well aware. In this respect minor hearing losses - not uncommon nowadays at early ages due to overexposure to noise and loud music - may have serious effects on information processing. If reduction of redundancy results from hearing loss, there is little teachers can do to help their students improve their listening proficiency. Teachers should be aware that the inherent differences in sound perception of their students may go unnoticed in the mothertongue, but will inevitably surface in the second language, where linguistic expectancy is by definition less well developed. It would therefore seem unwise to relate listening proficiency in the native language as a test-measure to listening in the foreign language, as has been suggested by some researchers in the past.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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