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LCD720 – 03/25/08. Phonology and speech perception. Announcements. Midterm Looking ahead Next four weeks: Interfaces Last two weeks: Implementation May 20: Final paper due (and last class!) Final paper: Lesson plan + justification of the plan (paper) Start thinking about a topic now

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lcd720 03 25 08

LCD720 – 03/25/08

Phonology and speech perception

  • Midterm
  • Looking ahead
    • Next four weeks: Interfaces
    • Last two weeks: Implementation
    • May 20: Final paper due (and last class!)
  • Final paper:
    • Lesson plan + justification of the plan (paper)
    • Start thinking about a topic now
    • Guidelines and grading rubric are on Blackboard; please review soon
  • Homework assignments
    • Ungraded assignments for April 22 and 29
      • Don’t need to hand in
    • Graded homework assignment due on May 6 (available on April 29)
      • Hand in in class or on Blackboard
interfaces or how pronunciation is involved in other parts of language knowledge and skills
Interfaces, or How pronunciation is involved in other parts of language knowledge and skills
  • Listening: perception
  • Grammar
  • Orthography (spelling)


importance of perception in acquisition of phonology
Importance of perception in acquisition of phonology
  • Remember: Listening discrimination is an important first step in acquiring correct pronunciation (both segmental and suprasegmental features)
    • If students don’t hear the difference between sleep and slip, they can’t produce the difference either
    • Similar for word stress and sentence intonation
importance of phonology for listening perception
Importance of phonology for listening (perception)
  • Listening discrimination is also crucial for developing listening skills
    • Identifying phonemes, word stress and intonation correctly
      • Sleep vs. slip; thirty vs. thirteen; statement vs. question
    • Segmenting the speech stream correctly into words and phrases
how do native speakers listen
How do native speakers listen?
  • They attend to stress and intonation (strongly and weakly stressed syllables)
  • They attend to stressed vowels
  • They segment speech and find words that correspond to the stressed vowels and the consonants next to them
  • They look for phrases that are compatible with the stress/intonation patterns in (1) and words in (3)

These steps may proceed in parallel

Listeners also use prior knowledge (schemata)

Example: /greydey/

what is difficult for non native speakers
What is difficult for non-native speakers?
  • Each of the steps may pose problems:
    • Identifying phonemes, word stress, sentence intonation (step 1)
    • Finding words, esp. unfamiliar words (step 2 and 3)
    • Finding phrases and grammar (step 4)
    • Parallel processing
      • This requires automatized processing and sufficient working memory
      • Prior knowledge: e.g., cultural background knowledge
  • Result: mishearing or no comprehension
assessing students listening difficulties
Assessing students’ listening difficulties
  • Dictation may show some of the students’ difficulties:
    • Not hearing unstressed syllables
      • Including function words (articles, prepositions!) and grammatical morphemes
    • Mishearing unfamiliar words
      • Including unknown culturally-related words, like names of people and places
    • Incorrect segmentation
      • E.g., no in instead of knowing
    • Incorrect identification of phonemes
      • E.g., /l/ instead of /r/
what to focus on
What to focus on
  • Intonation units and prominence
  • Reduced speech
    • Function words
    • Assimilation
    • Contractions
    • Ambiguities
  • Segmentation
more examples of reduced function words
More examples of reduced function words
  • Remember:
    • him, his, her, them: first consonant is dropped
    • and, of: last consonant is dropped
    • can, to, as, or, in, on: reduced vowel ə
    • will => /l̩/ (syllabic l); and /n̩/ (syllabic n)
      • What (wi)ll you do?
      • Bread (a)n(d) butter
    • Combinations of these processes:
      • have => /əv/, /v/ or /ə/
      • of => /əv/ or /ə/
how did this happen
How did this happen?
  • What are the intermediate steps?
  • What processes (e.g., reduction, assimilation) are involved?
    • don’t know /downt now/ => /dənow/
    • might have /mayt hæv/ => /mayɾə/
    • should not have

/ʃʊd nɑt hæv/ => /ʃʊdn̩təv/ => /ʃʊdn̩ə/

more examples of assimilation
More examples of assimilation
  • (have) got to
  • have to
  • has to
  • want to
  • going to
  • don’t know
  • should have
  • might have
  • used to
  • shouldn’t have























more examples of assimilation1
More examples of assimilation
  • Students can memorize these chunks and practice identifying them in a spoken text
    • E.g., they listen to a text, identify the assimilated forms and write out the full forms
    • Additional focus on ambiguous assimilated forms
  • Emphasize that this is informal speech, and should not be written
more examples of contractions and blendings
More examples of contractionsand blendings

is, has: ’s had, would: ’d

have: ’ve are: ’re

will: ’ll not: n’t

  • Students should practice these contractions in chunks, like I’ll, he’d, they’re, who’s, where’re, how’s, etc.
  • Practice: identify the contractions and write out the full form
  • Focus on ambiguous contractions
ambiguities due to reduced speech
Ambiguities due to reduced speech
  • What is the full form of these words?
  • Use the reduced forms in a sentence
    • /ɪm/
    • /ɪz/
    • /əz/
    • /s/
    • /ə/
    • /ən/
    • /d/
    • /wɑtʃə/


is, his

is, as

is, has

of, have

and, in, on

had, would, did

what do you, what have you, what you

segmentation difficulties
Segmentation difficulties
  • Remember linking:
    • lef/t_arm, fin/d_out
    • Joa/n_Elson will sound like Joe_Nelson
    • gra/de_A will sound like gray day
  • There may be slight differences between the two members of the pair
    • Especially in connected speech, these differences may be difficult to hear
segmentation difficulties1
Segmentation difficulties
  • In other pairs, there are greater differences:
    • nitrate night rate
    • my turn might earn
    • key punching keep punching
  • Native speakers can hear these differences
    • ESL learners will need to practice them

What is the difference?

aspiration; release

aspiration; flapping

length of /p/

teaching listening skills perception
Teaching listening skills (perception)
  • Fill-in-the-blanks listening exercises
    • Open or multiple choice
  • Some basic rules:
    • Never have a gap in the first sentence
    • There should be enough time between the gaps to fill in the word
    • Use only familiar words; if possible, use a familiar text
    • Listen to the text twice before discussing the answers
    • Finish by listening to the text again


teaching listening skills perception1
Teaching listening skills (perception)


  • Listening & reading
    • Listen to the text twice, and check for comprehension
    • Listen again and read along
      • Repeat until all words, function words, and morphemes are heard
    • Listen again without reading,focusing on the missed or misheard words
    • How to keep the students attention? Ask new, simple questions each time they listen

Don’t forget

teaching listening skills perception2
Teaching listening skills (perception)
  • Transcribing (in regular spelling)
    • Listen to and transcribe a text containing the targeted forms (e.g., reduced forms, assimilation, contractions)
    • Indicate the reduced/assimilated/contracted forms and provide their full forms
    • Listen to the text again
What does this exercise focus on?
  • Why would this work?
  • How can this exercise be improved?

p. 232

What does this exercise focus on?
  • Why would this work?
  • How can this exercise be improved?

p. 233

next week
Next week
  • Read Chapter 8
  • Construct a fill-in-the-blanks exercise for teaching contractions/blendings
    • Bring to class, and be ready to discuss it
    • Bring two copies of the text (empty blanks)