Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Indexical information, encoding difficulty, and second language vocabulary learning

  • MITCHELL S. SOMMERS (a1) and JOE BARCROFT (a1)

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that second language (L2) vocabulary learning improves when target words are presented in acoustically varied compared with acoustically consistent formats. The present study investigated the extent to which this benefit of acoustic variability is a consequence of difficult encoding demands (cognitive effort hypothesis) versus increased representational quality. Experiment 1 compared L2 vocabulary learning for words produced in normal (easier encoding) or nasal (more difficult encoding) voice. Vocabulary learning was superior in the normal-voice condition, arguing against a simple cognitive effort hypothesis as the basis for improved L2 vocabulary learning with increased acoustic variability. Experiment 2 assessed the resistance of newly acquired L2 word forms to the effects of acoustic degradation. Participants heard six repetitions of each item in either a single-talker or multiple-talker condition. The robustness of the new word-form representations was assessed by measuring the accuracy and latency of L2 to first language (L1) translation as a function of the signal/noise ratio. At all four signal/noise ratios, accuracy and latency of L2 to L1 translation were significantly better for words learned in the multiple-talker as opposed to the single-talker condition. Of particular importance, the difference between single talkers and multiple talkers increased systematically as signal/noise ratio decreased. These findings suggest that the benefits of acoustic variability are a consequence of learners' ability to retain and use indexical information during the earliest stages of word learning and provide support for the representation quality hypothesis.

Copyright

Corresponding author

ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Mitchell S. Sommers, Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, 417A Psychology Building, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail: msommers@wustl.edu

References

Hide All
Barcroft, J. (2001). Acoustic variation and lexical acquisition. Language Learning, 51, 563590.
Barcroft, J., & Sommers, M. S. (2005). Effects of acoustic variability on second language vocabulary learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 3, 387414.
Goh, W. D. (2005). Talker variability and recognition memory: Instance-specific and voice-specific effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 4053.
Goldinger, S. D. (1990). Effects of talker variability on self-paced serial recall. research on speech perception (Progress Report No. 16, pp. 313326). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Goldinger, S. D. (1998). Echoes of echoes? An episodic theory of lexical access. Psychological Review, 105, 251279.
Goldinger, S. D., Pisoni, D. B., & Logan, J. S. (1991). On the nature of talker variability effects on recall of spoken word lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 17, 152162.
Lively, S. E., Logan, J. S., & Pisoni, D. B. (1993). Training Japanese listeners to identify English /r/ and /l/. II: The role of phonetic environment and talker variability in learning new perceptual categories. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 94, 5521–2421.
Macht, M. M., & Buschke, H. (1983). Age differences in cognitive effort in recall. Journal of Gerontology, 38, 695700.
Martin, C. S., Mullennix, J. W., Pisoni, D. B., & Summers, W. V. (1989). Effects of talker variability on recall of spoken word lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15, 4, 676684.
Mullennix, J. W., Pisoni, D. B., & Martin, C. S. (1989). Some effects of talker variability on spoken word recognition. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 85, 365378.
Nygaard, L. C., Sommers, M. S., & Pisoni, D. B. (1995). Effects of stimulus variability on perception and representation of spoken words in memory. Perception & Psychophysics, 57, 9891001.
Palmeri, T. J., Goldinger, S. D., & Pisoni, D. B. (1993). Episodic encoding of voice attributes and recognition memory for spoken words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19, 309328.
Pisoni, D. B. (1993). Long-term memory in speech perception: Some new findings on talker variability, speaking rate and perceptual learning. Speech Communication, 13, 109125.
Roediger, H. L., Gallo, D. A., and Geraci, L. (2002). Processing approaches to cognition: The impetus from the levels-of-processing framework. Memory, 10, 319322.
Rost, G. C., & McMurray, B. (2009). Speaker variability augments phonological processing in early word learning. Developmental Science, 12, 339349.
Singh, L. (2008). Influences of high and low variability on infant word recognition. Cognition, 106, 833870.
Sommers, M. S., & Barcroft, J. (2006). Stimulus variability and the phonetic relevance hypothesis: Effects of variability in speaking style, fundamental frequency, and speaking rate on spoken word identification. Journal of the American Acoustical Society 119, 24062416.
Sommers, M. S., & Barcroft, J. (2007). An integrated account of the effects of acoustic variability in first language and second language: Evidence from amplitude, fundamental frequency, and speaking rate variability. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 231249.
Sommers, M. S., Nygaard, L. C., & Pisoni, D. B. (1994). Stimulus variability and spoken word recognition. I. Effects of variability in speaking rate and overall amplitude. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 96, 13141324.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed