LOT Winter School 2019

Speech perception in first and second language acquisition

Sharon Peperkamp


Title of the course: Speech perception in first and second language acquisition

Teacher: Sharon Peperkamp

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Course information

Course description

Our speech perception system is optimized for processing all aspects of the sound structure of our native language: segments and suprasegments, phonemic vs. allophonic contrasts, syllable structure, phonotactics, and alternations. Drawing on experimental research with infants and adults, this course addresses two issues concerning language-specific speech perception: How does it develop during first language acquisition? And to what extent can it be retuned during second language acquisition? Special attention will be paid to statistical learning mechanisms and to linguistic and cognitive biases that are at play. We will end by examining consequences for phonological theory.

Day-to-day program

Monday: From universal to language-specific speech sound perception during the first year of life

Tuesday: Non-native and L2 speech sound perception in adults

Wednesday: Adults’ processing of phonological grammar in L1 and L2, Infants’ acquisition of phonological grammar

Thursday: Linguistic biases in phonological learning: evidence from artificial language learning paradigms

Friday: Consequences for phonological theory

Reading list:


Maye, J., Weiss, D. J., & Aslin, R. N. (2008). Statistical phonetic learning in infants: Facilitation and feature generalization. Developmental Science, 11, 122–134.

Cristia (2011) Fine-grained variation in caregivers’ [s] predicts their infants’ [s] category. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 129, 3271–3280.


Díaz, B., H. Mitterer, M. Broersma & N. Sebastián-Gallés (2012). Individual differences in late bilinguals' L2 phonological processes. Learning and Individual Differences, 22, 680-689.

Lim & Holt (2011) Learning foreign sounds in an alien world. Videogame training improves non-native speech categorization. Cognitive Science, 35, 1390–1405.


Ylinen, Huuskonen, Mikkola, Saure, Sinkkonen & Paavilainen (2016) Predictive coding of phonological rules in auditory cortex. Brain & Language, 162, 72–80.

Skoruppa, K., N. Mani & S. Peperkamp (2013). Toddlers’ processing of phonological alternations: Early compensation for assimilation in English and French. Child Development, 84, 313-330.


White, J. & Sundara, M. (2014). Biased generalization of newly learned phonological alternations by 12-month-old infants. Cognition, 133, 85–90.

Cristia, A., J. Mielke, R. Daland & S. Peperkamp (2013). Similarity in the generalization of implicitly learned sound patterns. Laboratory Phonology, 4, 259-285.


Peperkamp, S., Vendelin, I. & Nakamura, K. (2008). On the perceptual origin of loanword adaptations: experimental evidence from Japanese. Phonology, 25, 129-164.

Stevenson & Zamuner (2017) Gradient phonological relationships. Evidence from vowels in French. Glossa 2, 58, 1–22.