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PhD defence

The Acquisition of English Vowels by Javanese and Sundanese Native Speakers

Tuesday 19 February 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. N.O. Schiller
  • Prof. M. Klamer


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

PhD research

Second language (L2) learners often face difficulties while learning L2 sounds. Evidence suggests that difficulties in learning L2 sounds are affected by the first language (L1). Given the prominent status of English as a foreign language in the multilingual context of Indonesia, it is important to investigate whether Javanese and Sundanese learners of English show systematic problems in learning English. The results could not only serve as a test of L2 speech learning models, but also improve English education in Indonesia. Therefore, speech production and mouse-tracking experiments were carried out to investigate both the L1 vowel systems- and the pattern of L2 acquisition problems among Javanese and Sundanese learners of English.

This research highlights an overview of the native vowels of Javanese and Sundanese as well as the perception and production of English vowels by these speakers. The general conclusion is that English vowel perception and production is difficult for Javanese and Sundanese learners of English. The results of the present thesis showed that the L2 speakers do not accurately perceive the new L2 vowels /ɑː, ʌ, æː, ε, ɪ, ʊ/ and the similar L2 vowels /iː, uː/. They also have difficulty contrasting intended vowels using spectral parameters. In terms of pronouncing English vowels, the L2 learners are likely to shorten both long and short English vowels. This research recommends that teachers of English design vowel identification tasks to improve their sound perception of the English vowels. The phonetic training should also focus on lengthening short and long English vowels.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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