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The Acquisition of English Vowels by Javanese and Sundanese Native Speakers

On February 19th, Arum Perwitasari succesfully defended her doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Arum on this great result.

Arum Perwitasari
19 February 2019
Leiden University Repository


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 perception experiments were carried out to investigate both the L1 vowel systems- and the pattern of L2 acquisition problems. The results showed that English vowel perception and production is difficult for Javanese and Sundanese learners of English. 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.

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