InterSpeech 2021

Effects of voice type and task on L2 learners’ awareness of pronunciation errors
(3 minutes introduction)

Alif Silpachai (Iowa State University, USA), Ivana Rehman (Iowa State University, USA), Taylor Anne Barriuso (Iowa State University, USA), John Levis (Iowa State University, USA), Evgeny Chukharev-Hudilainen (Iowa State University, USA), Guanlong Zhao (Texas A&M University, USA), Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna (Texas A&M University, USA)
Research suggests learners may improve their second language (L2) pronunciation by imitating voices with similar acoustic profiles. However, previously reported improvements have been in suprasegmentals (prosodic features such as intonation). It remains unclear if voice similarity applies to L2 segmentals (consonants and vowels). To address this issue, this study investigates how voice similarity facilitates awareness of pronunciation errors, a necessary step in pronunciation improvement. In two experiments, advanced L2 learners identified their pronunciation errors by comparing their production to the production of a resynthesized model voice using learners’ voices as the base (Golden Speaker voice), or to an unfamiliar resynthesized voice with the same gender as the learner (Silver Speaker voice). In Experiment 1, L2 learners identified all syllables with vowel and consonant errors when comparing their production to the model voice. Their choices were compared to identifications by expert judges. In Experiment 2, learners were told how many errors the expert judges had identified before identifying the same number of errors. Results did not support facilitative effects of Golden Speaker voices in either experiment, but Experiment 2 resulted in higher identification percentages. Discussion of the challenges in self-identification of errors in relation to voice similarity are offered.