Skip to main content
×
Home

Perceived foreign accent in first language attrition and second language acquisition: The impact of age of acquisition and bilingualism

  • HOLGER HOPP (a1) and MONIKA S. SCHMID (a2)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

This study investigates constraints on ultimate attainment in second language (L2) pronunciation in a direct comparison of perceived foreign accent of 40 late L2 learners and 40 late first language (L1) attriters of German. Both groups were compared with 20 predominantly monolingual controls. Contrasting participants who acquired the target language from birth (monolinguals, L1 attriters) with late L2 learners, on the one hand, and bilinguals (L1 attriters, L2ers) with monolinguals, on the other hand, allowed us to disentangle the impacts of age of onset and bilingualism in speech production. At the group level, the attriters performed indistinguishably from controls, and both differed from the L2 group. However, 80% of all L2ers scored within the native (attriter) range. Correlational analyses with background factors further found some effects of use and language aptitude. These results show that acquiring a language from birth is not sufficient to guarantee nativelike pronunciation, and late acquisition does not necessarily prevent it. The results are discussed in the light of models on the role of age and cross-linguistic influence in L2 acquisition.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Perceived foreign accent in first language attrition and second language acquisition: The impact of age of acquisition and bilingualism
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Perceived foreign accent in first language attrition and second language acquisition: The impact of age of acquisition and bilingualism
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Perceived foreign accent in first language attrition and second language acquisition: The impact of age of acquisition and bilingualism
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Holger Hopp, Universität Mannheim, Anglistische Linguistik, Schloss EW 266, Mannheim 68131, Germany. E-mail: hhopp@rumms.uni-mannheim.de
References
Hide All
Abrahamsson N., & Hyltenstam K. (2008). The robustness of aptitude effects in near-native second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 481509.
Abrahamsson N., & Hyltenstam K. (2009). Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, 59, 249306.
Anderson-Hsieh J., Johnson R., & Koehler K. (1992). The relationship between native speaker judgments of nonnative pronunciation and deviance in segmentals, prosody, and syllable structure. Language Learning, 42, 529555.
Asher J. J., & García R. (1969). The optimal age to learn a foreign language. Modern Language Journal, 53, 334341.
Au T. K., Knightly L. M., Jun S. A., & Oh J. S. (2002). Overhearing a language during childhood. Psychological Science, 13, 238243.
Bialystok E. (1997). The structure of age: In search of barriers to second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 13, 116137.
Bialystok E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, & cognition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bialystok E. (2009). Bilingualism: The good, the bad, and the indifferent. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 311.
Birdsong D. (1999). Introduction: Whys and why nots of the critical period hypothesis for second language acquisition. In Birdsong D. (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Birdsong D. (2005). Interpreting age effects in second language acquisition. In Kroll J. F. & de Groot A. M. B. (Eds.), Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bongaerts T. (1999). Ultimate attainment in L2 pronunciation: The case of very advanced L2 learners. In Birdsong D. (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bongaerts T., van Summeren C., Planken B., & Schils E. (1997). Age and ultimate attainment in the pronunciation of a foreign language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 447465.
Bot K. de, & Clyne M. (1994). A 16 year longitudinal study of language attrition in Dutch immigrants in Australia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 15, 1728.
Brennan E. M., & Brennan J. S. (1981). Accent scaling and language attitudes: Reactions to Mexican American English speech. Language and Speech, 24, 207221.
Bylund E., Abrahamsson N., & Hyltenstam K. (2010). The role of language aptitude in first language attrition: The case of pre-pubescent attriters. Applied Linguistics, 3, 433464.
Caramazza A., Yeni-Komshian G., Zurif E., & Carbone E. (1973). The acquisition of a new phonological contrast: The case of stop consonants in French–English bilinguals. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America, 4, 421428.
Carroll J. B. (1981). Twenty-five years of research on foreign language aptitude. In Diller K. C. (Ed.), Individual differences and universals in language learning aptitude. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Cook V. (2003). The changing L1 in the L2 user's mind. In Cook V. (Ed.), Effects of the second language on the first. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Cutler A., Mehler J., Norris D., & Segui J. (1989). Limits on bilingualism. Nature, 340, 229230.
DeKeyser R. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22, 499533.
DeKeyser R., & Larson-Hall J. (2005). What does the critical period really mean? In Kroll J. F. & de Groot A. M. B. (Eds.), Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches. New York: Oxford University Press.
de Leeuw E. (2008). When your native language sounds foreign: A phonetic investigation into first language attrition. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
de Leeuw E., Schmid M. S., & Mennen I. (2010). The effects of contact on native language pronunciation in a migrant context. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13, 3340.
Dörnyei Z., & Skehan P. (2003). Individual differences in second language learning. In Doughty C. J. & Long M. H. (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Dussias P. E. (2004). Parsing a first language like a second: The erosion of L1 parsing strategies in Spanish–English bilinguals. International Journal of Bilingualism, 8, 355371.
El Aissati A. (1997). Language loss among native speakers of Morroccan Arabic in The Netherlands. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.
Elliott A. R. (1995). Field independence/dependence, hemispheric specialization, and attitude in relation to pronunciation accuracy in Spanish as a foreign language. Modern Language Journal, 79, 356371.
Flege J. E. (1984). The detection of French accent by American listeners. Journal of Acoustical Society of America, 76, 692707.
Flege J. E. (1987). The production of “new” and “similar” phones in a foreign language: Evidence for the effect of equivalence classification. Journal of Phonetics, 15, 4765.
Flege J. E. (1999). Age of learning and second-language speech. In Birdsong D. (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.
Flege J. E. (2002). Interactions between the native and second-language phonetic systems. In Burmeister P., Piske T., & Rohde A. (Eds.), An integrated view of language development: Papers in honor of Henning Wode. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.
Flege J. E. (2009). Give input a chance! In Piske T. & Young-Scholten M. (Eds.), Input matters in SLA. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Flege J. E., & Hillenbrand J. (1984). Limits on phonetic accuracy in foreign language speech production. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America, 76, 708721.
Flege J. E., Birdsong D., Bialystok E., Mack M., Sung H., & Tsukada K. (2006). Degree of foreign accent in English sentences produced by Korean children and adults. Journal of Phonetics, 34, 153175.
Flege J. E., Bohn O.-S., & Jang S. (1997). Effects of experience on non-native speakers—Production and perception of English vowels. Journal of Phonetics, 25, 437470.
Flege J. E., & Fletcher K. L. (1992). Talker and listener effects on degree of perceived foreign accent. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 9, 370389.
Flege J. E., & Liu S. (2001). The effect of experience on adults' acquisition of a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 527552.
Flege J. E., Munro M. J., & MacKay I. R. A. (1995). Factors affecting strength of perceived foreign accent in a second language. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 31253134.
Flege J. E., Yeni-Komshian G. H., & Liu S. (1999). Age constraints on second-language acquisition. Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 78104.
Foursha C. D., Austin J. B., & Van de Walle G. (2005). Is language processing identical in monolinguals and early, balanced bilinguals? Paper presented at the Boston University Conference on Language Development. Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/linguistics/BUCLD/
Fowler C. A., Sramko V., Ostry D. J., Rowland S. A., & Hallé P. (2008). Cross language phonetic influences on the speech of French–English bilinguals. Journal of Phonetics, 36, 649663.
Giesbers H. (1997). Dutch in Indonesia: Language attrition or language contact. In Klatter-Folmer J. & Kroon S. (Eds.), Dutch overseas: Studies in maintenance and loss of Dutch as an immigrant language. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.
Grosjean F. (1998). Studying bilinguals: Methodological and conceptual issues. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1, 131149.
Grosjean F. (2001). The bilingual's language modes. In Nicol J. (Ed.), One mind, two languages: Bilingual language processing. Oxford: Blackwell.
Harley B., & Hart D. (1997). Language aptitude and second language proficiency in classroom learners of different starting ages. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1, 379400.
Hernandez A. E., Bates E. A., & Avila L. X. (1994). On-line sentence interpretation in Spanish–English bilinguals: What does it mean to be “in-between”? Applied Psycholinguistics, 15, 417446.
Hirvonen P. A. (1995). Phonological and morphological aspects of Finnish language attrition in the United States. In Viereck W. (Ed.), Soziolinguistische Variation. Stuttgart: Steiner.
Hopp H. (2007). Ultimate attainment at the interfaces in second language acquisition: Grammar and processing. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Groningen.
Hopp H. (2010) Ultimate attainment in L2 inflectional morphology: Performance similarities between non-native and native speakers. Lingua, 120, 901931.
Hyltenstam K., & Abrahamsson N. (2003). Who can become native-like in a second language? All, some or none? On the maturational constraint controversy in second language acquisition. Studia Linguistica, 54, 150166.
Hyltenstam K., Bylund E., Abrahamsson N., & Park H.-S. (2009). Dominant language replacement; The case of international adoptees. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 121140.
Jesney K. (2004). The use of global foreign accent rating in studies of L2 acquisition. Unpublished master's dissertation, University of Calgary, Language Research Centre.
Jia G., Aaronson D., & Wu Y. (2002). Long-term language attainment of bilingual immigrants: Predictive variables and language groups differences. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 599621.
Köpke B., & Schmid M. S. (2004). First language attrition: The next phase. In Schmid M. S., Köpke B., Keijzer M., M. & Weilemar L. (Eds.), First language attrition: Interdisciplinary perspectives on methodological issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Krashen S. D., Long M. A., & Scarcella R. C. (1979). Age, rate and eventual attainment in second language acquisition. TESOL Quarterly, 13, 573582.
Long M. H. (1993). Second language acquisition as a function of age: Research findings and methodological issues. In Hyltenstam K. & Viberg A. (Eds.), Progression and regression in language. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Long M. H. (1990). Maturational constraints on language development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12, 251285.
MacKay I. R. A., Flege J. E., & Imai S. (2006). Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 157183.
Major R. C. (1992). Losing English as a first language. Modern Language Journal, 76, 190208.
Mayr R., Price S., & Mennen I. (2011). L1 attrition in the speech of Dutch–English bilinguals: The case of monozygotic twin sisters. Paper presented at the 8th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Oslo, June 14–18, 2011.
McDermott W. L. C. (1986). The scalability of degrees of foreign accent. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
McDonald J. L. (2000). Grammaticality judgments in a second language: Influences of age of acquisition and native language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 21, 395423.
Mennen I. (2004). Bi-directional interference in the intonation of Dutch speakers of Greek. Journal of Phonetics, 32, 543563.
Montrul S. A. (2008). Incomplete acquisition in bilingualism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Moyer A. (1999). Ultimate attainment in L2 phonology: The critical factors of age, motivation, and instruction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 81108.
Moyer A. (2007). Empirical considerations on the age factor in L2 phonology. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 15, 109129.
Munro M. J., & Derwing T. M. (1995). Processing time, accent, and comprehensibility in the perception of native and foreign-accented speech. Language and Speech, 38, 289306.
Oyama S. (1976). A sensitive period for the acquisition of a nonnative phonological system. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 5, 261283.
Pallier C., Dehaene S., Poline J.-B., LeBihan D., Argenti A.-M., Dupoux E., et al. (2003). Brain imaging of language plasticity in adopted adults: Can a second language replace the first? Cerebral Cortex, 13, 155161.
Perdue C. (1993). Adult language acquisition: Cross-linguistic perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Piske T., MacKay I. R. A., & Flege J. E. (2001). Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 191215.
Proverbio A. M., Cok B., & Zani A. (2002). Electrophysiological measures of language processing in bilinguals. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14, 9941017.
Robinson P. (2005). Aptitude and second language acquisition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, 235268.
Sancier M. L., & Fowler C. A. (1997). Gestural drift in a bilingual speaker of Brazilian Portuguese and English. Journal of Phonetics, 25, 421436.
Schmid M. S. (2002). First language attrition, use and maintenance: The case of German jews in Anglophone countries. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Schmid M. S. (2007). The role of L1 use for L1 attrition. In Köpke B., Schmid M. S., Keijzer M. & Dostert S. (Eds.), Language attrition. Theoretical perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Schmid M. S. (2009). On L1 attrition and the linguistic system. EUROSLA Yearbook, 9, 212244.
Schmid M. S. (2010). Languages at play: The relevance of L1 attrition to the study of bilingualism. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 13, 17.
Schmid M. S. (2011). Language attrition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Schmid M. S., & Köpke B. (2007). Bilingualism and attrition. In Köpke B., Schmid M. S., Keijzer M., & Dostert S. (Eds.), Language attrition: Theoretical perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Schmid M. S., & Köpke B. (2008). L1 attrition and the mental lexicon. In Pavlenko Aneta (Ed.), The bilingual mental lexicon. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Schmid M. S., & Dusseldorp E. (2010). Quantitative analyses in a multivariate study of language attrition. Second Language Research, 26, 125160.
Schmitt E. 2004: No more reductions!—To the problem of evaluation of language attrition data. In Schmid M. S., Köpke B., Keijzer M., & Weilemar L. (Eds.), First language attrition: Interdisciplinary perspectives on methodological issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Schumann J. H. (1998). The neurobiology of affect in language. Language Learning, 48 (Suppl. 1).
Schwartz B. D., & Sprouse R. A. (1996). L2 cognitive states and the full transfer/full access model. Second Language Research, 12, 4072.
Scovel T. (1988). A time to speak: A psycholinguistic inquiry into the critical period for human speech. Cambridge, MA: Newbury House.
Selinker L. (1972). Interlanguage. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 10, 209232.
Sundaraa M., Polkaa L., & Genesee F. (2006). Language-experience facilitates discrimination of /d-D/ in monolingual and bilingual acquisition of English. Cognition, 100, 369388.
Thompson I. (1991). Foreign accents revisited: The English pronunciation of Russian immigrants. Language Learning, 41, 177204.
Tsimpli I., Sorace A., Heycock C., & Filiaci F. (2004). First language attrition and syntactic subjects: A study of Greek and Italian near-native speakers of English. International Journal of Bilingualism, 8, 257277.
Vago R. M. (1991). Paradigmatic regularity in first language attrition. In Seliger H. W. & Vago R. M. (Eds.), First language attrition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Van Hell J., & Dijkstra T. (2002). Foreign language knowledge can influence native language performance in exclusively native contexts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 780789.
Ventureyra V., Pallier C., & Yoo H.-Y. (2004). The loss of first language phonetic perception in adopted Koreans. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17, 7991.
Ventureyra V. A. G. (2005). A la recherche de la langue perdue: Etude psycholinguistique de l'attrition de la premiere langue chez des Coreens adoptes en France [In search of the lost language: A psycholinguistic study of first language attrition among Korean adoptees in France]. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales/Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, Paris.
Werker J. F., & Byers-Heinlein K. (2008). Bilingualism in infancy: First steps in perception and comprehension. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12, 144151.
Yeni-Komshian G. H., Flege J. E., & Liu S. (2000). Pronunciation proficiency in the first and second languages of Korean–English bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 3, 131149.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 167
Total number of PDF views: 1608 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1736 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.