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Effects of early home language environment on perception and production of speech*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2016

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, East China Normal University School of Psychology, UNSWAustralia
School of Psychology, UNSWAustralia
Address for correspondence: Prof Marcus Taft, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, UNSW Sydney NSW 2052,


The effects of exposure to non-English heritage languages versus exposure to foreign-accented English during early childhood on language performances later in life were investigated. Three groups of young adult participants who differed in their early home language environment were examined on a series of linguistic tasks. Results showed that people who were mostly exposed to accented English in the early home environment are more native-like in various aspects of English language performance than those who were mostly exposed to their non-English heritage language, including vocabulary, pronunciation, and processing of certain types of speech stimuli. Early and extended exposure to accented speech, however, does not appear to enhance the ability to perceive foreign accents in general, and may in fact produce a disadvantage when listening to unfamiliar accents. These findings provide some initial insight into the consequences of migrant parents choosing to speak one language over the other with their children.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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The authors would like to thank Dr Lidija Krebs-Lazendic for help with technical aspects of this study.


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