Perception of English phonetic contrasts by Dutch children: How bilingual are early-English learners?

Claire Goriot*, James M. McQueen, Sharon Unsworth, Roeland van Hout, Mirjam Broersma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate whether early-English education benefits the perception of English phonetic contrasts that are known to be perceptually confusable for Dutch native speakers, comparing Dutch pupils who were enrolled in an early-English programme at school from the age of four with pupils in a mainstream programme with English instruction from the age of 11, and English-Dutch early bilingual children. Children were 4-5-year-olds (start of primary school), 8-9-year-olds, or 11-12-year-olds (end of primary school). Children were tested on four contrasts that varied in difficulty: /b/-/s/ (easy), /k/-/g/ (intermediate), /f/-/θ/ (difficult), /ε/-/æ/ (very difficult). Bilingual children outperformed the two other groups on all contrasts except /b/-/s/. Early-English pupils did not outperform mainstream pupils on any of the contrasts. This shows that early-English education as it is currently implemented is not beneficial for pupils’ perception of non-native contrasts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0229902
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2020

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