SPLIS Webinar: The social weighting of L2 speech input

When:  Jan 21, 2022 from 12:30 PM to 01:30 PM (ET)


Input--the linguistic information available to language learners--is a necessary condition for language acquisition, whether native (L1) or subsequent (Lx). Infants make differential use of L1 input depending on social condition: they learn the phonetics of linguistic input through live-person interaction but not when it is presented by video or audio only (Conboy, Meltzoff and Kuhl 2015). Others have demonstrated that adult L2 learners are sensitive to the phonetics of L2 input, even in the absence of social interaction, leading to the question of whether adult L2 learners also “gate” their input such that some types will be more influential than others. The language classroom, where learners are exposed to phonetic input from an “authority” (the teacher) and also from fellow learners, provides an opportunity to explore the role that social dynamics play in the effects of input on L2 phonetic development. We conducted an experiment wherein native English speakers heard auditory stimuli in an artificial language. During an exposure phase, in one condition the “teacher” produced tokens with 25 ms of VOT on initial segments and the students with 125 msec, and in another the VOT durations were reversed (in addition to control conditions where both students and teachers produced either long or short VOT). At test, participants judged as more target-like productions by a different speaker that matched the VOT durations of the teacher, but not the student, depending on their exposure condition, providing evidence for an influence of social factors in weighting input in L2 acquisition.


Rachel Hayes-Harb, Professor of Linguistics, studies multilingual speech processing. She co-directs the Speech Acquisition Lab, where she collaborates with undergraduate and graduate student researchers, and teaches courses on language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and research methods.

Shannon Barrios is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Utah and co-director of the Speech Acquisition Lab. Her research investigates the acquisition of novel phonological contrasts and phonological processes by adult second language learners.

Alayo Tripp is a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Their research explores the relationship between social knowledge and the perception of speech sounds throughout the lifespan.


Online Instructions:
Event Image


Catherine Showalter