This paper is a preliminary analysis of whether the Perceptual Assimilation Model (Best, 1995) can predict how well L2 learners discriminate L2 contrasts. It examines the discrimination of five contrasts in Spanish by three participant groups: native speakers of Spanish, learners of Spanish, and native speakers of American English who have not studied Spanish. Both phonemic and allophonic contrasts are included. Findings suggest that L2 contrasts are more difficult to discriminate when both L2 sounds are assimilated to the same sound(s) in the L1. However, learners can improve their discrimination of these contrasts as they reach higher levels of proficiency.
Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum: Exploring SLA Perspectives, Positions, and Practices
edited by Matthew T. Prior, Yukiko Watanabe, and Sang-Ki Lee
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