M.A. Wagner (Monica) MSc

Teacher - Psycholinguïstics

M.A. Wagner (Monica) MSc
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Anyone who has ever tried to learn a new language knows how difficult it is to reach native-like proficiency, with pronunciation being one of the most difficult aspects to learn. The question of why acquiring native-like pronunciation in a new language proves so difficult has puzzled researchers for decades. In addition to encumbering comprehension, non-native pronunciation has been shown to induce listener biases about the speaker. In today’s globalized world, where increasingly more people are communicating in languages that are not their mother tongue, discovering the constraints on the acquisition of a non-native language is an important task for researchers.

The factor that has been found to best predict degree of accentedness is age of acquisition. However, even late second language (L2) learners present great variability. This project aims to tackle the topic of individual differences in the acquisition of non-native phonology, that is, why some people struggle so much to get rid of their foreign accent in a second language, while others seem to be able to acquire a nativelike accent almost effortlessly. To this end, we will be looking into the relationship between second language pronunciation and (verbal) imitative ability in general, speech perception, and other cognitive and personality factors in an approach which combines behavioral and neuroimaging techniques and advanced statistical methods.

MM 2.389

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