Perception of English Tense and Lax Vowels according to Voicing Contrast in Postvocalic Consonants by Korean Young EFL Learners


Lim, Youngshin

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This study attempts to investigate whether Korean young EFL learners could differently perceive the difference between English tense and lax vowels (/i/-/ɪ/) with the voicing contrast in the postvocalic consonants. Two perception tests (4I-oddity test and Identification test) are conducted with the following research questions. 1) Do Korean young EFL learners show any difference in correctly discriminating tense and lax vowels according to the voicing contrast in postvocalic consonants at the auditory level? 2) Do they differently identify English tense and lax vowels according to voicing contrasts at the phonological level? 3) Do they differently identify English tense and lax vowels according to different manners of articulation (stops vs. fricatives)? For each experimental test, 11 Korean speakers and 5 native speakers (as a control group) participate in the study. The main findings from the tests are as follows. First, Korean learners perform as well in the 4I-oddity discrimination test as native speakers do, while more poorly performing in the identification test. Second, Korean learners did not use vowel length as an acoustic cue to differentiate between English tense and lax vowels in both perception tests regardless of voicing contrasts or manner of articulation in postvocalic consonants. According to these findings, the study concludes that the absent feature of vowel length in the L1 does not facilitate Korean speakers’ accurate perception of English tense and lax vowels at the phonological level.


1. Introduction
2. Method
2.1 Participants
2.2 Materials
2.3 Procedure
2.4 Data analysis
3. Result
3.1 4I-oddity discrimination test
3.2 Identification test
4. Discussion & Conclusion


  • Lim, Youngshin Korea Polytechnic College / Lecturer


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