Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Languages, Literatures and Cultures



First Advisor

Nina Moreno


Many studies have been conducted on the influence of explicit phonetic instruction on speech perception and production of English as a second (L2) and foreign (FL) language (e.g. Bradlow, Pisoni, Akahane-Yamada & Tohkura, 1997; Derwing, Munro & Wiebe, 1998), some of which have focused on Spanish as a FL learned by American students whose first or native language (L1) is English (e.g. Elliot, 1997; Lord, 2005). Nonetheless, research has only recently been carried out on third language (L3) perception, with an even greater scarcity of studies that have focused on non-native speakers of English (e.g. Llama, Cardoso & Collins, 2008; Llisterri, & Poch, 1987). As Spanish is the most studied FL in the U.S. and its classrooms often contain non-native English students, it is important to take into account how these individuals’ perception may affect their acquisition of L3 phonology and strive to discover efficient and effective ways of instruction for these linguistic minorities. This study concentrates on Korean L1 speakers and the influence of explicit phonetic instruction on their perception of word-initial consonant stops in Spanish.

Consonant stops in both Spanish and English are defined by voicing, differing only somewhat in Voice Onset Time (VOT) (Abramson & Lisker, 1973). In Korean, however, consonant stops are not defined by voicing, but rather by two features: tenseness and aspiration (Kim, C. W., 1965; Kim, N., 1990). It has been shown that this Korean system greatly influences the perception of systems whose elements are distinguished by voicing (Kang, Kyoung-Ho & Susan Guion, 2006).

The participants in this study were 13 native speakers of Korean studying in the U.S. The experiment tested the effect of explicit instruction on participants’ perception by having participants listen to 36 voice recordings of Spanish syllables and choose the syllable (written in Latin characters) which best represented the one they heard. The experimental group completed a pre-test before receiving instruction in the form of a video, after which they took an immediate post-test, with a delayed post-test the following week.

Based on previous research, it was hypothesized that L1 Korean speakers would parse the voiced stops with more accuracy than the voiceless ones, but that explicit phonetic instruction would improve participants’ perception of the latter. The results of the present study support this conclusion.


© 2014, Paul J. Coats