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Not sure what to make of this…

In this post, I will do what I often do. I will write about an article I read.This article, though, left me in a strange place – a kind of quandary.


Dr. Paola Escudero is an expert in the field of second language acquisition. She got her Ph. D in the Netherlands and is currently a professor at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behavior and Development at Western Sydney University. She is the co-author of Second Language Speech: Theory and Practice, published by Cambridge University.


I have been following her work for years. I have read much of what she has published and have learned a great deal from her research. The last article, however, left me unsettled. I really don’t know how to react. It is titled: Cross-Linguistic Influence in Second Language Speech: Implications for Learning and Teaching. The article was co-written by Jaydene Elvin and is taken from: Second Language Learning and Teaching, edited by M. J. Gutierrez-Mangado et al.


The authors start like this: “Cross-linguistic influence (CLI) is a commonly observed phenomenon that influences an individual’s ability to perceive, comprehend and speak in a second language (L2). “


Can’t argue, right? Later, they say: “According to the Second Language Linguistic Perception model (L2LP), learners will initially perceive and produce the sounds of the L2 and recognize L2 words in the same way they do so in their own native language.”


I have been saying the same thing in this blog, and other places, for a long time.


They then refer to the perception/production link: “Our ability to perceive and recognize speech also has an effect on how we produce sounds in an L2.”


There are some nuances and exceptions, but the link between being able to hear a sound and pronouncing it is strong. The authors say it is important to train learners to hear the sounds, “because our ability to produce speech sounds depends on our ability to perceive them, yet very few pronunciation (and even listening) classes focus on L2 perception because the focus has commonly been on the training of the appropriate use of the speech articulators to produce the L2.” Very interesting.


To train students the authors point out that “a number of studies have shown that high variability phonetic training (HVPT) leads to increased ability to perceive and produce L2 sounds (see Barriuso & Hays-Harb, 2018 for an excellent review).”


You can read more on Barriuso and Hays-Harb’s review in my post titled : The Importance of HVPT.


After discussing the importance of training learners to hear the sounds, the authors say:“In fact, Escudero et al., are currently developing a language exposure app that trains parents and their infants to improve their speech processing abilities in order to learn foreign language words.”


This floored me. I have been producing HVPT informed videos aimed at parents and young learners for 15 years. Ignored, scoffed at, and incessantly doubted, I have kept at it. Now, an important person in the field is giving it a go. Should I be happy? Will my years of work finally be recognized? Or will what I have done be buried and the hope I’ve kept alive all these years be  extinguished? I honestly do not know.


 It will be interesting to see how well her project does. I can only hope you will remember…


…this is what b4 has been doing for well over a decade.

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