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General L2 Proficiency and Spoken Word Recognition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
Responsible organisation
2008 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


This essay concerns the ability of advanced L2 users of English to recognise spoken words in a noisy environment. Its main objective is to see whether there exists any correlation between the proficiency level of an advanced user of L2 English and his/her ability to recognise spoken words. Twenty students in the English Department at Stockholm University were given several proficiency tests as well as a test of spoken word recognition. The spoken words were embedded in a “cocktail party” background noise. The central research question is whether proficiency levels (as reflected in the tests) are related to levels of ability to recognise words in a noisy input situation.

A secondary goal of this essay is to identify the phonemes that seemed most difficult for the informants to recognise in a noisy environment.

The results indicate that general L2 proficiency, as measured by three types of tests (vocabulary knowledge, written word recognition, reading comprehension) has no impact on a subjects’ ability to recognise spoken words in a noisy environment. The results also indicate that some phonemes were more difficult to recognise than others. Furthermore, the analysis of mishearings indicate that in doublets (words where both the noun forms and the verb forms were given), the words with first syllable stress (nouns) were correctly recognised considerably more often than words with second syllable stress (verbs). For words with only a single form the stress pattern did not seem to influence recognition. Several lines of future research are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. , 31 p.
Keyword [en]
Cocktail-party effect, proficiency level, word recognition, noisy listening environment, background noise.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8027OAI: diva2:199440
Available from: 2008-06-17 Created: 2008-06-17Bibliographically approved

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