ARELE: Annual Review of English Language Education in Japan
Online ISSN : 2432-0412
Print ISSN : 1344-8560
ISSN-L : 1344-8560
Errors in English Spoken Word Recognition: Effects of Word Frequency, Familiarity, and Phoneme Structure
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2016 Volume 27 Pages 125-136


The present study investigated the types of errors in English spoken word recognition by replicating an experiment reported by Field (2004), in which the top-down and bottom-up processes of second/foreign language (L2) listeners were investigated. In Field’s study, 47 L2 learners listened to a series of English words and were asked to write down the final words. The contexts for the target words were manipulated in a way designed to induce top-down listening, using a contextual word or words (e.g., wet, cloudy, dry, cold, got [hot]). The results of Field’s study showed that listeners were not affected by the top-down process, even when listening to semantically associated words. These results were dubious, however, because some limitations of the study may have affected the results. The present study therefore examined the effect of target word frequency, familiarity, and phoneme structure on Japanese-speaking English learners’ bottom-up and top-down listening processes by replicating Field’s study. The results showed that approximately 20%–50% of the listeners employed top-down processing when phonemes in the material were strictly controlled and the frequency and familiarity of substituted words were higher than those of the target words. These results indicated that Field’s material should be further modified and widely replicated.

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© 2016 The Japan Society of English Language Education
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