Differential perception of vowels and stop consonants in Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers

Simona Montanari*, Jeremy Steffman, Robert Mayr, Patricia Flores, Carissa Feeney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Despite extensive work on perceptual development in bilingual infants, we know little about speech perception in bilingual preschoolers. This study investigates English vowel and stop voicing perception in 20 Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers and 20 English monolingual peers. Perception was assessed through a forced-choice minimal-pair identification task in which children heard synthesized audio stimuli that varied systematically along an /i-ɪ/ vowel continuum and a/b-p/ Voice Onset Time (VOT) continuum and were asked to match them with one of two pictures for each contrast. The results of Bayesian mixed-effects logistic regression analyses indicated no credible difference in vowel perception between monolinguals and bilinguals. In contrast, the bilinguals’ category boundary for English /b-p/ was impacted by their experience with Spanish, with more short-lag VOT tokens being perceived as voiceless in line with Spanish VOT. We interpret the observed asymmetry as stemming from differences in L1-L2 mappings across the contrasts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
EditorsRadek Skarnitzl , Jan Volín
Place of PublicationPrague
PublisherGuarant International
ISBN (Electronic)9788090811423
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2023
Event20th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) - Prague Congress Centre, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 7 Aug 202311 Aug 2023


Conference20th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS)
Abbreviated titleICPhS 2023
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • speech perception
  • Spanish-English bilinguals
  • preschoolers
  • voice onset time
  • vowels


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