Why listening in background noise is harder in a non-native language than in a native language: A review

Odette Scharenborg, Marjolein van Os

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

There is ample evidence that recognising words in a non-native language is more difficult than in a native language, even for those with a high proficiency in the non-native language involved, and particularly in the presence of background noise. Why is this the case? To answer this question, this paper provides a systematic review of the literature on non-native spoken-word recognition in the presence of background noise, and posits an updated theory on the effect of background noise on native and non-native spoken-word recognition. The picture that arises is that although spoken-word recognition in the presence of background noise is harder in a non-native language than in one's native language, this difference is not due to a differential effect of background noise on native and non-native listening. Rather, it can be explained by differences in language exposure, which influences the uptake and use of phonetic and contextual information in the speech signal for spoken-word recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalSpeech Communication
Volume108
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Background noise
  • Cognitive processes
  • Non-native
  • Spoken-word recognition

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