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L2 listeners benefit from audiovisual information in the processing of Swedish vowels - A speech comprehension experiment with L1 and L2 listeners


  • Helene Springer

Summary, in English

This thesis investigates the effect of visible articulatory movements on speech comprehension in L1 and L2 listeners of Swedish. Previous research found faciliatory effects on speech perception when speech was presented audiovisually in various settings and under diverse listening conditions for both L1 and L2 listeners. However, it is still not investigated thoroughly, how L2 proficiency affects the way in which listeners benefit from visual information in the speech signal. Therefore, this study examined L1 and L2 listeners of Swedish in a phoneme recognition task including audio-only and audiovisual speech. Furthermore, in light of the Covid-19
pandemic, there has been an increasing interest in the effects of covering the mouth of a speaker on speech comprehension. Therefore, this study added a third condition in which the mouth of the speaker was blurred. The target phonemes were embedded in minimal pairs and inserted in decontextualized sentences in order to put the listeners in a challenging comprehension situation.
The results showed that audiovisual information facilitated the recognition of phonemes in clear speech, but only for L2 listeners. Although there was a floor effect with regards to the error rates, a temporal facilitation occurred in the form of decreased response times. L2 listeners benefit from visible speech in the recognition of Swedish vowels, especially when they perceive non-native sound contrasts. However, no correlation was found between the L2 proficiency and the processing of audiovisual speech. This study supports findings from previous research suggesting that audiovisual information is not an essential, but a facilitative aspect in speech
perception. Thus, it has implications for speech perception of vulnerable listener populations such as L2 learners or hearing-impaired listeners, in educational, but also in health care contexts.







Examensarbete för masterexamen (Två år)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • language processing
  • visual information
  • audiovisual speech perception
  • phoneme recognition
  • second-language sound contrasts


  • Victoria Johansson (Fil Dr)
  • Marianne Gullberg (Professor)