On Taiwanese pupils’ ability to differentiate between English /l/ and /r/: A study of L1/L2 cross-language effects
Students in South East Asia often struggle with English /l/ and /r/. This study therefore set out to examine how Taiwanese pupils’ perception of these sounds is influenced by cross language effects. Most Taiwanese students have Mandarin as L1 and Taiwanese as L2 or vice versa, and English as L3. A same-different discrimination experiment was conducted to measure pupils’ ability to discriminate between phonetically close English /r/ and /l/ and Mandarin /ʐ/ and /l/. The results show that L1-Mandarin pupils discriminate both the English consonant contrast and the Mandarin consonant contrast better than L1-Taiwanese pupils. Discrimination difficulty may be higher if two members of a contrast are perceived as belonging to a single L1 category.