L2 Vowel Learning

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L2 vowel learning refers to the process of learning to perceive and to produce the vowel sounds of a second language (L2), that is, a language that is learned after acquiring a first language or mother tongue (L1). This process is greatly affected by the existence of the already learned language and by the specific characteristics of the L1 and the L2. Many factors that affect L2 vowel learning are thus linguistic in nature, such as the number of L2 (and L1) vowels, the perceived similarity between L1 and L2 vowels, the use that languages make of different phonetic cues to distinguish vowels, and the effect that neighboring sounds and suprasegmental features like stress and rhythm have on vowel perception and production. L2 vowel learning is also affected by the individual characteristics of the learners, such as age, years of learning, setting of learning, and psychological variables like motivation and aptitude, among others. L2 vowel learning can take place in a naturalistic setting through exposure to the target language but can also result from more direct interventions like pronunciation teaching, phonetic training and the use of modern technologies. Another factor that can affect L2 vowel learning is the influence of the orthography (spelling). The way these different factors may influence the process of L2 vowel learning will be described and discussed in this entry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Applied Linguistics
EditorsHuensch Amanda, Murray Munro, John Levis, Charlie Nagle
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2023


  • Second language acquisition
  • vowels
  • L2 speech learning
  • speech perception and production
  • linguistic factors
  • learner factors


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